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Why a simple Post-it note may save YOUR life

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We’re all aware of the official advice. But could we be doing more to boost our wellbeing, shore up our mental health and protect ourselves during the pandemic? 

ANGELA EPSTEIN asked the experts for their survival tips. 

Learn a language to switch off Dr Adam Simon, a GP in Manchester, says: 

Learn a language to switch off Dr Adam Simon, a GP in Manchester, says…

Given what I do for a living, I’m resigned to getting Covid-19, even though I am now doing telephone and video consultations rather than meeting patients in person. 

But to ensure my body is functioning well when the virus hits, I now take a multivitamin — to cover all bases. I also run or walk at least four miles a day — at 6am or 10pm when the streets are quiet, and to avoid crowds. 

And I’ve cut down on crisps, chocolate and biscuits, as there is no doubt that obesity has an effect on general health, including susceptibility to illness. I have also started learning French and Hebrew — on the Duolingo website so that when I pick up my mobile phone I’m not drawn straight to depressing news sites, but to something more positive. 

I’ve also started playing the guitar again. Any hobby is good for mental health and helps you relax after a hard day’s work. I wipe touch points with diluted bleach (surfaces, door handles, and doorbell) and anything coming in to the house, specially from the supermarket. 

There are five of us — myself, my wife and our three children — and we’re pulling together to get through this. 

Keep to your daily schedule Dr Sandi Mann, a psychologist from the MindTraining Clinic based in Manchester, gives this advice. 

Keep to your daily schedule Dr Sandi Mann, a psychologist from the MindTraining Clinic based in Manchester, gives this advice

The important thing during the coronavirus pandemic is to try to control what we can — because everything else is out of control. 

This isn’t a holiday, it is real life. 

So it’s important to organise a schedule; at the moment I plan my day the night before so that I get up knowing what I should be doing. 

Otherwise, it can all feel utterly overwhelming. I don’t watch the news more than once a day and I try to get outside — that might simply mean going into the back garden. 

I think it’s also important we try to find ways of appreciating what we have in life, in my case that I have a lovely husband and three children that I am proud of — and count our blessings. 

Use tins of lentils from the cupboard Helen Bond, a dietitian based in Derbyshire, is rethinking what she shops for. 

I go running for 30 minutes first thing in the morning. There’s hardly anyone around, it boosts the endorphins — the body’s feel-good hormones — and helps me get set up for the day. 

Use tins of lentils from the cupboard Helen Bond, a dietitian based in Derbyshire, is rethinking what she shops for

I’m trying out different recipes using store cupboard staples such as tinned beans and pulses — it might be a lentil curry or ratatouille with beans.

I’d rather use up tins I have in the cupboard than go out to the supermarket for the sake of it. 

And pulses count as part of our five a day and are also good sources of fibre. I am also buying a lot more frozen fruit and vegetables such as peas — a fantastic source of vitamin C, important for the immune system, and folate, to reduce fatigue. 

They’re frozen at source so contain lots of vitamins and minerals — people tend to forget that. I also back local farmers by buying produce at the gate — fewer people than at supermarkets so contamination risk is lower. 

Tech breaks to clear our minds Sean Woodward, a pharmacist in North Staffordshire tries not to look at his phone all the time. 

Tech breaks to clear our minds Sean Woodward, a pharmacist in North Staffordshire tries not to look at his phone all the time

At the moment, work is so busy and we have many prescriptions to process. People are constantly contacting us with their worries. We are currently closing for two hours a day — 9am to 11am — just to catch up on prescriptions or ring patients back.

 But during that time we also take 20 minutes away from the phones and our mobiles just to clear our minds. It’s also important to focus on getting a decent night’s sleep — so many people feel mentally exhausted at the moment because of what is going on but can’t drop off when they get into bed. So I make sure evenings are relaxing. 

I’ll watch the news but have a cut-off point of about 8pm, after which I don’t watch or read it any more. And I always have a warm bath before going to bed — when you get out of the bath you get a drop in body temperature and that helps you sleep. 

Keeping the bedroom cool and changing bedding regularly also helps — the feel of clean sheets makes it more of a pleasant experience. I also use a lavender spray — the herb is thought to have sleep-inducing properties and it helps me drop off. 

Plan daily exercise for all the family Dr Jenna Macciochi, an immunologist at the University of Sussex and author of The Science Of Staying Well has enlisted her children’s help to keep fit. 

Plan daily exercise for all the family Dr Jenna Macciochi, an immunologist at the University of Sussex and author of The Science Of Staying Well has enlisted her children’s help to keep fit

Now I’m working at home with the children — I have five-year-old twins — I find it is important to keep moving throughout the day rather than just in one session. So I’ll set an alarm on my phone to do one block of work at my desk and then do fun exercises with the children afterwards. 

One thing we do is go down on all fours — putting the hands, knees, and feet on the floor — then lift the knees up — so all weight is on the toes and hands. Keeping our backs nice and straight, we then go ‘bear crawling’ around the house together. This easy exercise gets the heart rate up and works all of the core muscles, too. We do 60 seconds and have a break and do three rounds. 

We do this three times every day. To avoid any fussy eating, I have shown my children the empty supermarket shelves — it really surprised them. It made them realise things are different now and made it easier to explain we don’t have everything they might normally like to eat. 

Take extra care in the supermarket Dr Andrew Freedman, an honorary consultant physician and reader in infectious diseases at Cardiff University is wary in shops. 

Being at a hospital on the frontline, my biggest risk is at work but we have protective clothing, such as masks and gloves. 

Take extra care in the supermarket Dr Andrew Freedman, an honorary consultant physician and reader in infectious diseases at Cardiff University is wary in shops.

However, even though that is where I’m most likely to catch the virus, I make sure that I take precautions out of work, too — especially when going to the shops or supermarket. 

For everyone it’s so important to wash your hands as soon as you come home. And if you do wear gloves, you need to take them off carefully or you risk leaving the virus on your skin. 

What we are also doing in our home is making sure we stay in touch with family and friends over the internet. 

Contact is so important especially for those struggling because they live alone, or who are in isolation. 

Sticker on the door reminds people to wash their hands

Lisa Ackerley, a hygiene expert in the South West of England ensures her family remember to stick to the wash-your-hands rule.

I keep a Post-it note outside the front door which reads ‘wash hands before you touch anything’ — it acts as a reminder to everyone coming into the house.

Lisa Ackerley, a hygiene expert in the South West of England ensures her family remember to stick to the wash-your-hands rule

When parcels are delivered I have instructed the driver — again via a Post-it note — to leave them in the porch and I don’t touch them for three days (unless urgent). By then the virus will have died — coronavirus survives for 72 hours on hard surfaces.

If I do have to open a parcel, I tip the contents onto the floor rather than letting the box touch furniture in my home. Then I throw the outer packaging away and wash my hands .

The same is true of non-perishable items, such as tinned goods. If you’ve been shopping, leave them in the car boot for three days.

As for laundry — there are three of us in the house and we leave it in a bag, with a date on it for three days — we don’t put anything else inside — that way, any virus is deactivated before it goes into the wash as normal.

And now that cleaning sprays are running low, I’m turning to good old bottles of bleach — just dilute in accordance with instructions. I mix it with water in an empty spray bottle.

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