The strict, but necessary rules announced by the UK Government to limit the spread of coronavirus including social distancing and only venturing out when absolutely necessary has left many people feeling unsettled and out of sorts. Our normal sleep patterns are all over the place as we contemplate the daily updates in the news, adapt to changes in our routine and worry about our loved ones. It can feel mentally draining.
Our normal hardwired natural physiological reaction to a perceived threat or to our survival is the ‘fight-or-flight response’. The problem is that in todays’ strange world, we are being told to stay at home and just avoid it. All our usual routines are literally all ‘on hold’ until further notice and it feels very strange. This will end, but it’s going to take a quite a while until we reach some sort of normality again.
If you are struggling with uncontrollable or overwhelming levels of stress and anxiety, then you should call your local GP surgery or the NHS 111 helpline straightaway and ask for help and advice.
However, if you think it is something you can probably manage yourself with some guidance, you can find lots of helpful tips and information online such as at this NHS site here.
As long as an underlying health condition has been ruled out, you might want to look at the 10 lifestyle tweaks we’ve collated for you below:
1. Drinking plenty of water – feeling tired and weak are early signs of dehydration so aim for 6-8 glasses of fluid a day, for example, water, sugar-free squash, tea, coffee, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk. Also tuck into plenty of fruits, vegetables, soups and stews – all excellent sources of water for your body.1 Unfortunately, you’re more likely to become dehydrated as you age because of a lowered water volume in your body, and a reduced sense of thirst, too.
2. Taking daily exercise – exercise helps release beneficial feel-good hormones such as cortisol. Also, sitting too much can weaken your heart and muscles, and also make you feel depressed2 – all of which makes you feel really tired. On the other hand, just a single exercise session, lasting 21-40 minutes, can give a natural energy boost.3
3. Stay in regular contact with friends, neighbours, family and carers while staying safely at home. It is so important for our mental wellbeing to use this period to maintain and build healthy relationships with people you can trust. Phone & video calls are absolutely fine instead of meeting in person – whether it's with people you normally see often or connecting with old friends to may have lost touch with.
4. Limit your exposure to prolonged news & media information with coverage of the outbreak. It may be worth switching off any new alerts you may have on any digital devices. Only use trustworthy and reliable sources for your information- such as GOV.UK or the NHS website.
5. Eat a balanced healthy diet, rich in fruit, vegetables, fibre and protein. Frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables can come in very useful right now. Also, tuck into fibre-rich foods. Your diet is very important when it comes to your energy level: eating too many refined carbohydrates, like white bread, cake and biscuits, will give you energy dips and crashes. Instead, choose foods rated low on the glycaemic index (GI), such as oats, wholemeal bread, brown rice, plus pulses, beans, nuts and seeds. Packed with fibre, these foods release their glucose into your bloodstream slower – keeping your blood sugar levels steady all day, and your energy higher.4
6. Try some simple relaxation techniques. Meditation, mindfulness, yoga and breathing exercises can all make a real difference. For suggestions see here.
7. Stick to the same sleep and wake-up times. It makes sense that a poor night’s sleep will affect your energy levels the next day. But the trouble is that as you get older, your sleep patterns can change. With added worries it can be a recipe for long term sleep issues. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time each day – it will help reset your biological clock. For some useful tips on how to get a better night sleep perhaps check your sleep hygiene, for further information see The Sleep Council. Before bed, try a relaxing warm bath, perhaps use essential oils such as Lavender and make sure your room is well ventilated. Switch off digital media to avoid blue light. It has been shown that late evening use of screens is a major cause of disrupted high-quality sleeping patterns. As well as keeping you alert and awake devices produce intense blue light, affecting melatonin production, the hormone which makes you feel sleepy.5
8. Keep busy - set achievable daily goals – gardening, writing, reading, puzzles, board games, crosswords, crafting, cleaning, baking, tidying out cupboards or even volunteering in a safe capacity... the list is endless. Having a daily goal gives you something to focus on and a feeling of achievement when it’s completed so give it a go.
9. Reducing your alcohol intake and avoid illegal drugs. It’s easy to slip into bad habits when routines change. Keep stock of your intake and don’t be tempted to use it to help you cope.
