Let’s be realistic about making healthy plans for the future 07 April 2020 Our Health Defence program supports people to make positive changes to improve their health and wellbeing. To do this, the important thing is that you have to make changes, no matter how small they may seem at the time. The current lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus has presented a challenge we have never met before. But Kevin Miller, our Health Defence Coordinator, has some useful tips to help you make small, healthy changes whilst you’re at home. Here he shares his tips on how we can start making healthy plans for the future. What kind of healthy changes are realistic right now? As the Health Defence Coordinator, I have imagined how the conversation would go if I was trying to encourage someone who was isolated at home to improve their diet, reduce their smoking, or think about cutting down their alcohol intake. Clearly, this situation has a big impact on our current ability (both physically and mentally) to make changes when so many of us are experiencing feelings of fear, confusion or frustration. With this in mind, I asked myself what changes are realistic, and what would be a success in these difficult and stressful times? I believe the answer is to think about your lifestyle before the coronavirus outbreak. Each day, how many cigarettes did you smoke? How much alcohol did you drink? And what did you have to eat? In the current lockdown, some of these things may change – often not for the better. Introduce healthy changes by setting health goals At some point this lockdown will be over, and we can look forward to a healthier future, so why not start working towards that right now by making small changes? Take a moment to think about what aspect of your health you would like to improve. Make this your new health ‘goal’ to focus on. It will help if you write your goal down and then think of steps to break it into small and achievable actions. For example, your health goal could be to stop smoking. This is one of the best things you can do for your health and also important right now as coronavirus affects your lungs. Smaller steps to do this would be to start buying packets of 10 cigarettes a day instead of 20. Then in a few weeks, make a point of not buy a packet of 10 on one or two days of the week, and continue to gradually reduce this. It helps to have a deadline as this can focus your actions. This same goal setting method can also be used to reduce alcohol intake or make changes to your diet. Whatever you choose to do, at the very least, it is important to think about not drinking or smoking more than what you would have normally done. Get support to lead a healthy lifestyle If you are struggling with this and need support, or would like to share your new health goals with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland are here to support you through these difficult times and want to work together with you to build a healthier future after the coronavirus outbreak. To find out more about our Health Defence services and how we can support you to make healthy plans for the future, please visit www.chss.org.uk/healthdefence or email firstname.lastname@example.org.