Our Chief Medical Wellness Officer shares how to maintain a healthy mind and body
Australia’s first Chief Medical Wellness Officer, Dr Bethan Richards, oversees the wellbeing of staff at Sydney Local Health District.
Dr Richards and her MDOK team are supporting our workforce as they care for the community during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.
During challenging periods it’s natural to feel anxious at times so keeping your mind healthy is just as important as keeping your body healthy.
Practicing simple acts of self-care will help improve your physical and mental wellbeing - boosting energy levels, helping manage stress plus promoting a positive outlook.
Dr Richards has some simple tips to share with the community.
Make sure immunisations are up-to-date. It’s vital to ensure your immune system is as prepared as possible. While there currently isn’t a vaccine for Covid-19, there are other preventable disease vaccines everyone should consider getting. Please see your GP to discuss your vaccination status. And, see your GP about getting a flu shot when it becomes available.
Maintain a nutritionally balanced diet. This should include suitable portions from the core food groups - fruit and vegetables; grains and cereals; lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, legumes, nuts and seeds; and dairy or dairy alternatives. Drink plenty of water too.
Stay active by exercising daily and limiting sedentary behaviour to strengthen your immune system. While it may be tricky in the current environment, make time to build regular physical activity into your day. Even if it’s just five minutes to begin with. Leaving the car at home, taking the stairs, short walks outside, or using home exercise videos are all ways to get exercise without needing any equipment. Set small achievable goals, track your progress and share updates with friends and family to stay motivated.
Getting a good night’s sleep is also essential to health and wellbeing. Ideally, it’s suggested adults sleep for at least six to eight hours a night. If you’re struggling to fall asleep, developing a night time routine and introducing healthy sleep habits will help to ensure you’re well-rested. Avoiding caffeine, large meals, and screen time before bed can help improve the quality of your sleep.
While it can be really challenging in times of uncertainty, aim to stay positive and remain calm. If you’re feeling anxious about Covid-19, it can be helpful to remember that most people will have a mild illness, that we have one of the best healthcare systems in the world, and that whatever challenges lie ahead, we will face them together. Focussing on others, volunteering, donating blood and fostering community spirit with small acts of kindness, compassion and care can not only boost your wellbeing but also those around you.
Keep up-to-date using reliable sources, like NSW Health, for information. Remain connected to your colleagues, family and friends using digital technology. Phone calls, emails or text messages will help you maintain social connections and ensure others feel supported as well.
It’s natural, at times, to feel anxious. Recognise that it’s ‘okay, not to be okay.’ Acknowledge and aim to manage your own stress. Practicing mindfulness or meditation can be very helpful. If you feel stressed, talk to friends, family, colleagues or other support people. If you become overwhelmed, be kind to yourself and reach out for help early.