Expert analysis from Karen Cradock, Business Owner and Specialist Cardiac Physiotherapist at Heart2Heart Cardiac Physiotherapy.
And there it was. The ground opened up from beneath our feet and we plummeted into the world of COVID-19. We faced the treacherous journey of our home and work life merging, with the lines between these two worlds becoming at times blurred. We suffered the loss of family members, friends and colleagues to a deadly virus without the comfort of touch amidst our grief. We sympathised with our healthcare friends and frontline workers who faced extreme pressure, responsibility and risk. We had to figure out how to keep the show on the road despite uncertain timeframes, all while trying to stay positive for our families and our team. This was a significant ask. This was the endurance challenge of our life. This was stressful.
Covid-19 and Stress Management
Stress, in a short form, can be good for us. However, over a sustained period, the continuous release of cortisol and adrenaline can have detrimental effects on our health. Stress presents itself in many ways: insomnia, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, heartburn, increased breathing rate, stomach ache, fertility problems, erectile dysfunction, low sex drive and tense muscles. Stress can also lead you to adverse behaviours like smoking, drinking, eating too much processed food, using stimulants and stopping your exercise regime. Each element of this can put you at risk of a heart attack. I would ask you to today make a decision to minimise that risk!
We have put together our top tips to take care of your heart and reduce your stress in these challenging and uncertain times.
“These weekly online exercise sessions have kept me active and connected during the last few Covid weeks and I feel they have been very beneficial to my Heart Health”
Michael Quinn, Managing Director, Mortgage Brain Ireland, and IoD Ireland Member
Top tips to stay healthy during COVID-19 and beyond
- Begin incorporating short bouts of exercise each day into your routine. A minimum of 10 minute sessions is essential for your health and you can accumulate up to 150 minutes per week; 30 minutes per day five days per week is recommended. A more structured programme with training intensities designed for your fitness level will be of more benefit to you. Remember: teamwork improves staff communication – so why not consider setting up short exercise sessions for your teams?
- Include mindful walking in your regime. This consists of a good amount of movement but not too intense. This will reduce your adrenaline levels and give your body a platform for training. The birds took over the airwaves over the last three months – why not take time out to continue to enjoy their sounds?
- Deep breathing exercises are essential. This simple exercise lowers blood pressure and heart rate, improves lymphatic drainage and relieves muscle tension. This exercise is severely underestimated for both its mental and physical benefits. Remember not to take too many very deep breaths in succession as you will feel dizzy from too much oxygen.
- Reduce your alcohol intake. Remember that 17 standard drinks for men and 11 standard drinks for women per week is the recommended amount. It is also important to remember that yYou need to have two days clear of alcohol for liver replenishment but three is preferred. (Remember that a standard drink is a half pint of larger, 100mls of wine or 35.5 mls of spirits). Instead of organising a night out in the pub (when we can) with staff, why not explore some socially distant activities?
- Recognise the loss that we have all felt over the last three months with your colleagues and family. The rollercoaster of emotion has affected everyone. If someone has lost someone or, indeed, you have lost one of your family or colleagues, it is important to recognise it. Remember to involve your team members in whatever tribute you decide – this is as much about them.
- If you are trying to lose weight, you will need to exercise for one hour every single day.
- Turn all your appliances off one hour before bed and make sure your room is nice and cool. Treat your body to sleep to allow it to replenish without too much stimulation from your phone.
- Some people will have surprised you, and some will have unfortunately disappointed you over the last while – reconnect with those people who make you feel good about yourself.
- Stop smoking – this is a big ask but will reap the greatest reward in relation to your heart health.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself!
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