While lockdown continues, it's important that everyone still looks after themselves, both mentally and physically. After bringing you expert tips on food, decluttering, styling, hairdressing and skincare in recent weeks, this time around we are offering guidance on how to keep your minds and bodies fit and ready to cope with extra pressure – as well as some very unique cocktail tips from a big Hollywood star.
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As an avid runner who has completed eight marathons, Nell McAndrew is the perfect person to explain the advantages of taking up the sport during lockdown.
At the age of 47, Nell looks better than ever – no doubt due to her passion for keeping fit. Not only that, but she says running has helped keep her sane during the Covid-19 pandemic while being locked down with husband Paul and their 14-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter.
"Running is so important to me," Nell tells Hello! "When we have been in strict lockdown, it's been a luxury to get out and get moving. It helps so many people feel more positive mentally and it makes you feel more in the moment, as well as taking away all your worries. You can forget about all the awful things that are going on for that short time and it feels like you are recharging yourself."
And this is a theory backed up by none other than the Duchess of Cambridge, who last week posted a video of herself dressed up in her running gear to mark the beginning of Children's Mental Health Week. Breaking off her from her jog, she urged parents and carers to also take care of themselves emotionally. "This is a hugely challenging time for us all so please look after yourself too," she said.
Nell, who tries to run every day and offers live sessions and tips on her Instagram page @nelliemcfitness has offered three top tips to anyone trying to get started with running. And she would like Hello! readers to share their fitness journeys with her. "Now more than ever I think so many people would be grateful for a few words of encouragement. If people tag me in on their running pics on Instagram, I could give them some words of encouragement or share with my followers as so many are runners themselves so will be supportive and encouraging."
1. Just do it
Getting started is the hardest part. Once you have begun, focus on what you have done rather than what you haven't. If you have only done one mile but didn't run five miles, it doesn't matter – it's brilliant that you have done one mile! I also recommend joining running chats so you can get extra encouragement from like-minded people.
2. Age is nothing but a number
Start at any age, it doesn't matter how old you are. Sometimes it's even better if you leave it until later life to start, as you are going to enjoy it even more and really appreciate it. Sometimes when people get older they think they have missed their chance to do that but that's not right – you can do it any time.
3. Focus on other exercises
Apart from running, you can also do basic bodyweight exercises like push ups, lunges and squats as they help you have a strong core and good posture so it will help with all-round strength and endurance. Make sure you are also eating a well-balanced diet and try and cut out or limit alcohol as you will feel better and less sluggish."
Follow Nell McAndrew @nelliemcfitness
Nell McAndrew's Guide to Running is published by Bloomsbury
READ: Best weight loss tips 2021: From meal replacement shakes to metabolism-boosting workouts
Known as the 'Queen of Clean', there is not much that Lynsey Crombie doesn't know about making your home spick and span, as her devoted 218,000 Instagram followers know all too well. The best-selling author and blogger has been following a 'declutter' challenge throughout the month of January, encouraging her fans to do the same, and says it helped focus her mind away from the lockdown blues that so many of us have experienced.
"The challenge has offered consistency and has given people control and something to do," she says. "It might be something as simple as sorting out the sock drawer but it gives people purpose."
1. Tidy house, tidy mind
We are all at home all day and the kitchen is a constant hub of people coming in and out, so the clearer and more organized we keep these rooms, the easier it is for everyone. Try and shut one room off in the day so in the evening you can sit in a clean, tidy room that doesn't have that much traffic.
2. Don't be too ambitious
To avoid taking on too much when you start a big cleaning project, write a plan or 'to do' list and do little and often. Pin something up on the fridge with what you are going to do over the next month and give yourself a little challenge every day. Start small; if you are going to do a kitchen deep clean, don't do it all in one day. Split your kitchen into four sections and do one each day. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do too much.
3. Pack away the homeschool gear
When your children are finished schooling for the day, get all their stationery and folders in a plastic tub and put it under their bed or desk, so it's hidden for the rest of the day. You don't want to walk into the kitchen and see all their stuff everywhere. Take it away from the house for a few hours so you forget about being a teacher and turn back into being a mum.
