Establish a Healthy Quarantine Routine
Many of us work really hard to encourage and create healthy habits for ourselves and our families, and it’s not always easy to maintain them even in the best of times. Gym closures, food shortages, home schooling and social distancing measures have made things even more challenging, but continuing a healthy lifestyle may be more important now than ever.
That’s because one of the main benefits of eating well, exercising regularly and mindfully managing stress is a stronger immune system, so continuing to focus on these things is key to decreasing the odds of contracting Coronavirus or reducing its impact if you do.
Food as Medicine
The memes abound about the weight we’ll gain during quarantine or how we need to be socially distanced from the refrigerator, and most are funny because of their potential to be true. It’s tempting during harried grocery store runs to load up on the junk and processed foods we typically avoid because we feel they might make up for some of the other things we’re missing out on, or we head to the pantry or fridge just because we have nothing else to do. But empty calories and low-nutrient foods not only leave you craving more of the same, they impair your body’s immune response and inhibit its ability to make antibodies.
Instead, enhance your usual balanced diet with a higher intake of specific immune-boosting nutrients to actually support immune system function and reduce your risk of infection.
Powerful nutrients include minerals like zinc, selenium, and iron and the vitamins A, B (6, 12, & 9,) C, D, and E. Most of these immune boosters can be naturally found in the nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and fiber of a normal healthy diet. Fill your plate with colorful whole foods like broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, red bell peppers, and sweet potatoes alongside lean proteins flavored with inflammation fighting spices like turmeric, garlic and black pepper. Add flavor punch and crunch with almonds, walnuts and other healthy fats like avocados or olive oil.
If you have a previously identified nutritional deficiency or are not able to get some of your favorite foods due to shortages, quality, bioavailable supplements can fill the void.
And don’t forget how necessary proper hydration is. Consuming coconut or other flavored waters, inflammation-fighting teas like green or turmeric, or plain ole fashioned H2O not only aids in immune system function, it can stave off junk food cravings and mitigate the effects of sugar and alcohol consumption.
There are a variety of amazing options to continue exercising during this time, which is great because regular movement is important for both physical and mental health. Outdoor cycling, hiking and other calorie burning is highly encouraged because fresh air and sunshine are so beneficial. Remember to maintain the recommended social distance from those with whom you don’t live. If it’s raining, or you just want to mix it up, log on to one of the many livestream workouts being offered by shutdown gyms and fitness studios. Some are even available to non members for free or reduced fees. YouTube continues to feature workouts from yoga to HIIT.
Create a Routine
Whether you’re working remotely for the first time or attempting to home school the kids, it’s important to create some sort of routine to encourage a productive mindset. Try to set regular sleep/wake times, even if both are a little later than normal, get dressed and head to a dedicated area for work and study. Remember to move regularly to get the wiggles out, eat meals away from your computer or work station to avoid mindlessly consuming extra calories, and shut it down at a reasonable time. Working from home doesn’t mean you’re always “on call.”
These are stressful times, so try not to dwell on things you can’t control. Instead focus on things you’ve always said you’d do if you had more time — getting healthy, having long calls or FaceTimes with friends, board games, puzzles or other activities with family, journaling or meditation. Try an online cooking class or personal development webinar, many of which are free right now.
And turn off the news sometimes. Staying informed is important, but a constant barrage of virus-related case counts, deaths and shortages encourages increased feelings of anxiety and hopelessness. While this is an unusual and uncertain time in our history and lives, it is temporary. Focus on being your best healthy self when the stay-home ban is lifted.