As we all try to navigate COVID-19 and the new reality that we have found ourselves living in, it is more important than ever to take good care of ourselves, both physically and mentally. Stress takes a toll on our immune system, which is the one thing we cannot compromise right now.
Here are a few tips from us here at Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences:
- Maintain a Steady Routine
As tempting as it may be to stay in your pajamas and check your emails from bed, if you’ve done this for more than two consecutive days, then you know how detrimental it actually is to your mental health. During a time like this, it’s more important than ever for us to maintain a consistent routine.
When things are unknown and uncertain, a routine gives us a sense of control over our lives and our environment. Go about your usual daily routine — wake up at the same time, shower and change (even if it’s into Casual Friday clothes), make your morning coffee, and replicate your usual lunch break and evening gym routine at home, as best as you can.
- Stay Connected to Family and Friends
Human beings are inherently social creatures. Which is why social distancing and isolation can be very hard on our psyche.
Fortunately, we live in an era of social media and technological connectedness. From Facetime and Skype to apps like Houseparty and Whatsapp, there is no shortage of ways to video call and chat with friends and family each day.
- Create Space
As much as we need interaction, being confined in close quarters — even with those we love most in the world — is bound to create tension. We are sharing space in an entirely new way — working from home while homeschooling children, for example. Lack of personal space is bound to become an issue, and it’s going to be easier than ever to feel irritated by those we are sharing our space with 24/7.
When you feel yourself start to become irritated, step away. Go to another room, put on a headset, and take a deep breath. One of our favorite techniques is the 4-7-8 breathing method:
- Inhale for 4 seconds
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds
- Exhale for 8 seconds
This 19 second pause helps you re-set so that you can proceed with a new perspective.
- Eat Healthy
The combination of being locked up at home, along with the uncertainty of what’s to come, can make it easy to overeat out of stress and boredom.
One of the best benefits of cooking at home is that you know exactly what you’re putting into your meals, and can thus easily cut back on the added sodium and preservatives that often come with eating out. Choose immune-system-boosting foods such as citrus fruits, drink plenty of water, and avoid the temptation to raid the pantry by filling up on protein & fiber-rich foods that keep you satiated. A quick scroll through our Instagram feed will show you some of our top recommendations for foods that fit these categories.
- Get Moving
Now’s a great time to go for a run or a bike ride (just remember to keep that 6-foot distance from anyone else who is out doing the same). While it’s great if you’re someone who has a home bike trainer like Peleton, there are a slew of fitness and yoga classes that you can follow along on YouTube right now. (Check out the YouTube channel of Swedish Institute graduate Amanda Kerpius who was just featured in the New York Times on March 20, 2020 as one of the many health & wellness professionals moving their classes online to share their services through digital platforms during this time of social distancing).
At the end of the day though, remember that your own body weight is all you really need to create a 20-minute routine of sit ups, push-ups, jumping jacks and squats. Just scroll through our Instagram feed and you’ll find tons of at-home yoga and fitness routines from our Advanced Personal Training and Yoga Teacher Training instructors here at Swedish Institute.
Even in the best of times, many of us experience difficulty with sleep. Enter a global pandemic, and you can see where this is going.
The Catch-22 though, is that sleep is one of the most vital components to maintaining a healthy immune system. And a healthy immune system is precisely what each of us needs in order to ward off this novel virus.
Yoga, meditation, massage therapy – all are excellent ways to help you fall into the restorative stage of sleep, which is when tissue repair and cell turnover begin. Also try to avoid caffeine past 1pm, set your room temperature to 65, and put down your cell phone an hour before bedtime (the blue light emanating from device screens affects your body’s biological clock).
“The positive and intent contact of a qualified massage therapist can ease the dysfunction in your muscles caused by high stress, which in turn helps your immune system function at its best,” explains Ericka Clinton, Dean of Massage Therapy at Swedish Institute. During this time of social distancing, when getting to your massage therapist is not an option, we will be bringing you a series of self-massage tips that you can do yourself at home.
Stay tuned for these valuable tips, straight from our licensed massage therapy instructors here at Swedish Institute.
- Limit Your Daily Exposure to the News
It is essential to the collective well-being of humanity right now that each and every single one of us stays informed and follows the exact guidelines from authorities, but it’s just as important to our mental health to take breaks from the news so that we are not living in a constant state of fear and panic. Take a pause and switch the channel to a comedy. Laughter is more important than ever right now.
We hope you are all staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented and challenging times. We are all in this together, and we will all get through this together.