04 Nov Life after lockdown: Doctor shares 8 tips for breaking bad ‘lockdown habits’
Lockdowns are lifting, domestic and international borders are opening, and a promising future lies ahead for the Australia’s economic recovery.
As the country moves towards a new normal and begins restoring its economic health, an Australian Dr Andrew Thompson, believes the locked down population can do the same for their own health.
He shares his tips for Aussies to improve their health after lockdown.
- Avoiding social interactions. The isolation of lockdown has likely caused many Aussies to feel disconnected from others and become comfortable staying home. After lockdown, many will remain cautious about the health risks and be hesitant to return to face-to-face interactions. Dr Thompson recommends starting slowly. “Start with simple meetups with a friend or family member, perhaps in your home. Share your feelings or any struggles you might have with social interactions or connections. See a doctor, who can help implement strategies to overcome social anxiety through talking therapies. Being open and transparent with loved ones to establish boundaries or asserting yourself in situations that cause discomfort or stress, can help.
- Delayed health checks. During lockdown, many Aussies were hesitant to see a doctor or health professional, which meant delaying vital health checks. Dr Thompson says it is important for Aussies to resume health checks. (such as HBA1C tests to check glycaemic levels, cancer checks, faecal blood tests to check for bowel cancer, skin cancer checks, mammograms and cervical screening and PSA level tests to check for prostate cancer.)
- Avoiding GP visits.InstantScripts’ own data shows that 40 per cent of Aussies have been reluctant to visit a GP due to COVID infection risks. Some Aussies may not have seen their regular doctor for several months. A catch-up visit to the doctor will help them get up to speed on your health during lockdown. “From there, doctors can determine if further tests are needed as well as develop and implement a plan to address any problems and get their patient’s health back on track.”
- Weight gain. Coming out of lockdown, most of us are probably carrying a couple of extra kilos. Having 24-hour access to our kitchens made it easier to turn to food as a comfort source. Returning to healthy food choices can be a little easier by keeping a food diary and eating consciously rather than in front of a screen. Consider buddying up with a friend who has healthy food goals where you could keep each other accountable by assessing your food diaries weekly.
- Alcohol dependency. Some of us might have increased our alcohol intake in lockdown and in some cases an unhealthy dependency might have formed. “Start to become conscious of how much you are drinking and limit your alcohol intake. It is recommended that women and men limit their alcohol to 10 standard drinks per week. I also recommend Aussies reserve at least two days per week where alcohol isn’t consumed. If you are finding it difficult to cut back on alcohol, it is important to consult with your doctor to help address any issues.”
- Screen time dependency. Screens will also have increased considerably during lockdown, with many of us depending on devices for work and entertainment. “Limit screen use in areas that you can control. A good start is to switch mobile phones off when with people, and find a replacement for social media scrolling such as reading a book or doing a crossword. Leave your phone out of your bedroom, so that it is not a cause for late nights.”
- Late nights, late mornings. With work just a few steps from our bedrooms in lockdown, many of us will have fallen out of a consistent sleep schedule. “If you were waking up to an early morning alarm and going to sleep at the same time each night pre-lockdown, try to implement this schedule again. This will make the transition back to the workplace easier.”
- Lack of movement. Dr Thompson says many Aussies have likely fallen out of their normal exercise routines in lockdown. “I recommend picking up your pre-lockdown activities to get back into routine quickly. Even if you are working from home, schedule a break for a daily fitness class. Have a friend join you to make it more enjoyable. Being thoughtful about how much you’re moving is important, as exercise will help improve both your physical and mental wellbeing.”
Dr Andrew Thompson is a registered doctor at InstantScripts, Australia’s leading online prescription and telehealth service, which has helped more than 400,000 Australians access health services. He says readjusting to life after lockdown can be challenging for some.