From the looming threat of contracting the novel Coronavirus to the financial uncertainties caused by the shaking economy, the past few months have been a test of resilience for most of us. In times like these, it’s easy to let yourself be overwhelmed by stress and neglect what matters most: your health.
With the pandemic going on, many people have had to postpone non-urgent health appointments, but that shouldn’t involve sacrificing your whole wellbeing. At a time when stress and fear are high, these strategies will help you take care of your body and stay in the best possible shape.
Good nutrition is non-negotiable
Healthy food is essential all year round, but all the more so during the pandemic, when your body is overwhelmed by stress and needs a strong immune system. Unfortunately, it’s precisely this stress that makes us turn to harmful habits such as skipping meals, overeating, drinking too much, or overindulging in sweets and fast food. Yes, it can be a bit difficult to stick to healthy meal planning when food delivery services are all around you, but, to fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to protect itself, choose these options instead:
- Add more sources of protein into your diet. That includes lean meats, such as chicken and fish, as well as vegetables and seeds (lentils, flaxseed, chickpeas, chia seeds, tofu).
- Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D: salmon, tuna, mushrooms, milk (animal or plant-based), eggs.
- Whole grains, which are an important source of fibres essential to gut health: brown rice, whole-grain pasta, quinoa, and bulgur.
- Healthy fats, which are rich in antioxidants and facilitate vitamin absorption: avocado, nuts, cashews, olives
- Fresh fruits and vegetables. Getting a hold of these can be a bit tricky if you want to limit trips to the supermarket, so a trick you can use is to buy them in larger quantities and freeze them for later consumption.
Don’t neglect your sleep
A good night’s sleep may sound like a bit of a luxury, but resting for at least seven or eight hours every night is essential for your overall health. If you don’t sleep enough, not only will your mood and energy levels be affected, but your body will also become more susceptible to health problems. Research has consistently shown that sleep deprivation increases the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain, and heart disease. Moreover, not getting enough sleep weakens your immunity, making your body vulnerable to bacteria and viruses – which is the last thing you want these days.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, natural remedies such as chamomile and lavender can help you relax and clear your mind. You should also limit your screen time before you go to bed; blue light is detrimental to your circadian rhythms, and news and social media scrolling only feeds your nervousness.
But, even more important than the number of hours of sleep is the consistency of your sleeping schedule. Even if you spend more time at home these days or you have a flexible schedule, try to fall asleep and wake up at approximately the same hour each day.
Stay active as much as possible
Gyms have reopened in Canada, but they still raise a number of safety concerns. If you’re uncomfortable going back to the gym and you’ve found yourself becoming more and more sedentary, it’s time to consider alternative ways of staying in shape. Even if you’re not able to work out exactly the same as before, that doesn’t mean you can’t build a new routine to match the requirements of this tricky period. At-home workouts remain the most convenient options, as well as jogging in your local park, cycling, and trekking.
Being physically active these days is not just a great way to alleviate stress and maintain peace of mind, but also to keep diseases at bay; studies have shown that one hour of daily exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, boosts your immunity, and balances blood sugar and insulin levels.
Mind your mental health
Recent surveys have revealed that the pandemic has caused higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, and even put certain categories of people at higher suicide risk. Factors such as fear, anxiety, and uncertainty, can make anyone experience poor mental health, not just front-line workers, so learning how to manage negative feelings is just as important as exercising and eating healthy food.
Psychologists explain that uncertainty is the biggest driving factor behind stress and anxiety, so the first thing you should do is take practical measures that make your life a little more secure. For example, people who have already invested in life insurance and health insurance are less likely to feel uncertain about their future because they have a safety net. If you’re not insured already, the experts at Life Ant recommend reviewing your options and choosing a plan that suits your current financial situation. Having an emergency fund also helps, because you’d feel less worried about the financial difficulties of losing your job.
Of course, even after taking these measures, you can still feel stressed and overwhelmed, so find time for meditation and mindfulness. Disconnecting from social media and doing more of the activities that make you happy will help you stay sane and find normality in these troubling times. Apart from the support of family and friends, you can also count on therapy; most practitioners have adapted quickly and offer online therapy, so social distancing shouldn’t be a problem.
Don’t sweep recurring symptoms under the rug
To flatten the curve and limit the spread of the Coronavirus, health experts have recommended people to postpone non-urgent appointments and surgeries during the first months of the pandemic. But, with restrictions being lifted, you should consider seeing your doctor if you have a chronic health condition or you’ve been experiencing unusual symptoms. As tempting as it might be to sweep them under the rug and wait a bit longer to make an appointment, that can do more harm than good in the long run.