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COVID-19 has disrupted our lives significantly. As with any significant lifestyle change, you most likely had to make some readjustments to your daily life. You no longer had to factor in MRT transit times and lunch rush hours, among other things. However, you may find that some of these changes were not for the better. Those work pants have been feeling extra snug lately. You find your temper growing shorter as your family members pester you with questions while you’re trying to work. Cabin fever becomes more significant as you continue to stay home as much as possible.

Together, all these changes will start taking a toll on your health. In this second part of our New Normal series, we explore solutions to help you safeguard your health in three main areas: physical, mental, and emotional. 

Get Your Blood Pumping!

When you were younger, you probably spent more time engaging in sports and other physical activities. But as exams and office time became more of a forefront in your life, you found yourself with a pencil in your hand much more than a badminton shuttle or tennis ball. As a result, you have been feeling more and more tired as the years go on. You might attribute this tiredness to aging but a lack of exercise is just as significant a factor. 

Studies have shown that mental health and the ability to process information are higher amongst those who exercise. Thus, to become more productive in the workplace, it is imperative to remain physically active. While a trip to the gym may be risky, creating a workout routine from home is the best way to cope with our new normal.

Creating a routine that you can stick to is paramount to getting in better physical shape. If you can find a buddy to workout with, then you may find it easier to motivate yourself. Plan out your workout schedule a week or more in advance as working out spontaneously can result in erratic workout cycles and possibly lead to injury. Now, you may ask: But I do not have exercise equipment. How can I exercise in my house? Since we can share videos with the click of a button, try going on YouTube to find some exercise videos. You can even engage your creative side and look for household objects as exercise tools. For example, a large bag of rice can be used as a weight.

Has your house seemed more cluttered than usual? Are days, or even weeks, of dirty dishes lying in the sink? If so, then maybe it is time to work through some household chores! Believe it or not, household chores can also be considered a form of exercise. When wiping down windows, you will not have to worry as much about skipping arm day. Changing lightbulbs requires at least some flexibility as you have to contort your body to reach up and unscrew them. However, remember to be careful!

Eat Your Greens!

A healthy diet is just as important as physical exercise when it comes to staying in good physical and mental shape. 

Start by referencing a food pyramid. As with working out different muscle groups, there should not be a food group that is overrepresented. If you have constantly been eating spaghetti, then the carbohydrates part of your diet will overshadow the other food groups.

While there are recommended servings for different food groups, such recommendations should be taken with a grain of salt (no pun intended). Everyone’s body is different and what may be good for one person may not work for another. Some people may be allergic to certain foods. For example, many Asians are lactose intolerant – which can limit their dairy intake. It is best to consult your doctor or a trusted health specialist to know the best diet for your body.

Your Perceptions of the World

Many people do not know the differences between mental and emotional health. Mental health is geared around processing information while emotional health deals with the ability to express feelings after processing information (Heron, 2017). Thus, while the two are closely intertwined, they are not the same. 

During COVID-19, you have probably been processing a lot of negative information repeatedly. If you turn on your TV, the number of COVID-19 cases that have sprung up in the past week will be displayed. Even if you try to avoid watching TV, news sources on your phone and social media will continue to remind you of the pandemic. Will more jobs be cut? Will you even have a job when this pandemic finally fades? Such negative thoughts can become pervasive as it seems that there is no end to the pandemic. However, there are some remedies to help you turn that mindset around.

For starters, try turning off notifications on your electronic devices and leave some time for yourself. It can be easy to compare yourself to others when you are online. For example, if you were to go on LinkedIn, a post about someone getting that prestigious job you’ve always wanted would most likely appear almost immediately. 

Next, engage in something you enjoy doing. Have you always wanted to learn another language? 

Try picking up a Mandarin or French book or practice speaking with someone who speaks them  as their first language. This gets you into a more positive mindset as you feel a sense of accomplishment. When you have a positive perspective on the world, the information you have to process on a day to day basis becomes less antagonistic.

Talk it Out

As we have covered the mental side of things, it is time to tackle the emotional part of the tandem. When looking back on your relationship with others during this time, have you found yourself getting more irritable when someone asks you even the most genial questions? Giving snappy responses to others is a sure way to strain your relationship with that person. But since you’ve helped your mental health, it is pertinent to fix the relationships that have been strained due to COVID-19.

As much as it may feel awkward doing so, it is important to talk things out with the affected party. Tell the person (or people) how you have changed going forward and give examples as to how you have been striving to make that change. Providing examples is important as it shows that you are not relying on empty words and doing so gives others a reminder to keep you on track with your goals. If you have done anything that you regret in the past, it is important to bring those events up and sincerely apologize for them – as much as it may hurt to do so. 

So – you now have an idea for improving the three pillars of health that may have deteriorated during the pandemic. But which one should you tackle first? Or should you work on all aspects of your health concurrently? That is where PEPWorldwide Asia comes in. As workplace consultants, we have experience in dealing with unforeseen circumstances and know the solutions to lead a happier, healthier life. Our HealthPEP solution has helped busy executives integrate healthy practices into their busy schedules. We would be more than happy to schedule an initial consultation at this link: https://www.pepworldwideasia.com/contact-us/

See you soon!

About the Contributor:
Jeremy On is an intern for PEPWorldwide Asia during the summer of 2020. In the fall, he will be entering his final year at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia with a double major in Economics and English. 

Executive Editor:
Angeline V. Teo is the President and Chief Consultant of PEPWorldwide (Asia) Pte. Ltd. She is also an International Speaker, certified Master PEP Consultant, Executive Coach and Author. Above all, she is a caring Mother of two, a loving Wife, filial Daughter and avid Spa and Vacation addict!

PEPWorldwide Asia is the award-winning arm of PEPWorldwide, a global business consultancy that specialises in human capital and organisational development. PEPWorldwide Asia was recognised as the “Most Trusted Corporate Development Consultancy” at the 2020 edition of the Singapore Business Awards, organised by APAC Insider. At the Innovation & Excellence Award 2020, organised by Corporate LiveWire, United Kingdom, PEPWorldwide Asia was also named “Corporate Development Consultancy of the Year”. For enquiries, please email communications@pepworldwideasia.com, we will be happy to customise our solutions for you and your team.