Follow Lynsey Crombie @lynsey_queenofclean or visit queenofclean.blog
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There have been some unique challenges in store for animal lovers who took the opportunity to purchase a new pooch during lockdown. With puppy sales at an all-time high, pet wellness experts Itch recently commissioned a survey which found that almost three quarters of new owners worry about separation anxiety when life returns to normal.
And dog trainer and behaviourist Oli Juste, Itch's new pet panelist as part of its Advisory Panel, is here to help with any issues new pup owners may face during the first challenging few months of learning to live with a new addition of the furry kind.
"There are two main issues going happening which are making things difficult: socialisation and separation related problems. Many dogs have not even gone to a park before or met other hounds."
Don't wait until lockdown is over to take your dog out because we don't know when this is going to be over. Start doing it now. Get your dog to focus on you with training so when you are outside, instead of letting the dog deal with the new environment you can tap into its cognitive brain and that will really help it relax.
2. Get your pet used to post-lockdown life
For example, The Dogs' Trust has a very good library of noises that includes babies crying, children playing, a traffic jam, a thunderstorm etc. Start at a very low level - we don't want to scare the dog – and if it's fine, you can up the level of sounds.
3. Leave the room
When life goes back to normal people will have to leave the house and that's going to be the hardest thing. So, leave your house! I believe that many dogs will be able to take it upon themselves to cope. If the dog is fine being left on its own, then capitalize on it and slowly but surely increase the amount of time he can be left alone."
Follow Oli Juste @olijustdogtrainer
Legendary Hollywood director Paul Feig has been diversifying his skills of late. The man behind such hit comedies as Bridesmaids and Ghostbusters has turned his hand to cocktails, creating some rather unique creations to amuse his fans. Earlier this year, he posted a video once a day for 100 straight days called Quarantine Cocktail Time, where he showed his fans how to mix the perfect drink from his Los Angeles home.
"Work on my production finished and I was going to be sitting around for a couple of months, but I felt like I wanted to help somehow, so I thought I would try to entertain people," he says. "I don't do it daily anymore, but now we do it once every one or two weeks. I love it, we have a lot of people who love it."
1. Embrace the process
There is something great about making cocktails as it's different from pouring a glass of wine. It's a formal thing you do, there is a real pageantry to it. There is something about cocktails that lifts you out of sweatpants mood. It just keeps us feeling as normal as we possibly can. It marks out the end of the day, too.
2. Keep it simple
I have started inventing cocktails - I have created about 20 now, and the more you make, the more you see the different properties.
I am a martini fanatic and I have spent my life perfecting them, which takes a while even though there are really only two ingredients. I have that kind of cocktail that I like which is very pure but then I do also love some complicated cocktails. I don’t love making stuff on the stove and getting a centrifuge etc. I don’t doing any of that.
3. Look at the science behind the drink
What are a lot of interesting tastes that work together? Do these things all work? Does that spirit mix with that mixer? Making a good, new cocktail is a bit like a scientific experiment, it's like cooking. Do these things taste good together? Will a dash of this work? I love making cocktails at home and I have even created my own gin, which is coming to London in April. These are two originals I invented:
The Quarantini (Or The Feigtini)
3 ounces Artingstall's Brilliant London Dry Gin (or whatever other gin you have)
1 ounce saki
1 ounce Cointreau
Dash of orange bitters
Combine ingredients (except the twist!) in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist and enjoy!
The Squeaky Door
1 ½ ounces Artingstall's Brilliant London Dry Gin (or whatever other gin you have)
½ ounce cherry liqueur
½ ounce orange curacao
½ ounce St. Germain
2 dashes cherry bitters
Juice from half a lemon
Follow Paul Feig @paulfeig
James Reeves and Gabrielle Brown
Business and romantic partners James and Gabrielle know a thing or two about keeping calm. The couple are co-authors of The Book of Rest: Stop Striving. Start being, while James is a leading yoga expert and Gabrielle a dedicated yoga teacher. And they both say that, amid the current chaos, the best thing to do is just stop. "Give yourself permission to rest and try and address the sense that there's something inefficient about doing nothing. It’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself," James says.
