To Get Through the Pandemic, Make Health a Priority
By Carey Shore, MS, RD, LD
Wellness Coach and Registered Dietitian
Methodist Health System
As COVID-19 affects every aspect of our lives, it’s more important than ever to focus on enhancing our physical and mental health. Staying well not only improves your immunity but also keeps you mentally sound during times of uncertainty and stress. Like now.
In honor of Employee Health and Fitness Month, I encourage you to ask yourself what you can do to stay healthy during this pandemic. The following are the essential ingredients you need to optimize your health.
Step one: move.
It takes both informal and formal movement to keep our bodies strong and ward off potential weight gain. Informal movements are those activities of daily living like grocery shopping, walking at work, standing at your desk, and folding laundry. By maximizing these movements, you can add to your overall caloric expenditure. Formal movements are activities such as walking, running, cycling, or taking a fitness class. I recommend that you participate in formal movements on as many days of the week as you can.
We are what we eat.
Many of us are turning to comfort foods, and that’s only natural, so be kind to yourself. But try not to overdo it. Focus on making healthy choices while still giving yourself permission to enjoy the foods you love using portion control. Eating mindfully will help you ambush a craving, and it will help you make the distinction between true hunger versus a craving. Plan your meals and snacks, focusing on whole, healthy foods for optimal nutrition. The odd comfort meal or snack is fine, but work on making the healthy choice a priority. For example, if you really feel like snacking on potato chips, eat a handful of nuts first and then portion out a bowl of chips. You might not be hungry enough to eat the entire bowl.
Sleep like you mean it.
A healthy sleep routine is so important! While many of us have experienced a change in our daily routines, keeping a sleep schedule will help you get the right quantity and quality of sleep. Turn off all electronics, save the bedroom for sleeping and resting, and create a soothing routine that relaxes you, especially if you have trouble falling asleep. Meditation, a hot bath, or a book could help you relax into a deep slumber.
Stress: you can manage it.
Everyone manages stress in their own way. Some of us like to meditate, and others like to journal. It’s critical that you find a stress management technique that works for you. When you’ve figured out what that technique looks like, practice it as often as you can. Gratitude practices, coloring, exercising, laughing, and listening to music are all great activities for relieving stress. Take a few moments daily to engage in these practices, and make them a priority. There’s no time like the present, so start now.
He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.
© Methodist Health System