With lockdown reaching the month-long mark for countries across the globe, it is easy to sense the deflation mounting. Organisations around the world are cancelling events, the EU external border remains closed. It would be easy to give in to the sense of hopelessness.
The Monaco-based wellness festival In Your Element is the exception. By moving the event online, organiser Krista Madden made clear that the self-isolating residents of Monaco still have an opportunity to partake in a bit of culture during lockdown. Starting last week, some of the leading experts in the fields of nutrition, fitness and spiritual practice held online classes and went on Instagram Live to share their knowledge. We have prepared a short guide on how to stay motivated during lockdown and to focus on your mental wellbeing.
In part one, Victoria Adams, nutritionist, shared with us her knowledge of self-control to do away with a negative mindset during lockdown. Meditation practitioner, Sunita Passi, revealed the basics of breathing techniques. In part two, we will talk to Chiara Lewis, personal trainer, and Michaella Bolder, beauty expert.
Victoria Adams, Nutritionist
What is the best advice you can give people in quarantine?
This is a time where many of us are lacking structure. We are going to bed and waking up later, possibly even unable to fall asleep at all if experiencing stress. But never before have we had such an opportunity to create structure: you are at home with this constant sure to be part of your life for at least the next few weeks. Use this as an opportunity to shape your life. Focusing on the limitations of quarantine will, in turn, limit you.
Be clear about your goals – complete work tasks, care for the family, feel well physically and mentally, write that book you’ve been thinking about. When you set yourself goals, be sure to follow three clear steps that will get you closer to reaching them.
You will likely be caring for others. Put yourself on that list too and be sure to do whatever it is you need to feel looked after. Self-care doesn’t have to be a bi-weekly facial. It is wearing your favourite hoody, brushing your hair, presenting your food well. If you create these systems during quarantine, you will be able to better cope with the stress of the current situation, and this will serve you moving forward for the rest of your life.
This is a time where we have a choice over how we present ourselves in the world, how we show up; even if we don’t get farther than our living rooms. What story do you want to tell when this is over? Go as far as you can imagine even if it’s only as far as your sofa.
Nowadays, there is a lot of different information online surrounding dieting and nutrition. How can we find the right approach to our bodies?
I genuinely believe that we know what foods work for us, and what hinders us. If we do not know, we google it! There is something else that prevents us from choosing the right foods and activities for our bodies: excuses, work commitments, family commitments, etc. Firstly, keep it simple. There is no point in being super healthy if it makes you super unhappy. If there is an underlying factor causing you to make poor food choices or binge eat, can this issue be addressed with something other than indulgent food? Emotional eating makes sense – it makes you feel better. But we cannot eat 24/7 to fix a problem!
Choose natural foods and fill your plate with as many green vegetables as possible before adding anything else. Drink plenty of water and add lemon for extra hydration. Honour meal times, rather than grazing throughout your day. If you are snacking, then you are probably not eating enough at mealtimes.
What should people include in their diet during lockdown?
From a nutritional perspective, especially if you are moving less and indoors, more nutrient-rich vegetables and fruit are crucial. The vitamins and minerals in fresh fruit and veg will help your brain cells function and keep your skin bright, as well as reducing your chances of increasing body fat percentage and higher visceral fat. If you do not have access to fresh produce, frozen will more than do.
Be sure to get enough Omega 3s into your diet: oily fish, pumpkin seeds, chia, flax or hemp. You might choose to take supplements, such as Vitamin C, D, K, B12, but do your best to feed your body these nutrients using food first.
Probiotics will support a healthy gut. You can buy them or make items at home such as Kefir, Kimchi or Sauerkraut very easily and affordably. Prebiotics such as banana, cabbage, artichoke, and garlic are essential to act as fertilisers to help healthy bacteria grow.
When it comes to “naughty” food, it doesn’t help to simply say “cut out chocolate” because then all we do is go crazy thinking about chocolate! Instead, focus on crowding in as much of the good stuff that you can. This way, you aren’t limiting yourself with what you cannot eat, but by crowding in more healthy food, there is naturally less space for what we try to cut out. Remember that there is a difference between processed foods and the superfood that raw cacao is in its natural raw form.
This is balance – because there’s no point in being super healthy if it makes you super unhappy. Stress is one of the most poisonous things we can feed the body!
Sunita Passi, meditation practitioner
Why is it important to meditate during the quarantine?
It is one of the best ways to remove negativity in the body, especially while hearing all the challenging information right now. It can also raise the quality of our mind through focus.
What does it give to you?
The benefits are huge, but in a nutshell, you feel calmer, more focused and more ready to tackle these testing times.
How to start a meditation practise?
Very simply, commit yourself to something first. Think on a feeling, an idea or a goal you want to focus on or achieve. Sit in a comfortable chair. And follow these steps for the Complete Breath technique:
Place one hand on the belly and the other on the chest. Inhale deeply, allowing the shoulders to relax down the back and the stomach to push out against the hand. This is the diaphragm pulling down on the lungs as they fill with air. The chest expands passively as the breath fills it. The hand on the chest will rise slightly as the chest expands; however, the shoulders stay put. On the exhale, mindfully contract the belly and slowly empty all the air from the lungs.
What rules do we need to know?
Discipline is key. To get the best results, this should be practised every day for a minimum of 10 minutes. It is the regular practice that will give you long-term benefits.