You’re staying home to do your part to help slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s all in an effort to keep you, your family and others heathy. But your routine has been interrupted and you’re facing stress and uncertainty. Even though you are avoiding germs, our new way of life can make it difficult to keep you and your family healthy.
Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Outpatient and Community Liaison Dietitian Allie Lang, RDN, LDN, explains, “Stress eating becomes a daily activity and your exercise routine is completely interrupted. Gyms and yoga studios are closed, and meal times are all over the place. Working from home can lead to skipping meals with no set lunch time. With all of the social distancing, stressful news stories and hand washing, it’s easy to forego exercise and healthy eating.”
Luckily, Lang has some tips to help you stay healthy while staying home.
Plan basic, healthy meals
Having a plan for your meals can give you a sense of control when everything else seems crazy. Make sure you stick to your normal meal schedule and eat three meals a day. For each meal try to include a fruit or a vegetable, a whole grain or starch and a lean protein. It can be easy to go all day without drinking water when your schedule changes so drastically. Keep a water bottle or glass of water nearby and sip regularly.
Pick one day a week to brave the supermarket. Go prepared with a list based on breakfasts, lunches and dinners you’ll make throughout the week. Don’t forget the veggies! Frozen vegetables can be just as healthy as fresh vegetables and last much longer in the freezer. Canned beans and vegetables are also nutritious and last long on your shelves. Just make sure to rinse these to reduce the sodium. Stock up on fruits like apples, oranges and bananas for snacks. You may not be able to buy your normal preferred brand at the grocery store, but the shelves are stocked enough to get your staples.
Find ways to stay active
At home you can end up sitting most of the day and getting much less steps in than usual. To counteract this, try taking some trips up and down the stairs or taking a walk outside. Find an exercise video you enjoy on YouTube and commit to daily exercise. There are also exercise videos available on most streaming platforms.
Your mental health during this time is just as important as your physical health. This unprecedented situation leaves many of us with a feeling of helplessness that can be extremely distressing. Keep up your social connections with regular phone calls and video chats. Take advantage of more time at home by picking up a new hobby. Try a Zoom meeting with a group of friends. Journaling, meditating and virtual therapy are all ways to process your emotions and manage stress in constructive ways.
There are many aspects of this public health crisis you can’t control. You are already doing your part by social distancing, staying home and washing your hands. It is important to focus on what you can control, like your health and wellbeing. By following these simple tips, you and your family can get through these times in healthy and beneficial ways.
About Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital is a 171-bed non-profit, community teaching hospital located in southwest Boston. Founded in 1900, they offer comprehensive medical, surgical and psychiatric care as well as complete emergency, ambulatory and diagnostic services. For more information, visit www.brighamandwomensfaulkner.org.