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How you can manage your health and wellbeing during stressful times?

By Coach Lisa Ali

2020, you really couldn’t make it up! A year of challenges that none could have foreseen when we heralded in the new decade. Being in Spain, our lockdown gave me some personal challenges, not least being 24/7 with the old man! Joking aside, for most of us these uncertain times are changing our daily routines and causing varying levels of stress around multiple things – not just personal, but regional and global.

From a personal level, the inactivity and being sat at home made me feel caged in. As someone who generally goes out of the house to exercise every day (tennis, gym and walking) I became a little stir crazy, even with having some exercise kit at home, so adaptation was key. From the regional level, I’ve already had friends tell me their businesses are dropping off with people cancelling holidays and weddings, and the small bars and restaurants having to close. Globally, of course we have no idea how this will all pan out, but the likelihood of a global recession is high. So, positively what can we do for ourselves and loved ones during these changing times.

Now of course, I’m no expert on the virus, but some of the basic things I encourage my clients to do will stand you in good stead whatever your situations. The first thing I would say is if you must work from home or are not going out as you were, create a different routine, a new routine. This may be starting the day with some form of exercise – getting the blood pumping and the circulation going. Either do some bodyweight exercises (I’ve put together a new short workout if you would like a copy), or YouTube workouts, do some yoga or stretching. This will get your endorphins going and of course, exercise will boost your immune system.

When we feel stressed, our body goes into fight or flight mode and our cortisol (one of our key health and weight loss hormones) can go crazy. One way to combat stress is by getting good quality sleep – now that may be 7 or 8 hours, it may be less, the point is the quality. This is when our bodies repair and prevents elevation of cortisol (insomnia increases cortisol) which impacts our insulin levels. Again, create a bedtime routine. Switch off devices at least an hour before, maybe a bath or shower to relax and some herbal tea (chamomile or peppermint). I’ve taken to reading a couple of chapters of a real book (paper no less) when I’m in bed which helps me drop off.

Every heard that expression “You are what you eat”? Now is truer than ever to focus on quality of food to help boost your immune system. Reduce processed and fatty foods and fill up on lean proteins, veggies, fruits, complex carbs and healthy fats. I’m not saying give up all your favourite foods and tipples, but work towards a better quality of food overall. There’s really no such thing as a specific immune boosting food, but just look at the quality of what you’re eating and how much. Of course, stay hydrated and drink plenty of water (as always) to flush everything through your body.

My last thoughts on this is the impact that isolation will have on the most vulnerable in society and those who struggle with the mental wellbeing and anxiety. I am not an expert in this field but know people who suffer with anxiety and depression. Perhaps now is the time to pick up the phone and call rather than text. Offer to help your elderly neighbour if they need shopping and think of those who may be less fortunate than you. And likewise, if you need help, reach out. We do know this virus is here to stay, so take control of your health and wellness, which is one thing you most certainly can do.

Tip #1 - Don't wait to find your Mojo! - If you’re waiting till you’re motivated to start a health and weight loss journey, that day isn’t going to come any time soon. Any action is better than no action and it doesn’t have to be perfect to get results. Analysis is paralysis, take a small step to do something – any action is better than none.

Tip #2 - What you can do! - More often than not, we think about what we can’t do not what we can do. We think we can’t go to the gym 5 times a week or that we can’t eat pizza ever again. That’s totally unrealistic. What can you do, now today to take action? Can you eat a healthy breakfast, walk for 20 minutes or drink more water? Eat more fruit and veg?

Tip #3 - Motivation will come! - When you regain control of your actions and take small steps, the motivation will follow. And as you become more motivated, you’ll want to take more action which will lead to building confidence and getting results. You would be surprised at home making small change changes your outlook on the bigger goals!

Lisa Ali is an Author and former interim manager who now works with interim managers and consultants to find their mojo, lose weight and increase energy. For more information please contact Lisa on

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