Mistakes were made.
The spring lockdown was our first time at the rodeo. Lurching into the unknown created an ‘end of days’ vibe that made it acceptable to exist on biscuits and avoid daylight for weeks on end.
The downside is that it made us feel terrible; lack of exercise ruined our sleep patterns, lack of sleep wrecked our eating habits… and round and round we went in a grouchy, fretful circle.
If there is anything that will help us cope with six weeks indoors this time, it’s hindsight.
For instance, the hours spent cultivating sourdough starter and kneading dough in the kitchen were a good distraction from the news, but I didn’t need to eat every one of my carbohydrate creations afterwards. Lesson learned.
Here are five things we’ll be doing differently during Take Two.
1. Take it easy on the booze
Sometimes a big glass of wine is just what the doctor ordered, but overdoing it on the regular can leave you dehydrated, anxious and grumpy – not ideal during the challenging weeks ahead. A tried and tested trick is to find a fancy fizzy drink that doesn’t contain alcohol, then pour it into a pretty glass to enjoy while you relax in the evening.
Fresh lime and soda water over ice is even better if you dress it up with slices of cucumber or orange.
Something & Nothing do an excellent little range of clean seltzers in unique flavours such as Yuzu and Hibiscus and Rose. At around 40 calories per can, they’re sweetened with grape juice and lemon juice, extracts and botanicals.
A Cork stockist will be announced soon but in the meantime, you can order a six-can Taster Pack here.
2. Edit your takeaway menu collection
Ordering in is a lockdown luxury we’ve come to rely on this year, but all those creamy korma calories can wreak havoc on your health if you go overboard. The good news is there are loads of Cork takeaways that offer health-but-delicious options, packed with veggies, nutritious ingredients and grilled proteins.
Swap the burger and chips for a Palestinian Falafel and Fatoush Salad from Umi Falafel, try the Grilled Salmon with a Meze selection from Nosta, or trade your greasy ‘3-in-one’ for a ‘Feel Good’ Curry from Camile Thai – many of the main courses are under 450 calories.
3. Bake yourself happy
Listen; a tray of oozing Oreo brownies is a beautiful thing indeed, but save the showstoppers for special occasions. If you love to get lost in an afternoon’s baking, now is a good time to start testing some recipes that won’t lead you with the sugar jitters.
Hit the Quay Co-op or the health section of the supermarket for some different flours, dried fruit and nuts to experiment with. Then bake a tray of sweet potato or pumpkin brownies (oddly good – there are hundreds of recipes online) or some flapjacks or muffins to have with your tea (instead of a whole packet of HobNobs).
If you really want to amp up the feel-good factor, Cork nutritionist Vicky Allen shares delicious recipes for grain-free, fibre-packed treats (and all the amazing benefits you can expect) in her Instagram feed.
4. Get your heart pumping
The lockdown guidelines might be strict, but they do not require us to remain indoors until Christmas. In fact, the one thing all health experts agree on is that fresh air and exercise (within 5km of home) is vital to our health and mental wellbeing.
Whether you feel like pulling on your runners or not, a brisk walk will never make you feel worse and it’s almost guaranteed to make you feel better. Even a 20-minute loop of the local park will help soothe anxiety and get those mood-boosting endorphins firing.
According to the Level 5 guidelines, it’s fine to meet with someone from one other household “in an outdoor setting which is not a home or garden, such as a park” for exercise so teaming a stroll and good gossip a few times a week is a win/win.
Your dog will thank you too.
5. Stretch out
When the weather is dodgy, online yoga is an excellent way to stretch out tense muscles and ensure you sleep soundly at night.
You don’t need any yoga experience either – Cork Chair Yoga Teacher and founder of FloWithMe Sara de Miguel Hernández runs regular virtual classes that anybody, of any age, can benefit from.
“The beauty of Chair Yoga is that no matter your fitness or flexibility level, by practicing this type of yoga, you will reap the benefits,” Sara told Yay Cork.
“Particularly so for those with reduced mobility, disabilities or chronic health problems. There are proven benefits for those with mobility issues (including the elderly) and also huge benefits for cancer patients as the practice reduces fatigue, improves physical functioning and helps promote better sleep.”
You can sign up for a monthly Chair Yoga package from €25 here.