New Delhi: The recent stay-at-home mandate has changed our lives in more ways than one could never imagine. It has made us think very differently about our health, wealth, fitness, nutrition, exercise, and relationships.
The daily hustle of our lives does not leave us with too much time to cherish these aspects, but hopefully the past few days have given us mental space to mull over them. With some time at hand, we have an opportunity to focus on our physical, mental and emotional well-being.
The mind and body have an intricate link to each other and hence it is imperative to keep both healthy. Planning and building our overall well-being in this phase is going to be an investment for our future that will not just pay dividends in terms of our health but also help us realize our capabilities.
So, with that said, which is the best place for us to begin? The ideal starting point is our body because physical health is extremely important. If you have ever chalked out fitness routines or specific dietary plans in the past but never got to execute it, then now is the time to revisit them.
For starters, make sure you introduce a balanced and nutritious diet in your daily meal plans. A balanced breakfast must be non-negotiable. If you are wondering what is a 'balanced breakfast', it must be a mix of carbohydrates, fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. These can be found in many foods and one can pick different breakfast foods namely grains, fruits/ vegetables and dairy. A bowl of ready-to-eat breakfast cereal made with whole grain; a glass of milk or a bowl of yoghurt and sliced fruits or dry fruits/nuts work just as well. As long as you are getting a wholesome balanced breakfast, you are energized to start a long day. Another example would be a whole grain vegetable sandwich with a glass of milk. Ensure your other meals are balanced as well to provide you with the right mix of nutrients throughout the day.
Besides diet, physical activity and exercise are also important. Exercise can help improve your physical health and could even add years to your life. That is not the only reason why people exercise. Research has shown that regular exercise helps relieve stress, improves mood, reduces dissatisfaction with life and improves the quality of life. Exercise reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body's natural painkillers and helps bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being.
Insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCD) and death, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Regular and adequate levels of physical activity improve muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness, improves bone health, reduces the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, various types of cancer (including breast cancer and colon cancer), and depression and is fundamental to energy balance and weight control. So, try some indoor activities like yoga, aerobic exercises and don't forget to dance to your favourite music.
Focus on Emotional Well-being
They say, "A family which eats together, stays together" and I believe it is for a reason. In Indian culture, meal times bring the entire family together. Ensure that you share at least one meal a day with your loved ones and use that time to share what happened throughout the day and generally bond with them. Eating meals together is one aspect of family life that demonstrates benefits to young people. Eating meals as a family has benefits for young people beyond their general sense of connection to family members. Research has shown that family meals offer routine and consistency and provide an opportunity to socialize children and teach them about communication skills, manners, nutrition, and good eating habits.
With all these tweaks in place to set you up for a more fulfilling future, do not forget to chart out a plan that will help you stay accountable to your goals and help you reignite and re-energize yourself whenever you slack off. Ensure you continue with all the good habits, practices and routines that you inculcate during this phase to 'create a bigger, better, future'.
A holistic approach towards your lifestyle is the mantra for a fitter and healthier version of you!
(The author, Nadiya Merchant, is Lead - Nutrition and Scientific Affairs, Kellogg South Asia)