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Joanne Larby shares her tips for mindful living in lockdown

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The little moments matter now more than ever, and with so many struggling during the latest lockdown, there are some simple but extremely effective switches we can make that really give us a boost on bad days.

I recently embarked on my own ‘100 Days of Healthy Challenge’, which includes various factors that have massively impacted my mental health and overall wellbeing. The following six daily habits offer much needed focus and ample feel-good endorphins.

Gratitude

Practicing gratitude has become a fundamental part of my daily routine. We are more tuned in than ever to simplistic, yet magical moments during these increasingly strange times. I find jotting some of these down every morning (or evening) compounds a sense of appreciation for all the small things that perhaps are not so small at all.

I am often asked how to journal, and my extremely straightforward answer is to grab a pen and paper and simply start! Pick a time of day where you have five minutes of peace and quiet away from everything and everyone and spend this time collating anything that makes you smile or feel thankful. Maybe your hubby brought you in a comforting cup of tea or you went for a particularly lovely power walk with your pooch.

Mindful moments

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Mindful moments for me can vary from 10 minutes of uninterrupted meditation, some simple at home spa-like self-care or time spent in nature minus technology.

This pandemic has forced us to slow down, but so many people are now juggling a faster paced life in a new, far less social and energetic environment. Working from home, home schooling, parenting, house chores, walking the dog, trying to find time for your partner, to virtually see friends or family and most importantly, make time for yourself can prove difficult.

If you find you are really struggling with the aforementioned list as long as your arm, scheduling in some mindful moments mean they’re deemed just as important as that team meeting or family Zoom catch up.

Healthy eating

Over the years I have come to realise that fueling my body with feel good food (and enjoying every bite) is far more important than a dress size or aesthetic goal. I want to look forward to each meal and savour every morsel with moderation in mind, and long term goal of feeling happy and healthy.

I like to incorporate a wide variety of fruit and veg, while still indulging in treats here and there, but sometimes time can become a huge factor.

So, if you have many mouths to feed or you’re struggling with ‘what’s on the menu tonight’ The Momenti range of pizzas are not only delicious, they’re quick and easy too. It is so important to take a lunch break during your WFH routine instead of trying to gobble something down at your desk. This tasty pizza solution allows you to spend time on other activities beneficial for your wellbeing during lockdown, like going for that walk or reading a book. The solo serving size also means it feels like there is more for me! Having convenient feel-good food at my disposal, when the working week leaves little time for cooking or clean-up is key.

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100 days of walking

At the start of January I decided to join Ciara Kelly’s #100daysofwalking and it has been one of the most integral parts of my daily lockdown routine. Simply having one achievable goal with a challenging element day in day out, has not only created a new habit but also given me a padding of structure in these powerless times.

Whether it’s lashing rain, or the sun is beaming down outside, you have to get your steps in - even if it’s for a mere 30 minutes. We have a dog so daily walks were already an essential habit, but this power hour is different. There has been so many days where felt like I don’t have the time (or the willpower), but five minutes out the door I’m so glad I did.

The fresh air is an instant mood booster whatever the weather, and it gives you a chance to get away from it all and immerse yourself in the outdoors. I use this time to catch up on my podcasts or call a friend for a natter in nature.

At home workouts

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Changing my lifestyle also meant moving more but this time in ways that I simply enjoy. I focus on moving my body in a bid to feel good, to alleviate any aches and pains from sitting at a computer all day and most importantly, for those free feel-good endorphins.

We often forget the quickest and most effective way to work on our mental health is to exercise. Just like our body, the brain needs to flex those muscles and often requires a helping hand when your mood is particularly low. There are some amazing free classes and workouts online, from YouTube to social media.. Find a class you really love and just like those mindful moments, make it an integral integration into your week.

Learning Something

And finally, in a bid to keep my brain active and make the most of this intense stint indoors, I decided to go back to college and study Interior Design. This has been a bucket list college course I have always put off taking part in due to lack of time. With more of that at our disposal than ever before, choosing something new, exciting or stimulating to get your teeth into will be extremely rewarding.

Maybe you want to dive into a new language in preparation for times we can travel? What about learning a dance routine, taking part in a virtual cooking course, or even teaching your dog new tricks? It does not matter what the something new is, it just matters that it’s something you want to do.

Dr. Oetker's new Momenti Pizza is a small, great-tasting frozen pizza. The two flavours - Tomato, Mozzarella & Pesto and Salami Calabrase - contain up to 450 calories. They are just the right size for a quick lunch or tasty dinner for one. Available in Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Supervalu and BWG. For information, visit the Dr. Oetker website.


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