COVID-19 (also known as Coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2) has rocked the globe and, throughout the world, people are being told to stay home as much as possible to help flatten the curve and prevent the spread of this serious illness.
Whether your quarantine is self-imposed or government-mandated, it's hard to adjust to staying home all day (especially when you don't know when life will go back to normal). Many people are struggling to cope, and the closures of gyms and fitness studios have been particularly difficult for exercise-enthusiasts.
If you're in this situation right now and aren't sure where to begin when it comes to maintaining your health, keep reading. Listed below are some steps you can take today to stay healthy and feel your best.
Practice Good Hygiene
Proper hygiene goes a long way when it comes to minimizing your exposure to COVID-19 (as well as other illnesses) and preventing the spread of bacteria.
Keep in mind, too, that you don't need to hoard masks and hand sanitizer to practice good hygiene. There are many other simple and effective measures you can take to avoid spreading germs, including the following:
Wash Your Hands
Wash your hands often with soap for at least 20 seconds. Be especially diligent about doing this when you return home from work (if you're still commuting), grocery shopping, visiting the pharmacy, or doing anything else outside of the house.
Clean and Disinfect Regularly
Every day, make it a priority to clean and disinfect the high-touch surfaces in your home. This includes the doorknobs and light switches, as well as countertops, remote controls, keyboards, sinks, and toilets.
Maintain Six Feet of Distance
When you do have to venture outside of your home, make an effort to stay at least six feet away from others. This helps to minimize your risk of infection, as germs can spread up to six feet when a person coughs or sneezes.
Right now, a lot of unscrupulous folk are trying to cash in on people's fears by selling immune-boosting supplements and touting them as being able to protect or even cure them of COVID-19.
There's no need to waste your money on these products. There are certain, science-backed supplements that can benefit you during this time and beyond, though.
This list includes vitamin C, which is an antioxidant known for playing an important role in the body's immune response. Experts believe that a vitamin C deficiency could increase one's risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19 due to impaired immunity. This deficiency could also increase the risk of complications, such as developing pneumonia.
It may also be beneficial to supplement with vitamin D. If you've been ordered to stay inside your house and aren't able to get out much, you'll likely have a hard time getting the vitamin D you need from the sun. In these cases, supplementation can help to support the immune system and improve your mood.
Stick to a Schedule
Perhaps you're working from home right now, or maybe you're not working at all. In either case, when you have to stay home, it's easy to let your sense of structure go out the window.
For the first couple of days, it might feel nice to relax and let your routine slide. If you go too long without a schedule, though, chances are you're going to start feeling stressed out, anxious, or depressed.
Sticking to a routine helps you maintain a sense of normalcy, which is something most of us are craving right now, and allows you to feel more productive. It will also help you ensure you're fitting in important, health-promoting activities (exercising, eating healthy meals, etc.) and aren't spending too much time scrolling on your phone or bingeing Netflix shows.
Workout at Home
You might not be able to workout at your favorite gym or fitness studio right now. That doesn't mean you can't still enjoy the physique-enhancing, mood-boosting, and health-improving benefits of exercise, though.
There are lots of ways to get in an awesome workout from home, even if you have very little equipment (or no equipment at all). Don't underestimate the usefulness of everyday objects in your house. Use a backpack filled with books to add resistance to your squats or grab a couple of soup cans and use them as dumbbells.
Right now, a lot of fitness professionals are also releasing at-home exercise programs designed to be done with bodyweight, resistance bands, and other easy-to-store items like kettlebells. Consider searching for or investing in one of these if you want a structured plan to follow for the next few weeks (or longer).
Stress and boredom eating are serious issues for a lot of people right now. They're home more than they're used to, the pantry is right down the hall from them, and they're visiting it more often than they'd probably like simply because they can.
If this sounds like you, it's especially important that you revisit the third tip on this list and create a schedule for yourself. Include times for meals and snacks in this schedule and do your best to stick to it throughout the day.
When it is time to eat, make sure you're doing so in a mindful way. Don't eat straight out of the bag while scrolling through social media or watching TV. Plate your food, sit down at the table, and eat without distractions.
This might seem strange at first. However, it will help you to feel full, and you'll be able to truly enjoy your food. You'll be less likely to overeat this way as well, and you'll be satisfied until your next meal or snack.
Continue (or Start) Prepping Your Food
If you already had a habit of meal prepping, continue with it even though you're staying home. If you're not a meal prepper, now's a good time to become one.
This will help you avoid mindless snacking since you'll know that you have food prepared in the fridge ready to go. The process of prepping food can be very calming, too, and you might find that you feel less anxious or stressed out if you take some time to prepare healthy meals for yourself and your family.
Even if you don't cook several full meals all at once, having some vegetables chopped up and ready to cook or some eggs hardboiled for easy protein can make a big difference.
Drink Enough Water
There are lots of memes going around right now about how "quarantine rules are airport rules" and you can drink alcohol whenever you want.
Technically, yes, this is true, and there's nothing wrong with having a glass of wine or a cocktail during this stressful time. Make sure you're not skimping on the water while indulging in other beverages, though.
Staying hydrated is essential to our overall health, and it's especially helpful for our immune systems. Aim to drink at least half your weight in ounces of water each day before you have any "fun" beverages.
Manage Your Stress
Right now, this might seem like a Herculean task. It's more important than ever, though, that you take steps to keep your stress in check.
Connect with friends and family on the phone or via video chat to see how they're doing and to get a bit of social time even if you can't be with them in person. Keep a consistent sleep and wake routine so your body gets enough rest (and don't feel bad if you need to sleep a little more now than you did before).
You might want to consider working with a therapist at this time, too. Lots of therapists offer online sessions and can help you work through any anxiety or depression that you're experiencing.
Spend Time Outside (Responsibly)
Depending on the current rules in your location, this might not be possible. If you are still allowed to spend time outdoors, though, take advantage of it.
Try to get outside at least once per day to go for a walk or job or to simply sit in the sun. This will help you get more vitamin D, and you'll also feel refreshed when you spend some time out of the house.
While you're outside, be sure to practice social distancing and maintain six feet of space between yourself and others. Avoid touching things like park benches or playground equipment, too, and wash your hands thoroughly when you go back inside.
Stay Home and Stay Healthy
Gyms and fitness studios might be closed for the foreseeable future, and you might be dealing with a lot of stress and uncertainty. You can still make your health a top priority, though, by following these strategies.
Keep this list of tips in mind and try implementing one (or more) of them today so you can stay focused on your goals, bolster your immune system, and feel your best.