The biggest health mistakes to avoid while self-isolating

Sticking to a healthy routine can be tricky when you’re home all day and night. Here’s how to avoid falling into bad habits during the coronavirus lockdown.

Whether it’s working continuously, forgetting to eat, or snacking a little too much, your day at home can quickly unravel if you don’t have a good game plan.

These are the most critical things to avoid for your health’s sake, while you’re socially distancing during the coronavirus outbreak.

Mistake 1: Failing to have a routine

While it can be tempting to forfeit a routine when you’re working from home, it’s important to maintain some structure to your day.

“Humans are rhythmic beings. Having a daily routine will help you adjust to life while working from home and give you a sense of comfort and control as well as improve your productivity,” says clinical psychologist Gemma Cribb, founder of Equilibrium Psychology.

The fix:

Thankfully you can skip the dreaded commute, but be sure to map out your day to include things like a nourishing breakfast, a regular start and finish time, exercise and meals.

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Mistake 2: Making up meals on the fly

Your kitchen is just a few steps away, so it’s easy to grab whatever is handy – healthy or not – when hunger pangs strike.

This is why it’s crucial to map out your meals.

“A healthy diet is important for sustaining your energy levels throughout the work day and supporting your immune and cognitive function,” says dietitian Rachel Hawkins.

The fix:

Set aside some time on the weekend to prep your lunches and organise snacks so you don’t have to give it a second thought throughout the week.

Mistake 3: Not having a clear separation between work and rest

Having your entire home as your office can make it hard to wind down once the work day has ended.

The fix:

If possible, try to set up a designated spot for working somewhere in your house.

“Separating your work space from your home space creates a physical boundary between work and home which will help you more easily concentrate and focus while you are working and also ‘switch off’ when you are not,” says Gemma.

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Mistake 4: Skipping meals

Missing meals can cause blood sugar and energy levels to drop, which is why it’s important to make time to eat.

You also don’t want to wind up snacking all day because you’ve lost track of meal times, especially when the fridge and pantry are so close at hand.

The fix:

Rachel suggests that on top of meal planning for the week, schedule dedicated meal times every day (set an alarm if you have to) to ensure you stay on track.

“This will help to reduce overeating in people who find themselves constantly snacking throughout the day, and conversely, remind those who tend to skip meals that it’s time to eat!” she says.

Mistake 5: Working non-stop

Putting in long hours has been linked to everything from diabetes to hypertension, fatigue and sleep issues.

When you don’t have to physically get up from your desk to go home, it can quickly make a long work day the norm.

“It’s important for your mental health that you maintain work life balance (when working from home),” says Gemma.

“We all need a variety of activities in our day to give us different types of stimulation and someone who allows work to take over will be less resilient and more prone to stress, anxiety and depression.”

The fix:

Aim to start and finish at the same time each day to give yourself plenty of time to relax.

Essential coronavirus information

If you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, call the 24/7 hotline on 1800 675 398. You can also use the Healthdirect symptom checker.

Instant Consult offers on-the-spot online GP consultations and can issue medical certificates, prescriptions, radiology and pathology requests and specialist referrals.

For the latest official health and government advice, visit these websites:

Written by Tania Gomez.