With the media exploding about the outbreak of COVID-19 people are working from home, gyms are closed, we are moving indoors and our routines are disrupted. We all know how long it takes to build a good weekday routine, so it’s hard right now to deal with a new reality on top of the added stress of worrying about staying healthy. Taking care of ourselves should be of the utmost importance and that expands to many facets of health but I wanted to touch on a few of the big ones.
Mental health: Coping with Stress and Anxiety
The world we live in feels like it has been flipped upside down. There are many reasons to feel stress and anxiety right now; and it’s okay to feel those things, natural even.
Things we may be stressed about right now:
- Job security
- Health and wellness of a loved one
- Financial health
- Isolation from friends and family
- Trips put on hold or canceled
- Goals put on the back burner
- Medical care and procedures postponed
Fear and anxiety around COVID-19 are no doubt at the forefront of many Americans' minds. Finding ways to cope and manage that stress can make you, a household, a community, even the world, stronger.
Here are some suggestions for ways you can manage stress, anxiety, and fear:
- Try not to be a social and news media sponge. Decrease screen time and take breaks from news coverage. A constant stream of information regarding the disease can be fear-inducing and heavy on one's conscience by the end of the day.
- Take care of your body:
- Take the extra time to make nutritious food
- Get plenty of sleep, 7-8 hours!
- Move your body! Try to make time to move your body for at least 20-30 mins/day
- Unwind and decompress: make time for new activities or old activities that you enjoy. For me, it’s baking, walking my dog, and reading. For you? Puzzles, knitting, reading, gardening?
- Talk to someone: reach out to your friends and family when you are feeling stressed so that you have an outlet. It’s likely they want to talk to someone too.
- Meditation and journaling: there are many benefits of meditation including the potential to improve health problems related to chronic pain, mood disorders, and even help to promote healthy habits. There are many phone apps available for guided meditation. Journaling and writing down your thoughts and emotions can be quite cathartic. Writing down things that you are grateful for even if it's just one thing can be a great way to start or cap off your day.
It is no secret that physical activity can benefit every system of the human body. With the increase of time at home and gyms closed it may feel more difficult to find the means to movel, but there are many ways to move your body and take a step towards improving your overall wellbeing.
Recommendations for physical activity from the CDC:
- Children and adolescents (6-17 years): 60 mins a day of moderate-vigorous activity
- Adults (18-64 years): 150 mins a week of moderate exercise which breaks down to at least 30 mins, 5 days a week or about 20 mins a day for 7 days. This can even include brisk walking. 2 days a week should be dedicated to strength training. See our exercise videos for ideas!
- Older adults: 150 mins a week, 2 days for strength and balance training. Look for strength and balance training videos on our Facebook page.
Resources for Exercise
- The great outdoors! Right now it is acceptable to go for a walk or jog in your neighborhood. But take care to maintain 6 feet of physical distancing, touch as little as possible, avoid touching your face, wear a mask if you wish.
- Our Facebook page will be updated each week with activities that can be done at home with very little equipment. Peak Sports and Spine
- Set a new goal for yourself! Whether it is to walk 2 miles, do 5 push-ups, hold a plank for one minute, do a handstand, run 1-3 mile continuously there are so many options. Pick one and work at it. Setting goals is important for me to find the motivation to keep moving.
- Many companies are offering extended free trial periods
- Yoga Buddhi Co fitness apps including Downdog Yoga, Yoga for Beginners, HIIT, Barre, and 7 Minute Workouts are all free right now until May 1st. With extended dates for healthcare workers and teachers.
- Peloton Digital has a free trial lasting three months (rather than 7 days) and includes yoga for all levels, meditation, strength training, outdoor running, HIIT and of course bike and treadmill workouts. You don’t need the Peloton branded bike or treadmill for these workouts.
- Nike Training Club premium membership is free until further notice due to COVID-19. Their standard membership also offers a lot of content for people of all skill levels.
- Orangetheory Fitness is offering Home workouts online via YouTube. They use objects that you may have at home to substitute for weights like water bottles and suitcases.
During this time it is important to maintain a healthy sleep schedule to manage stress and improve wellness. This includes waking up and going to bed at the same time every day, making it such that you get at least 7-8 hours for the average adult.
Recommended Hours of Sleep by the CDC
- Teen: 8-10 hours
- Adults: 7 hours or more
- 61-64 years: 7-9 hours
- 65+ years: 7-8 hours
Chronic sleep deficiencies are linked to the development of many chronic illness and conditions such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
A study put out by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology noted that there is a 25% increase in the frequency of heart attacks after we “spring forward” for daylight savings time and a 21% decrease when we “fall back.” This just goes to show how sleep can impact vulnerable populations.
Tips for better sleep:
- Put your phone to bed: before going to bed plug in your phone to charge outside of the bedroom so that you resist looking at it first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening
- Decrease screen time 30 mins before bed
- Consider the environment: keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, quiet and dark
- Avoid caffeine 10-12 hours before bedtime
- Avoid large meals just before bedtime
- Avoid alcohol just before bed
- Avoid vigorous exercise 2 hours before bed
- Exercise regularly during the day
- Wake up and go to bed at a consistent time each day, even on weekends
- Get up after 20 mins if you are not able to fall asleep