They say that every cloud has a silver lining. But with the dark and foreboding raincloud of a global pandemic hanging over us. Well, that silver lining can be pretty hard to see. Especially as the death toll mounts and people fight vociferously over whether the economy should come before public health. Still, even in a time of international fear, confusion and self-isolation there are positives to be mined amidst the tragedy. We’re all thinking a little bit harder about our health. We are all also learning about the effects that our behavior can have on others.
Self Care Matters… but do Diet and Exercise Alone Cover All Our Bases?
Living in an era of unparalleled convenience has made us complacent when it comes to our health. The COVID-19 virus reminds us the bad habits we’ve fallen into. We’re learning how enormously important little things like washing our hands are in keeping us free from viruses. We are discovering that all the hand sanitizer in the world is no substitute for a good old fashioned bar of soap. Seriously, soap destroys the fatty outer layer of viral cells, quite literally tearing them apart. However, we are also learning just how precious our time spent outdoors is. How something as simple as proximity to trees, plants and flowers can be a tonic for our wellbeing.
Many of us are coming to realize just how much we’ve taken our bodies for granted. While under lockdown we’ve started thinking about how much sugary, fatty and salty processed food is damaging us. Without the luxury of visiting the grocery stores several times a week or relying on the vending machine at work, we are falling in love with whole foods again and cooking from scratch. Without having to brave the long and tedious commute every day, many of us have more time to learn new recipes and empower themselves by cooking healthier meals.
Deprived of our gyms we are learning the virtues of working out in the home and garden, realizing that we don’t need expensive equipment. Our bodyweight and a whole heap of determination are all we need to stay in shape.
Diet and exercise are fundamental pillars of our wellbeing. Active bodies which are properly and adequately nourished have a better chance of remaining healthy in these dark times. However, while important, diet and exercise are not the be all and end all. Even those of us who consider ourselves healthy can neglect these aspects of their health and wellbeing…
Managing Mental Health
While we’re on lockdown, safeguarding our mental health is more important than ever. We’ve become so accustomed to living at a super fast pace and coping with a state of perpetual stress that the newly slowed pace of life can be even more problematic for our mental health. Especially given the money and logistical worries that so many are grappling with every day.
Moreover, our current state of lockdown can also result in cabin fever– restlessness and irritability when we’re sharing a relatively small space with our families over a long period of time.
As such, it behoves us all to take some active steps to safeguard our mental health. Not just for ourselves, but for our families. We simply can’t give them the love, care and attention we need if we’re constantly anxious, depressed and grouchy.
Here are some things you might want to consider to safeguard your mental wellbeing;
- Try mindfulness meditation. It only takes a few minutes a day and can work wonders for your stress levels.
- Get some exercise outdoors at least once a day.
- Scale back your use of social media. People are scared, frustrated and angry. Not only does this lead to a lot of vitriolic posts, their sharing of inflammatory new articles doesn’t help.
- Make the time to call or video chat with your friends every day. Seeing a friendly face can be a real boon for your wellbeing… and you never know how much they may need you.
- Ensure everyone in the household has a safe space they can use if they need a little distance.
- Give yourself something to look forward to every day- even if it’s just a hot bath.
- Try and limit your caffeine intake. Try substituting every other coffee with a calming herbal tea.
- Hugs can actually have a powerful healing effect on your mental health. So make sure you get at least one from your spouse and kids every day.
Dental Health and Hygiene
Who knows when we’re next going to be able to see our dentists for a check up. Maybe a quick scale and polish? It’s up to us to protect our teeth and gums. Brushing twice a day is a good start. Nut it’s just one part of an effective dental regimen. You should take the time to floss your teeth every day. Yes, it can be pretty gruesome if you’ve gotten out of the habit. Yet, it’s the best way to remove the tiny food remnants. This is what can cause bacteria to gather between your teeth and cause damage. You should also use a mouthwash to cleanse the parts your toothbrush can’t reach. Incidentally, if your toothbrush head looks like it’s been through the wars. You should replace it as soon as possible… and maybe try brushing less hard.
A more comprehensive dental regimen can save you some bad news the next time you need to visit the dentist.
With our supply chains disrupted, many of us are trying new cleaning, hygiene and food products. But if we start to experience symptoms like skin irritation, digestive discomfort and bloating. Lightheadedness due to low blood pressure and even increased anxiety. We may misdiagnose these as something else without recognizing them for what they are. Symptoms of undiagnosed allergies.
The good news is that it’s easy to and affordable to get a blood test for allergies, and an effective diagnosis can allow you to implement safeguards that can help you to live a happier and more comfortable life. Furthermore, there’s no risk that a blood test will trigger an allergic reaction. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for skin prick testing. An undiagnosed allergy can lead to serious consequences later down the line. If you experience mild to moderate symptoms you should consider getting tested as soon as possible.
While we’re on the subject of reactions to food, all too few of us spare much thought for our digestive health. This is the shame, because your gut is an extremely complex system that works hard on your behalf to keep you healthy.
Inside your gut there’s a whole mini-ecosystem of flora and bacteria that’s so sophisticated, many experts refer to it as the body’s “second brain”. And like the brain, it has a huge influence on your physical and mental health. Good digestive health ensures that you get optimal nutrition from the food you eat. It also ensures proper immune function, healthier looking skin, stable hormone levels and even reduced cancer risk.
The good news is that it’s relatively easy to maintain good digestive health. All you need to do is eat slowly, take small bites, chew thoroughly and make sure you’re eating more plants and less of everything else. You also need to ensure that you’re getting…
It’s odd that we spend so much time thinking about the food we eat, but scarcely spare a thought for how much water we’re drinking. This is a shame as staying hydrated is one of the most important things we can do for our bodies. Our bodies are composed mostly of water (around 60%). If we don’t get any we can’t expect to live longer than 3 or 4 days.
Good hydration affects every single function the body carries out so, it’s important that we drink at least 2-3 liters of water a day. You’ll start to see and feel it helping your body in a number of ways. It keeps vital organs including your skin, your liver and your kidneys healthy and flushes out the toxins our bodies absorb every day. It also aids concentration as well as muscle response during exercise. Water keeps our bodies operating at peak efficiency.
Okay, so this may be easier said than done for a lot of us. In this time of anxiety and confusion most of us may struggle to get the sleep we need. However, sleep is extremely important for your whole body’s health so you owe it to yourself to try. When you aren’t getting enough sleep it can affect numerous aspects of your health and your appearance. From puffy skin and dark circles around your eyes to irritability, low mood, poor concentration and loss of libido sleep deprivation can exacerbate the turmoil that lockdown living can represent for many.
Try reducing the amount of time you spend under artificial light and use natural light in your home where possible. Try to get some time outdoors every day, even if it’s just in your garden. Try taking a bath an hour before bed time to reduce your body temperature and prevent yourself from overheating under the covers. If none of those work, try a natural herbal remedy.
By addressing all of the above, you can ensure that your body and mind are as healthy as you need them to be.
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