10. Try a supplement - Consider adding a supplement to your routine for a month to see if it helps. Certain nutrients can help reduce feelings of tiredness and fatigue, according to the European Commission,6 for example the mineral magnesium – found in green leafy veg, nuts, pulses and wholegrains7 – and vitamin B3, also known as niacin, which is in chicken, fish, nuts, wholegrains and pulses.8
The supplement Manuka Plus Honey Relax contains both these key nutrients, plus others chosen to support the nervous system, like the B-vitamin biotin, found in eggs and salmon.9
Our Manuka Plus Honey Relax food supplement will make sure you get 100% NRV* dose of both niacin (vitamin B3) & biotin and 26% NRV* of magnesium in this convenient daily tablet. Manuka Plus Honey Relax also contains a daily dose of:
Bee pollen, which has been shown to reduce feelings of physical and mental tiredness. Collected by bees to turn into ‘bee bread’ for food: a 2015 study by the Medical University of Silesia, Poland found that bee pollen can improve the blood supply to the body’s nervous system, helping to reduce stress and also physical and mental tiredness.10
Rhodiola rosea, a herb that can give energy levels a boost while curbing stress. For centuries, the herb rhodiola rosea was used as a traditional remedy for anxiety, depression and tiredness in Russia and Scandinavia. Today, rhodiola roots are considered adaptogens – the name given to a type of plant that may curb the effects of stress on the body. Rhodiola can slow the release of stress hormones while giving energy levels a boost, according to a 2018 study in International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice.11
5-HTP is a compound our bodies create from the amino acid tryptophan, and we need it to make serotonin – an important neurotransmitter that helps to balance and regulate your mood.12 Some researchers think that taking 5-HTP in supplement form is useful, and may help soothe panic, for example.13
Mānuka honey (MGO 300), this high-strength honey, is made by bees collecting nectar from New Zealand Mānuka bushes, contains the active ingredient methylglyoxal (MGO), which has an antimicrobial14 and also anti-bacterial effect on the body, according to a 2018 study by Ulster University.15 Our Mānuka honey is harvested from Manuka Doctor hives high in the New Zealand mountains, and then freeze-dried into powder.
Discontinue use and consult a doctor if adverse reactions occur.
Avoid this product if you have allergies to pollen, bees or bee products. Do not use this product without first consulting with your doctor if you are under medical supervision, on prescribed medication, pregnant, breastfeeding, have asthma or related allergies. Do not use if suffering from liver or kidney disease.
Suitable for Vegetarians
• No Added Flavourings or Colourings • Gluten Free • No Soya & Nuts • No GMO's • No Added Dairy or Yeast •
*NRV = Nutrient Reference Value
1. British Nutrition Foundation. Healthy hydration guide. https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/hydration.html
2. University Health News Daily. Top 5 Fatigue Causes: Understanding Why You’re So Tired. https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/energy/top-five-fatigue-causes-understanding-why-youre-so-tired/
3. Loy BD, O’Connor PJ, Dishman RK. The effect of a single bout of exercise on energy and fatigue states: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health & Behavior. Vol 1, 2013. 223-242. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/21641846.2013.843266
4. Harvard T.H. Chan. Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/
5. Waking up to the health implications of poor sleep habits https://www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5370(19)30044-6/fulltext
6. European Commission. EU Register of nutrition and health claims made on foods. http://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/labelling_nutrition/claims/register/public/?event=register.home
7. National Institutes of Health. Magnesium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
8. National Institutes of Health. Niacin: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Niacin-HealthProfessional/
9. National Institutes of Health. Biotin: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Biotin-HealthProfessional/
10. Komonsinska-Vassev K, et al. Bee Pollen: Chemical Composition and Therapeutic Application. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:297425. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4377380/
11. Anghelescu IG, et al. Stress management and the role of Rhodiola rosea: a review. Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2018 Jan 11:1-11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29325481\
12. Medical News Today. What are the health benefits of 5-HTP? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324025.php
13. Schruers K, et al. Acute L-5 hydroxytryptophan administration inhibits carbon dioxide-induced panic in panic disorder patients. Psychiatry Research. Vol 113, Issue 3, 30 Dec 2002, 237-243. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165178102002627
14. Alvarez-Suarez JM, et al. The Composition and Biological Activity of Honey: A Focus on Manuka Honey. Foods. 2014 Sep;3(3):420-432. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5302252/
15. Johnston M, et al. Antibacterial activity of Manuka honey and its components: An overview. AIMS Microbiology. 2018. 4(4):665-664. https://www.aimspress.com/fileOther/PDF/microbiology/microbiol-04-04-655.pdf