Most of us know the basics of taking care of our physical and mental health. But due to the COVID-19 epidemic, many are wondering how to maintain their wellness while so many areas of daily life are now restricted. Here are seven tips for maintaining your health and well-being while practicing social distancing due to COVID-19.
1. Maintain Regular Aerobic Activity
Exercise strengthens the immune system and helps with anxiety and mood. The United States comprises 32.29% of the worldwide sports equipment, apparel, footwear, and bicycle market. But even if you don’t own any sports equipment, you’ll need to find ways to exercise if your gym has been shut down. Moderate exercise is better than none, but the greatest benefit to health and well-being is an aerobic exercise that gets the heart rate up. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should get between 150 and 300 minutes per week of aerobic exercise at a moderate level of intensity, plus strength training twice every week. You can work in a few minutes at a time if that’s what fits your schedule, as long as it adds up to at least 150 minutes in a week.
Indoor activities can include walking briskly through your home or up your stairs, dancing, jumping rope, working out to an exercise video, and using cardio machines like treadmills or stationary bikes if you have them. Outdoor activities must be done while maintaining a distance of six feet from others. They can include speed-walking, running, bicycling, gardening, and playing catch or touch football with your family in the backyard. For strength training, you can use a smartphone app, follow a video, practice yoga, and do squats, push-ups, and lunges.
2. Avoid Too Much News Consumption
While it’s important to stay informed about COVID-19, it’s potentially damaging to your mental health to watch or read endless stories about the pandemic. Get your news from well-regarded sources that don’t hype an already dramatic situation. Determine how much news you can absorb before you start to feel overwhelmed and set a limit. For example, watching one hour of news per day will give you the headlines you need to know about, but won’t subject you to repeat facts and images that may have a cumulative negative effect on your emotional well-being.
3. Handle Food Safely
To reduce your risk of picking up the virus from groceries you buy at a store or have delivered, put items aside for three days unless they must be refrigerated or frozen. Before you eat uncooked fresh produce, wash vigorously with running water and use a vegetable scrub brush with minimal soap for extra protection. Clean the scrub brush using more soap and running water after each time you use it. You may want to wash the surface of containers for perishables, particularly containers that are handled often such as those for milk or juice. After washing food and containers, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly.
4. Get Adequate Nutrition
While some do not consider frozen or canned foods to be as nutritious as fresh foods, products such as fish, beans, and vegetables and frozen meals containing chicken or whole grains can provide essential vitamins and minerals. They also last longer than fresh foods, which can cut down on your grocery store trips. Processing does not reduce the amount of protein in foods and companies often add B vitamins and iron that can be stripped away through processing. When fruits and vegetables are frozen soon after being picked, they keep most of their vitamin C.
5. Take Care of Your Hair
Since hair salons have been forced to close their doors, you might be tempted to cut or color your own hair. After all, the typical woman alters her hairstyle approximately 150 times throughout her life. But instead of impulsively tampering with your look, consider ways to care for your hair the way it is. An unsightly home haircut or dye job could have a negative effect on your emotions.
Use a salon-quality shampoo and conditioner daily, plus a deep conditioner several days a week. Conceal gray hairs with a matte eye shadow, a root concealer, gel, or paste. Hairstylists stress that you should not trim your own bangs as you are unlikely to achieve a straight line without the right scissors. Don’t use hair coloring from the drug store since it won’t come out looking like the shade featured on the box. If you damage your hair with box color, you may need expensive treatments at the salon once the pandemic is over. Get good nutrition and be sure to drink enough water, which promotes hair, nail, and skin health.
6. Approach Healthcare Safely
You should postpone annual physicals, dental cleanings, and other health appointments that aren’t essential. If you need care now, schedule an appointment via telemedicine, which allows you to consult a medical professional through video. The American Dental Association advises patients to brush twice daily. Maintaining health is important, and telemedicine can help you obtain medical care when you need it. You should still contact your doctor if you have a pressing health issue. If you suspect you have COVID-19, call your physician’s office or your hospital to find out if they have protocols for you to follow so that you don’t risk infecting others.
7. Get Adequate Sleep
Retire to your bedroom and wake up at the same time every day. Maintaining a regular schedule is important to sleep cycles, even if you’re remaining at home. Yoga and meditation can help relax your mind and body before bed. It might also help if you make your bedroom a tech-free space. Make sure to watch your alcohol and caffeine consumption during this time; although some people might use these substances to cope, they can have drastic effects on your sleep schedule and on your mood overall.
In these times, you’ll need to get creative when it comes to caring for your physical and mental health. It’s more important than ever to take care of yourself so that you can meet the challenges of tomorrow.