Are you feeling the weight of the pandemic?
As extensively reported in the news, the pandemic has had its share of physical and psychological consequences. A recent study from Dalhousie University reveals that loneliness, telecommuting, sedentary lifestyle, stress, anxiety and unbalanced routine are among the contributing factors to weight gain in 42.3% of Canadians1.
Is this the case for you? Have you experienced other effects of the pandemic? Here are some thoughts to help you better understand, and accept, the current situation and then follow the most appropriate actions.
Weight of the pandemic : Four thoughts to help
1- Take some time to assess your situation
Take a moment to evaluate how the pandemic has modified your daily life, particularly your lifestyle: the changes in your work schedule, your family routine, your eating habits, your training habits, your relationship, as well as financial, mental and emotional changes. By clearly defining the current state of your daily life, it will be easier to identify the areas that need a little TLC.
2- Get back to exercising to improve your physical and mental health
Have you given up on exercise in the past several months? If so, try a gradual return to exercise to restore your balance. Rediscover the benefits of outdoor walks, more structured cardio and strength training or yoga. The support and guidance of a personal trainer upon your return to the gym could certainly help.
Through physiological and biochemical mechanisms, exercise plays a role in preventing and reducing anxiety, stress and symptoms of depression2. It also helps improve sleep quality3 and is an effective way to “take a mental break” from your daily routine. Only 10 to 15 minutes are enough to generate changes in our mood for several hours. So mark your calendars, set a specific time to get energized, and do it first and foremost for your overall health.
3- Rediscover the pleasure of eating without guilt
When shedding extra kiIos is the objective, is a calorie reduced diet the solution? Never! On the contrary, in nutrition, as in other aspects of our lives, drastic solutions are rarely synonymous with lasting success. If you feel that your eating schedule has been derailed by working remotely, seeking comfort in food or relieving boredom or anxiety with food, you can rest assured that these impulses are perfectly normal. However, if you wish to improve your habits, consulting a nutritionist could be key. It can, among other things, help you discover a better relationship with food and your body.
4- Breathe, laugh and stay Zen!
I know, I know, it’s easier said than done. But simple exercises to stay Zen can make an immediate difference in our state of mind. In addition to physical exercise, here are three techniques* to help relieve stress:
- Breathe deeply. By inflating the belly like a balloon with each breath, you give your diaphragm a chance to expand which decreases the stress response.
- Laugh often. When you laugh, the brain quickly understands that there are no stressors in sight. The release of stress hormones automatically stops.
- Take positive action. Engaging in prosocial behavior by spreading good cheer has a positive effect on stress levels. Go ahead, give compliments, say hello, be grateful on a daily basis.
If you feel that your stress and anxiety level is higher than usual and you would like to have some practical tools to better address the issue, I encourage you to listen to the excellent webinar entitled « Mieux affronter le stress » with Sonia Lupien4 and produced by La Presse. A video that provides reassurance and feels good!
*These techniques are promoted by Sonia Lupien, author, director of the “Centre d’études sur le stress humain de l’institut en santé mentale de Montréal” and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Université de Montréal.
Focus on our professionals to get through this pandemic
In conclusion, focusing on achieving a new mental and physical balance and better overall health will allow you to remain on the right track in the coming months. The number on the scale should not be your primary motivation; it is rather your wellbeing, through the return to a healthier lifestyle, that should influence your actions. Don’t hesitate to ask our professionals for help!
-  Dalhousie University – COVID Well Being / https://cdn.dal.ca/content/dam/dalhousie/pdf/sites/agri-food/COVID%20Well%20Being%20(April%2018%202021)%20EN.pdf
-  Exercise and mental health – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29150166/
-  Exercise effect on sleep physiology – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22485106/
-  Video « Mieux affronter le stress » par La Presse / https://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/2021-01-20/revoyez-notre-rencontre-numerique/mieux-affronter-le-stress-avec-les-conseils-de-sonia-lupien.php#