Most people have never lived through a pandemic quite like the one we’re experiencing now. Even if you are an essential employee who continues to work outside of the home, it’s recommended that you practice social distancing in every other area of your life. That means postponing your annual checkups and dental appointments, visiting the grocery store or pharmacy as sparingly as possible and staying home, most of the time.
Managing your physical and mental health during a pandemic can seem like a tall order, especially when you find yourself stuck at home, isolated from others or without access to your usual modes of exercise, like the spin bike or your favorite yoga class.
Staying healthy during social distancing is both possible and important, as it will help to keep your immune system working well and help prevent illness. Making sure to get enough sleep each night, eating nutritious foods and moving your body for thirty minutes a day are simple ways to maintain your physical stamina from a distance. Remaining connected to your loved ones and maintaining a clean and tidy living space will help to keep your mind clear and your mental health in check.
Here are 5 simple tips to help you stay healthy during social distancing.
Rest really is best, and getting enough sleep each day is paramount to maintaining your overall health. It can be hard to rest when your schedule is thrown off or if you’re experiencing anxiety. If you’ve been hit by financial hardship or are concerned for the future of your job or the health of aging loved ones, sleep can seem nearly impossible to find. Try to shut down all devices and screens at least two hours before your bedtime each night, and avoid consuming alcohol or caffeinated beverages. Practice listening to calming music, take a warm bath or read a good book just before your bedtime, and aim for 8 hours of continuous sleep each night. If you find you aren’t able to get a full 8 hours in, be willing to take naps as needed.
While your normal exercise routine might be on hold during the current pandemic, you don’t have to give up on exercise in general while stuck at home. Moving your body can be as simple as taking a 30 minute walk or bike ride each day. It can include rolling out a yoga mat and doing simple stretches or turning up music and dancing in your living room. While you will eventually be able to get back to your former gym routine, for now, aim for daily movement in any way you can.
If you find that you’re spending nearly all of your time at home during social distancing, practice keeping a tidy and clean living space to keep your mind clear and your physical space free of germs. A daily cleaning routine can help to get you moving and provide some consistency to your daily schedule. Also, wiping down door knobs, cleaning floors and other high traffic areas in your apartment can help to prevent the spread of germs after you do head outside for a walk or to make that weekly grocery run.
Nutrition is key during times of stress and change, and it’s one of the most important ways you can care for both your mental and physical health. Stock up on frozen vegetables and fruit as an easy way to get nutrients into your diet each day. When you do have access to fresh produce, choose items that have a longer shelf life, or put them to use in stir fry dishes or simple salad recipes. Most importantly, try to eat balanced meals that help to nourish and energize your body during these trying times.
Connection is paramount to mental health, and during a pandemic it can feel more challenging to come by. If lack of social interaction is beginning to weigh you down, schedule a daily video chat with a friend or loved one. Plan to meet a neighbor and walk, as long as you are able to maintain a distance of 6 feet between you and those around you. Plan weekly family gatherings via facetime or zoom. Spend time each week in nature, getting fresh air and sunshine. Pick up the phone and call your trusted friends and confidantes. Most of all, stay in communication as best you can, and do the things that fill you up as often as possible. Your body and mind will thank you.