1. Go easy on yourself
"There is a new kind of chaos in our minds as we have got these new responsibilities we have to make work," says Gabrielle. "People are asking themselves 'How can I school my child and continue to work?' and the answer is that you can't. So the first thing to remember is to give yourself permission to not achieve."
2. Relax with your children
"As parents, being prepared to stop is great; kids love lying down and doing nothing," says James. "Time with your child doesn't mean entertaining them – you could make a den and lie in it together," explains Gabrielle. "You will be surprised how they will stop and snuggle in with you because you have stopped. It could be just what everybody needs to feel a bit better about where they are with everything."
3. Give up control
"Recognise that you are not going to do everything perfectly and don't beat yourself up about that," says James. "We can't control anything at all at the moment. Recognise that we can't control your children's willingness to be learn or world events, so turn that around from trying to control everything and recognise when you are overwhelmed or can’t get into a task."
For more information visit restfulbeing.com
The Book of Rest by James Reeves and Gabrielle Brown is published by HQ and costs £8.99.
As a professional on Strictly Come Dancing, Giovanni knows only too well how dance can give us a lift, especially during lockdown. "Learning to dance is great for boosting your confidence and your mood," says the star, who waltzed all the way to the semi-finals of last year’s Strictly with TV presenter Ranvir Singh. The Italian dancer is helping keep his fans' toes twinkling during lockdown with hour-long live dance classes every weeknight at 5pm. "I try to challenge myself and my students to do new dance styles – last week I introduced the Lindy Hop. I get people to send me videos of them doing the routines so I can see their progress every week. I love to see people improving, it’s very rewarding."
1. Find your passion
I always say you have to have a reason to start dancing. You need a passion for dancing and music. Or, if you haven't danced before, you have to want to challenge yourself. The first thing to do is stretch to get your body ready to dance. If you're doing a slow dance, do a simple stretch, if it's a fast dance, do a bit of cardio to get your heart rate up for five minutes.
2. Start with something easy
When I teach people who have never danced before, I always do Cha Cha or Salsa dance moves because they are the easiest steps to remember. For instance, the Cha Cha goes: Step forward, replace (i.e. step back to your starting point), then step backward and replace.
3. Build your steps up slowly
When you've mastered basic footwork, put your moves to slow music at first, then you can increase the speed. Next, try to coordinate the rest of your body with the footwork by adding some arm action, which I describe as the cherry on the cake. Once you've got the footwork mastered, you can make it look beautiful. The most important thing is to enjoy yourself and let yourself move with the music.
To join Giovanni's dance classes, book a weekly dance pass at lockdowndanceclass.co.uk
Since its launch just two weeks ago, more than 10,000 children have taken advantage of musician and broadcaster YolanDa Brown's free online music lessons. Designed for teachers, parents and pupils, YolanDa has created online lesson plans, learning material and videos, all of which are available on educational platform Twinkl. YolanDa, who recently released her debut album for children, YolanDa's Band Jam, an accompaniment to her popular musical programme on CBeebies, said she is happy her resources are being used by teachers in online lessons. "I offer lots of great musical educational nuggets, with a lot of fun and dancing, and a lot of teachers have messaged me saying that they use it as a resource in the classroom. It's amazing how many people have downloaded it already."
Music, she says, "allows creativity and it's a nice break from the worksheets and the literacy and numeracy. I think it's a nice way to continue learning."
1. Use your voice
"The great thing about music is that it can start with a voice.
If you don't have anything around you, you always have your voice, and it's nice if you can pick up a melody and sing along to your favourite song or make up your own tune. If you want to find some instruments around the house, some Tupperware and a spoon is a great place to start. You can get a nice drumbeat going with that."
2. Get grooving
"When times are trying or you can feel the mood is coming down, always take a dance break. You could ask your child to pick a song or think of something that you know the family likes and everybody has to get up and dance and move around. Even if it’s a slow song, slow movement and expression is lovely.
3. Make mealtimes musical
Try, if possible, to eat together. The way this relates to music is that after the meal is done, it's nice to have a conversation but if you have forks on your plates and hands on tables, you can start a nice rhythm. You don't have to be musical to enjoy music. It's more about the communication together and having fun and being silly. some of the best music comes out from being silly and free!"
Follow Yolanda Brown @yolandabrown or visit yolandabrown.com