Though it seems we’ve been following stay-at-home orders for months, COVID-19 cases are on the rise again. So, for many of us, self-isolating continues.
Have you developed a stay-at-home routine that’s healthy and productive? While advice on how to do this abounds, many of us haven’t. And long periods of inactivity, binging on Netflix or social media, over-eating or drinking too much can cause a host of health problems that will outlast the pandemic.
Need some help?
Here are Some Steps to Consider Taking:
Stick to a Routine
“Studies in resiliency during traumatic events encourage keeping a routine to your day,” Deborah Serani, PsyD, professor of psychology at Adelphi University and author of Sometimes When I’m Sad, recently told Forbes Magazine. “This means eating meals at regular times, sleeping, walking and exercising at set times, and maintaining social (socially distant) contact. Unstructured time can create boredom, spikes in anxiety, or depression, which can lead to unhealthy patterns of coping.”
As the wellness.com blog tells us, one of the worst things you can do is spend all day in a chair or all evening on the sofa. If you are working from home, you have some set things to do that help structure your routine.
If not, consider some spring cleaning. Or go through those boxes of storage in the basement and purge what you no longer use. Is there something else you have been putting off? Do it, and try to stay on your feet for as much of the day as possible by following a list of tasks that makes you do so.
Though gyms have reopened in some states, it might be wise not to go back yet. One way to get the exercise and sunlight that you need is simply by taking brisk walks outdoors.
Don’t have a place to walk? Wellness.com suggests maximizing workouts in close quarters by trying 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene, or the 30 Day Fitness Challenge by HIIT Total Body.
Exercise is something that everyone needs, regardless of age, and regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it’s a run around your neighborhood or lifting weights at the gym, the Mayo Clinic recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise each week. Sometimes, you may miss a workout here and there. Missing a single workout isn’t going to reverse all the progress you’ve made, but as one of my previous blog posts explains, missing multiple workouts can have serious, adverse effects.
Focus on Nutrition Known to Fight Illness
Many Americans are used to eating out. With restaurant closures, partial reopenings, and the potential risk of congregating at some of them, eating healthy meals is challenging. Do not resort to a fast-food drive-through.
If you aren’t masking up and going into the grocery store, get grocery delivery, and keep fresh fruits and vegetables at the top of your list.
This is an important time to focus on a diet that supports a strong immune system and is known to fight colds and flu.
If you’re eating a meat-heavy diet, without a good balance of fruit and vegetables, you’re more susceptible to catching a cold or virus. Why? Because plant-based foods offer critical vitamins and nutrients that your immune system depends on.
What should you be eating during the cold or flu season, or unprecedented pandemic? You can’t go wrong with plant-based foods, but there are several, including garlic, ginger, hot peppers, berries, and green leafy vegetables – that are known to prevent cold and flu.
Try “Forest Bathing”
Increasingly, research is finding that spending time in nature improves physical and mental health.
A meta-analysis in the journal Environmental Research found that people who spent time “forest bathing,” also known as shinrin yoku, had a notably reduced risk for chronic health issues, including reduced risk of coronary heart disease, lower cholesterol, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol, lower blood pressure and lower heart rate.
It is thought that forest bathing might improve the immune system, perhaps through the chemicals that trees release, phytoncides. Some studies have found that people who spend more time in nature have a greater activity of immune cells known as natural killer cells.
Get Started Now
Give one or more of these suggestions a dedicated effort for at least a week. Will it make you feel healthier and happier than you do by spending time binging on movies or scrolling through your social media news feeds where the day’s news is not good? I bet it will.