When life is going well, it’s way easier to be healthy.
But when life is chaotic (COVID-19 anyone?) and toilet paper is rationed, we grab a handful of Doritos, turn on Netflix, and wash our woes down with a Coke.
And this isn’t good for our well-being, nor does it allow us to be strong in the face of stress. We need balance, moderation, and variety in our health at this time to be better equipped to battle.
Thankfully, there are simple things that we can do to keep ourselves healthier during this quarantine period. They include drinking water, eating right, moving your body, and breathing properly. So put down those chips and read on…
WHAT WE DRINK
Did you know that a 2% deficit in water affects our mental and physical well-being?
It’s true. We can live weeks without food, but no more than 10-days without water. Our body is 60% water, with our brains comprised of 76% water and our lungs at 90%. It is crucial for our health. Many critical body processes cannot occur without water, like digestion, circulation, and excretion, and other essentials like cognitive functions and the regulation of our moods.
This means we have to drink water. Unfortunately, the average American only drinks 1.5 cups a day. This-is-not-good.
Daily water formula: body weight in pounds /2= ounces of water required
The formula to calculate the amount of water to drink each day is your body weight divided by two in ounces. For example, a 180-pound person needs 90 ounces of water.
Drink even more if you break a sweat. Don’t include pop (fine call it soda) or coffee into this water count.
Additional tips include:
Pour yourself a jug of water in the AM and drink it throughout the day
Ideally, consume water every 15-20 minutes
Drink a glass of before eating each morning
Drink water 30-minutes before every meal.
WHAT WE EAT
It’s normal for us to crave high-fat and high-sugar foods when under pressure. But when this happens, our diets become strained and this leads to a poor reaction to stress. Meaning we’re more likely to respond with irritability and anxiousness to challenges.
Now in college, it was kinda fun to gain 15 pounds as a freshman, but I imagine that it won’t be so fun to gain the Corona 15.
When under stress, our bodies use up our nutritional resources and we need additional vitamins and protein. In particular, more vitamin B and C and calcium are required. Remembering that vitamin C helps us battle stress and vitamin B helps you fight the effects of stress.
This all points to the fact that we need to eat more foods that are whole, this means more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Think of eating foods that expire within days as compared to weeks or months. Throw away the processed junk as you’ll just feel worse after eating it. Other tips include:
Load up on your veggies first (after drinking that water) and you’ll have less room for the other junk
Don’t eat out of the bag like a horse at a trough. Pull out a portion and put in in a bowl/plate. If you want to go back for more, you’ll have to get up and scoop out some more
If you have a hard time getting enough vegetables in, make a smoothie and throw in spinach and kale
Create a hard stopping time for eating/snacking. For me, I don’t eat after 7 pm.
HOW WE MOVE
Exercising creates a buffer between our fears and worries. It is a natural outlet for our bodies when under stress.
Exercise is both a physical and mental release as it relaxes tired and tense muscles. ALso, our minds become calmer and clearer. Movements improve our ability to think, executive functions, and time management.
All of this shows that we need to move each day as a means of dealing with extra stress. Aim for 30 minutes of activity. This can include walking and stretching. But don’t discount a short 5-minute walk as it has benefits too.
For me, I shoot for three days of strength, two days of yoga/stretching, and some type of cardio each day (thankfully that puppy of mine keeps me moving with this).
Here’s a few free (woot woot) on-demand classes for you to get your sweat on:
Peloton App (offers first 90-days free promo) Note that you don’t have to have a Peloton bike though as it includes yoga, meditation, stretching, and bodyweight classes.
HOW WE BREATH
Question: Does your belly go in or out as you inhale?
Answer: The belly button should out as you breath in and pulls towards your spine as you exhale.
Don’t worry if you got this wrong as 80% of us breath incorrectly.
Proper breathing habits are an antidote to stress. The way we breathe reflects our state of tension and relaxation. When stressed, our breath becomes short and choppy. If our bodies don’t have insufficient fresh air, the blood is not properly purified and oxygenated. This contributes to anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
Just like water, your breath is a vital piece of your well-being. You can boost your health by breathing in the right manner with some practice.
Here’s a breathing exercise to add into your routine:
Inhale through your nose for a count of four (remember belly goes away)
Hold your breath for a count of six
Exhale as you open your mouth for a count of eight
Complete this breathing cycle for four rounds at least once a day.
If you want an app for more breath work and for practicing the super important mindfulness, check out Headspace. They have free guided lessons and are also offering American healthcare workers free access to through the end of this year. You just need your NPI and email to claim the offer on their site.
With enough water, breath, movement, and the right foods, we will make it through this Coronavirus pandemic with our well-being intact.