I suppose, just like me, you might be keeping tabs on the developments of COVID-19 and its physical, mental, and emotional impact on our society. Last month, our Governor, John Bell Edwards, issued a state-wide stay-at-home order. This is important as it helps the bigger picture in flattening the curve of cases. However, something this unknown has stress, anxiety, fear vamping, while normal routine is completely disrupted. My usual stress outlet of dance class, cycling, and dining out with friends is not necessarily an option right now.
Additionally, I am worrying about my immune system, constantly washing my hands, sanitizing surfaces, and find myself constantly tired amidst this pandemic. I decided to take some control back in my life and implemented these 6 healthy steps towards winning this socially distanced lifestyle!
- Stretch: When I wake up, I do some simple stretches that alleviate tension in my muscles. I’ll repeat this concept at work for a few minutes as well. Reaching for the ceiling, touching your toes, and rolling your neck are some simple examples. Make sure to take deep breaths as well to help clear your mind.
- Eat fruits and vegetables: Eating produce provides your body with vitamins and minerals that assist with energy and boosting your immune system. Often, people cope with stress by eating cookies and chips; however, these foods are not satisfying our nutritional needs or appetite and can cause weight gain, weakened immune systems, and fatigue. Your fruits and vegetables will provide fiber and antioxidants to satisfy your needs and boost your health.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking water is important to maintain our normal body functions. If you struggle with drinking water, try infusing your water with fruit and herbs or using sugar-free flavor packets. Staying hydrated will help to energize your body! Keep a bottle or glass near you to sip on throughout the day.
- Discuss your feelings: Socially distanced does not equal socially disconnected. Call a friend or family member to discuss life, video chat with your nieces or nephew, check in on your grandparents. Most therapists have also adjusted to an online platform! Isolating yourself from communicating entirely could lead to burn out, depression, and other mental health issues. One friend and I even got creative and had a “movie night” together where we video chatted and watched the movie without either of us leaving the house.
- Socially distanced physical activity: Get your body moving! A stay-at-home order does not mean forget physical activity all together. You can still go on a walk (keep 6ft apart), bike in your neighborhood, do some yoga, and dance in your living room! Many fitness instructors have videos or are live streaming their workouts for you. Physical activity lifts your mood and studies have shown that 150 minutes of moderate activity has helped with lowering risk of chronic diseases.
- Get enough sleep: Stress and anxiety can interrupt our sleeping cycle and leave us stressed, immunocompromised, and sleep deprived. If you have difficulty falling asleep, try starting a nighttime routine to help you relax your body and mind. Disconnect from your phone and television. 10 minutes of quiet meditation may help you get a better night’s rest.
With just these 6 steps, I feel more energized, capable, and strong. Whether you are working from home or still need to commute to work, these tips will help you to physically, mentally, and emotionally take on the day. The last advice I have is to give love and kindness to others. Help a local business by ordering take-out for dinner. Tip your service industry workers. Thank the grocery store employees, janitorial staff, truck drivers, hospital employees, first responders, your neighbors, government officials, and everyone. We are only stronger if we are all in this socially distanced united stance. Spread kindness, not viruses!
Healthy wishes to all!
Devin Brittain is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist in the state of Louisiana. Born and raised in California, Devin obtained her Bachelors of Science in Food and Nutritional Sciences with an emphasis in Dietetics and Food Administration from California State University, Fresno. She then moved to Louisiana and completed her Dietetic Internship at Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Devin is currently the Outpatient Dietitian for the Cancer Center at West Jefferson Medical Center where she assists patients and teaches healthy cooking classes. She is serving on the board for the New Orleans Dietetic Association where she strongly advocates for the dietetic profession and the health of her community. In her free time, Devin enjoys attending festivals, reading, developing recipes, dancing, and cheering on the Saints! She is passionate about utilizing her food and nutrition knowledge to benefit others and believes in finding innovative ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle that works for each individual.