It may feel like months since you last had a meal at a restaurant, visited your friends and family or enjoyed other activities that you used to do before the pandemic. You have been doing your part to protect yourself and others; however, this may put a strain on your mental health, especially if you are working from home and/or tending to others. Taking care of your mind and body can sometimes be the last thing that is prioritized. It may be difficult to put yourself first during these times, but it's important now, more than ever, to use this opportunity to change or improve your daily routines.
In this article, we hope you can find some healthy habits that you can incorporate in your daily lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope these activities will help ease your worries and stress so you can have more control over your life.
Mental Health: Putting Your Mind First
It's time to trade in those sweatpants for work clothes! Little things that help retain balance and normalcy are key during prolonged stressful situations. Keeping or setting a routine for yourself including a wake up time, breaks during work/study/activities, working out, keep you on task and in control. Try to avoid sleeping in - not only will it make you feel more irritable during the day but studies have shown that oversleeping can be linked to other problematic health conditions.
Taking care of your mental health does not necessarily mean you have to do it alone. The pandemic has given us time to slow down, take this time to reach out to friends and family. If it is safe to do so, you can even organize a small physically distant hangout (please make sure you are aware of relevant government guidelines to stay up-to-date on orders & by-laws to keep your community safe). Staying connected is just as important for our mental health as it is for our physical well being (better sleep, eating better etc.).
Furthermore, most of us may be spending most of our days sitting, from binge-watching TV shows to working at desks or watching our kids - it's important to take breaks and listen to what your body needs. We recommend standing up for 5-10 minutes every hour to get your blood flowing. Try to stretch out your muscles that might feel sore/cramped or walk around while you are doing work calls. If you are still feeling overwhelmed, meditating may be helpful to ease tension in your body. Apps like "Calm" and others have been hugely popular during the pandemic. Being stressed can take a toll on our overall health and it's important to pay attention and take a break whenever we can.
Staying Active: Fitness At Home
As recommended by the World Health Organization, regular physical activity can "reduce high blood pressure, help manage weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers." Finding space and time to workout can be difficult and we can sometimes feel put off and unmotivated. Staying active does not necessarily mean you need to do heavy weight lifting or run a marathon, but can simply mean to keep your body moving at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
Even though team sports and classes are not available at the moment, there are many online workout tutorials available from various fitness instructors and gyms. Depending on what workouts you prefer to do, there are yoga classes, HIIT (high intensity) workouts, dance classes - there is something for everyone or if you are interested in trying something new! If there is space outdoors, you can lay out a mat in the sun, go for a run or bike. Getting some fresh air can help you feel more revived and relaxed.
If you are feeling exhausted or are experiencing flu-like symptoms, please stay safe and don't exercise during this time. Avoid unneeded visits to the doctor to allow healthcare systems to operate more effectively.
Maintaining a healthy diet will help strengthen your immune system against many infections and diseases. Here are some tips you can take to maintain or improve your diet:
Make sure you are drinking at least 8-10 (64 ounces) glasses of water a day: you can bring a water bottle around with you to help remind yourself to drink enough water. Hydrating your body helps your cell function and your body eliminate waste. In addition, it can help prevent headaches and muscle fatigue, aid digestion, and even boost your mood.
Limit your alcohol intake: Having a can/bottle a day can be beneficial to your mood temporarily. However, in the long-run, it can have long-term effects such as liver damage, cancer, heart disease and mental health. It will not help with protecting yourself against COVID-19.
Simple and healthy recipes: Cooking at home can be tiresome, especially if you are cooking for your entire family. Try to prepare multiple meals at once or use a slow cooker so that you do not have to always watch over the stove. One-pot and one-pan meals are especially popular right now and can save precious time. Cooking can also be a fun activity to do with your family, why not get everyone in your household together and give the kids some extra responsibilities this summer "vacation"? But just as important - if you're comfortable to do so - get yourself some takeout once in a while and enjoy the break of not cooking!
We hope that you are doing you best to stay healthy during these uncertain times, and continue to practice physical distancing whenever possible. Let's all continue to look after ourselves and each other!