The disruption caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 may increase stress and anxiety for many people. Norms of daily life have been interrupted and due to stay-at-home orders, many are experiencing a loss of access to jobs, the gym, fewer necessary grocery store items (e.g. paper products and some food items), spotty to no internet, limitations (or lack) of electronic devices, and more. To help cope, here are four tips that may help you get through this new normal a little bit easier.
Exercise: Try to get at least 30-minutes of cardio each day by taking a brisk walk or bike ride outside if the weather (and pollen) permits, doing yoga, or just following a quick circuit routine. Exercise releases endorphins, nature's “feel-good” chemicals. And if Mother Nature cooperates long enough to let you enjoy some exercise outdoors, your body will benefit from sunlight that will help your body produce more vitamin D, which increases the intestinal absorption of calcium. Check out these YouTube Channels to get your exercise routine started: Yoga With Adriene and HASfit. If you prefer to exercise outdoors, “Our indigenous ancestors had wellness right” is a video that shows how a group called Well For Culture is helping Native American and First Nations people reconnect with their ancestral practices to find healing through fitness.
Diet: Maintaining a balanced diet is more important (and challenging) than ever to not only increase immune function, but also for long-term mental and physical health. The quality of the food you eat contributes to your overall health. Lean proteins build up the amnio acid called tyrosine, which prompts the brain to make norepinephrine, dopamine, and epinephrine, and maintains the body’s energy, and also promotes alertness and activity. In addition, whole grains, fresh vegetables, and fruits also help your body maintain good levels of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Moderate the intake of simple carbohydrates (white bread and pasta) and refined sugars, which may give you a temporary high but will later prompt the brain to make the calming neurotransmitter serotonin, which produces a crash. Not everyone, however, has the resources to stock up and make sure their families have the food they need to stay healthy during this pandemic. You can help by donating to The Duke-Durham Fund, Feeding the Carolinas, or to other food banks and organizations that provide needed food and supplies to people in the community.
Meditation: The benefits of meditation have been studied for a number of years and various studies back up claims that the practice helps to preserve ageing in the brain, quiets the mind to reduce worry, improves concentration and attention, can reduce depression and anxiety, and more. Through meditation, you will help your mind to more effectively challenge negative thoughts. Meditation may also help you to practice mindfulness and may help you to focus on positive things during this trying time, especially when coping with the coronavirus's xenophobia problem. New to meditation and mindfulness? Check out this “How to Meditate” guide by Mindful. Calm’s YouTube Channel also has some great videos to help guide your meditation practice or simply ease you into a peaceful state. On the go? Go to their or in your device’s app store.
Sleep: Though no “magic number” exists for the amount of sleep a person needs, in general, most adults require between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. After age 60, sleep patterns change due to age or medications. Children and teens typically need about 9-10 hours of sleep, while babies can sleep up to a whopping 18 hours-a-day. Sleep helps your brain remove toxins and prompts it to form pathways that let you learn and create new memories, while also allowing you to more effectively concentrate and increase your responsiveness to stimuli. Lack of or poor quality sleep increases the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity. Exercise, a healthy diet, and meditation will help you get a good night’s sleep.