Our school Physio, Mel Gairdner, shares her motivational tips and advice to help keep both body and mind agile over the coming weeks.

Well-being Wednesday last week has got me thinking. 

Deep in the well of lockdown we will have adjusted to our current new normal; new routines, a slower pace with coping strategies in place, a daily walk, regular quiz nights or family Zooms. But at this stage the toll of make shift work stations, juggling work with home schooling and a feeling of ground hog day maybe making its mark.  

How to keep our sense of well-being intact? Well clearly joining in with the School’s Wednesday activities is a great way. But how do we keep the continuum ourselves?

We know of the importance of movement – we are designed to move, we need to move to function well and it is vital that this happens in some form every day, even if you don’t feel like it at the time, you will be thankful afterwards and your sense of well-being increased.  In our last Heads-Up, I explored the benefits of developing a realistic fitness routine (and not regime!).  Here I want to share with you the next vital component – nourishment.

Let’s explore nourish!

It is key that we nourish ourselves to feel well. Obviously it would be lovely to be booked into a spa in the Maldives and have it done for us but without that option it is up to us to nourish ourselves and there are two aspects to this – nourish our minds and body. Much has been written about this and the discussion could span across many pages so to keep it brief I have put together some key pointers:

MIND NOURISHMENT or the ‘be kind to ourselves’ bit. Sounds obvious but it isn’t always something we are great at.

To nourish our mind we need to know how, we need to know ourselves;

Step 1  Take time to listen to your gut feelings, give yourself time to react, be heard.

Step 2  Be the coach you would want to have in your life, be firm, be honest, be kind, be encouraging - quit the negative commentary and the self-doubt. This in turn leads to;

Step 3  Forgiveness. Really important to forgive ourselves. None of us are perfect, we all make mistakes, that is ok and we learn from them. Forgive, learn and move on.

Step 4  Remember you are in charge of you. That means you get to choose what you let into your life, what you experience and what you let go.

Step 5  Be good to yourself, address your needs, find time for that within your day, it is important, you are important.

BODY NOURISHMENT – or the ‘what you put in you get out’ bit.

The obvious start is with food and drink. There are many individuals more experienced in this field than me but to add my tuppence worth; eat food that makes you feel good, listen to your body; don’t worry if you have an off day – live with it and move back into the good zone; drink PLENTY of water to keep your system well flushed!

Another big part is looking after our musculoskeletal systems and keeping fit. We explored keeping fit last time, looking after our posture and biomechanics is important too; it’s hard to feel happy and healthy if you are sore and achy. Home-made workstations aren’t great for this as they are often not set up for full days and we can find ourselves suffering from aches and pains that we aren’t used to. Here are some tips to help make a workstation more comfortable. Remember giving yourself breaks and moving regularly is key.

Tips for a comfortable workstation

  • Move the chair close to the workstation.
  • Sit upright, supported in the natural curve of your lower back by the chair’s back support or a cushion.
  • Head held upright and over your shoulders.
  • Elbows bent as near to 90 degrees as you can, forearms horizontal, shoulders relaxed not raised.
  • Feet should be supported and flat on the floor. If this isn’t possible then feet should be fully supported by a footrest.
  • Sit directly in front of the computer screen and keyboard to avoid neck twisting.
  • Position screens at eye level (laptops should be raised and use a separate keyboard if possible) and look into the far distance every few minutes to vary focal length and avoid eye strain.
  • Check the direction of the light source to avoid glare or reflections on your screen.
  • Never use keyboard or mouse wrist rests for permanently resting your wrists on while you are working.
  • Regularly take a break and move around.

And so there we are, back to the beginning - move - even when you don’t feel like it or don’t feel you have time, it will help you feel better.

Stay safe and keep well

Mel Gairdner, CSP HCPC Reg PGCert Clin Ed Level 3 PT, Warminster School Physiotherapist