Staying healthy while staying home
While our lifestyles are different to usual, now’s the time to take extra care with your health. We’ve put together these ideas to help
While staying home due to coronavirus (COVID-19) changes the way you live your daily life, it’s more important than ever to keep going with healthy eating and physical activity to keep your blood pressure under control and your body in good health.
It’s also a good time to pay attention to other areas of your health, including keeping your mind active, staying in touch with friends by phone or video, finding ways to relax and getting a good night’s sleep.
We can’t say this enough: exercise does wonders for your body and your mood.
- Get outside if you can and enjoy a daily walk, jog or bike ride. The fresh air has extra benefits like a daily dose of vitamin D from sunlight, it could help with sleep too.
- Keep moving throughout the day, it’s not good to sit for long periods. Get up and walk around the house or march on the spot, you could set a timer to remind you.
- Do some simple exercises such as squats, arm raises to the side while holding food tins (palms down), bicep curls with tins (palms up), standing on the balls of your feet and lowering down again, or press-ups against a wall.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) have useful information about being active at home – including a set of exercises.
- There’s lots or online videos for free. We like Joe Wicks’ Home Workouts for Seniors.
- Use NHS Couch to 5K to get you up and running 5K in just 9 weeks.
- See our healthy living information.
- Make a meal plan for the week to plan your shopping, and get creative with what’s in your pantry.
- Prioritise fruit, veg, pulses (such as beans and lentils) and grains when you’re shopping and cooking, and look for those without added salt. They can be frozen, tinned or dried – they don’t all have to be fresh.
- Watch the hidden salt content of food. Salt puts up your blood pressure but it’s not obvious how much salt a product contains - check the labels and eat less than 6g a day. Download the FoodSwitch app to help.
- Avoid ready-made, processed and takeaway foods as much as possible, including sauces, soups, processed meat and baked goods. Instant soups, noodles and pasta, tend to be very salty.
- Learn about a healthy diet for blood pressure.
- Make a plan for the week, and get creative with what’s in your pantry - the WHO have some excellent tips for healthy eating in isolation.
- Share your recipes on our facebook and twitter. We’d love to see them.
Keep taking your blood pressure medicines
- Keep taking your blood pressure medicines as prescribed. If you have any doubts, contact your GP by phone before making any changes – stopping them will mean your blood pressure rises again, and adjusting them without professional help can lead to side effects.
- There is no need to check your blood pressure more often than usual unless your health professional has advised you to do so. Find out more about home monitoring.
Monitor your blood pressure at home as normal
- There is no need to check your blood pressure more often than usual unless your health professional has advised you to do so. See how home monitoring can help.
- Drink enough water. Around 2 litres a day is a good target.
- Choose water or no added sugar squash over sugary drinks.
- Drink less than the recommended 14 units per week. It can affect your health, your sleep, your mood and even your immune system. A lot of alcohol can raise your blood pressure too.
- Read our information about alcohol and how to drink less.
- Learn more from the NHS.
Find ways to relax and get a good night’s sleep
- Make space in your day for some relaxation – try deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness exercises, a warm bath or listening to relaxing music.
- Try these as a wind down before bed.
- We like an app called Headspace which is good for relaxing and getting ready for sleep.
- Try an adult colouring in book or dot to dot for a colourful and relaxing wind down.
- Introduce a screen curfew and remove all screens from your bedroom at night.
- If you wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep, get up and do something else until you feel tired again, like a jigsaw puzzle.
- Limit the amount of news coverage you consume during this stressful time. Just check in once or twice a day.
- The NHS have lots of tips for sleep
Keep in touch
- Keeping in touch can make you feel better, and talking things through can help if you’re feeling down or anxious.
- There are several apps and services for keeping in touch with friends and family with video chat. Zoom, Houseparty, Skype, Whatsapp video and Google hangouts are all popular and free. Always make sure you review the security settings.
- Have fun with it. Try a dining room disco and dance around your living room while your friends do the same.
- Age UK have a free telephone service called Call in Time where over 60s can be matched up with someone else looking to make a friend and arrange a weekly call. Visit ageuk.org or call 0800 678 1602.
- The Silver Line has a free helpline for people aged 55 and over, providing information, friendship and advice. Call 0800 470 80 90, open 24/7, or visit www.thesilverline.org.uk
- There are also charities who can offer support including Mind and Samaritans if you need extra support.
- If you’re anxious about your blood pressure, please do talk to us, we’re here to help: 020 7882 6218 or email@example.com
Lots of music, theatre and dance performance are being streamed online, here’s a few ideas:
- The National Theatre have launched National Theatre At Home where you can stream performances for free for a week.
- The Royal Opera House have launched an their #ourhousetoyourhouse series, which includes opera and ballet.
- Timeout are listing the best theatre to watch from New York to London to Australia and beyond.
- Theatre productions around the country are being listed by thestage.co.uk on their The Show Must Go Online page.
- Plus you can do tours of museums online. Here’s some examples from timeout.
Find trustworthy sources of information
With so much news available, make sure you’re following only trustworthy, verified sources.
- Take a look at these coronavirus myth busters from the WHO.
- The NHS, PHE provide trustworthy information, and the BBC
- Keep an eye on our COVID-19 news page about blood pressure and coronavirus.
- Call our helpline for questions relating to your blood pressure on 020 7882 6218 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Limit how often you check the news
- If you find constant updates stressful, only check the news and social media once or twice a day, you could even set specific times to check it.
Find ways to feel good
- Get dressed up – staying in pyjamas just a little bit longer can be a slippery slope, wearing something you like can make you feel better.
- Plant some seeds – if you have a garden, balcony or window box, see what you can grow.
- Get creative – write a poem, draw a picture. You don’t need to spend money or go out for supplies, you can paint with coffee granuals and a cocktail stick! Think of some ideas you fancy trying and get started – it doesn’t need to be ‘good’ and you don’t have to show anyone, it’s whether you enjoy it that counts.
Keep your mind active
- Use some of your free time for pursuits which flex your intellectual muscles, like crosswords or sudoku.
- Find free resources for many of the ideas listed on this page, colected by Money Saving Expert including music lessons. This also includes educational resources for children.
- Brush up on your maths skills with the National Numeracy Challenge.
- Audible are making children's books and learning resources free to listen to. Great if you have children or grandkids, and you might also like the classics or learning resources.
Have you found this helpful? Our helpline is open to support people at this time and depends on donations to keep running. Any donation you can give will make a big difference.