COVID-19 affects everybody. It is important to keep your body and mind healthy amid the coronavirus pandemic to reduce the risk of infection and to better protect your family.
Strict social distancing measures and the loss of work have negatively affected many people in the U.S. and across the world. The uncertainty during the pandemic may cause stress and anxiety, especially among people in heavily affected areas.
But there are simple ways that could help maintain mental and physical health. Health experts from Massachusetts General Hospital Healthy Lifestyle Program shared how they manage stress and fear amid the spread of COVID-19.
Acknowledge Your Losses
People should take time to listen to what their bodies and minds need. It starts by acknowledging lost opportunities to socialize, meet close friends, attend special events, interact with neighbors and family or worship.
Knowing your losses may help you understand the current state of life.
“And allow yourself to physically, mentally, emotionally check out on a regular basis,” Dr. Ben Crocker, medical director of a large primary care practice and a healthy lifestyle advocate, said in an article posted on Harvard Health Blog. “Intentionally create ‘shutdown’ time in your schedule. This can be healthy time alone, for meditation and quietude.”
Crocker suggested that positive thinking should come after looking at your losses during the coronavirus pandemic. It is important to not let yourself feel high levels of stress.
Focus on the good things around you. As you stay at home, appreciate the good health and presence of your family or even when you cuddle with your pets.
“Practicing gratitude for what we still have — our health, our families, our homes, food, whatever it may be — rather than rehearsing the daily ‘loss’ of life and routine as we know it, is an important health practice,” Crocker said.
Knowing that there are people supporting you could help reduce stress even if they are far from your place. Utilize the internet to connect to your family and close friends.
Gather digitally through video calls and hold daily meetings. Virtual dinner parties are a good option, according to Dr. Helen Delichatsios, an expert in nutrition. She said her family hosts “FaceTime Dinners, Zoom Dinners or Skype Dinners” to regularly connect with friends and families.
Stay Physically Active
People should use their extra time to do some exercise at home or walk outside while practicing social distancing. Set your SMART goals, which are “specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timed,” according to Dr. Amy Wheeler, an expert in obesity medicine.
These daily goals involve only small steps that are easy to achieve. Wheeler said she commonly encourages herself to take a 20-minute walk, get out of her room and appreciate nature, all while following social distancing recommendations.
Follow Healthy Diet
Delichatsios said people should prioritize nutrition and healthy eating during the COVID-19 pandemic. A good diet is known for supporting the immune system, which helps the body avoid infection and recover faster from a disease.
“We’re all eating at home more,” Dr. Anne Thorndike, who works at a cardiometabolic center, said. “This is a great time to explore new recipes you’ve been meaning to try. Be creative with what you have stocked in the house. Plan your grocery list so you have the basics on hand for healthy meals. Frozen vegetables and fruits are a great option when you can’t buy fresh produce on a regular basis.”
Get Enough Sleep
As you stay physically active and eat healthy foods during the day, it is important to get proper rest at night. Having enough sleep could help boost the immune system and help the body function properly in the coming day.