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How to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential in supporting your physical and mental needs. During the current pandemic, it is important to prioritize what your body needs whether it be rest, exercise or social interaction. In this article, we will be sharing some tips on how to develop a healthy lifestyle through nutrition, routine and exercise. Along with taking precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19, there are many components to leading a healthful lifestyle.

Proper Hygiene & Physical Distancing

With COVID-19 impacting our daily life, it's important to be aware of the proper precautions.

  • Hand washing plays an essential role in minimizing the number of Covid-19 transmissions, and decreasing the chances of contracting the infection. The Centre for Disease Control recommends an individual to hand wash for a minimum of 20 sec with soap and water. Here are the steps to proper hand-washing. You should wash your hands after sneezing, blowing your nose, touching doorknobs, touching public surfaces, using public facilities(i.e: washrooms), before and after preparing food, before meals, after handling garbage, and after handling shared objects. 

  •  Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands as they serve as points of entry for the virus to enter your mucosal membranes and travel down the respiratory tract. To prevent transmission, you should also avoid sharing utensils, drinks, or personal items with others.

  • Social distancing also plays a significant role in reducing the number of Covid-19 transmissions. CDC recommends individuals to wear masks in public spaces and where physical distancing of 6 metres cannot be maintained. Here are more instructions regarding how to properly wear a mask.

Nutrition and Exercise

Eating well-balanced, nutritious meals affects our ability to prevent, fight, and recover from infections therefore strengthening our immune system. Obtaining proper nutrition minimizes one’s likelihood of suffering from health problems. In order to maintain a well-balanced and nutritious diet, the WHO recommends one to eat a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grain, nuts, and some animal sources.

Maintaining a nutritious diet may also mean reducing the quantity of salt ingested daily. Studies have found that, on average, Americans ingest twice the recommended amount of salt, which is <6g, thus resulting in higher blood pressure/hypertension, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Alternatives for adding flavor include herbs and spices. 

Incorporate moderate amounts of fats and oils. Consider replacing refined vegetable oil with olive oil, avocado oil or coconut oil. You can also find healthy fats in avocados, nuts and seeds.

Choose WHERE your sugar intake comes from.

Professionals recommend replacing soft, fizzy drinks with a sweet and fresh fruit instead. Putting cucumber or other fruits and herbs in your water is a healthy way to have flavourful water. Natural sugars in dates, maple syrup and honey can be used as substitutes to refined sugar as a healthier alternative providing more nutrients and minerals.

Stay hydrated-with water. 

Yes, you heard that right-plain old water. In fact, tap water, when available, is the cheapest and healthiest option approved by health professionals. 

Say NO to alcohol.

Avoidance is the best option here. Consuming alcohol will increase your chances of injury and chronic effects such as liver damage, cancer, or mental illness. 

Keep up with exercise.

Not only does physical activity aid in boosting your immune system, it is also beneficial to your cardiovascular health, mental health, and cognitive function. This does not have to be running or going to the gym but rather any activity you enjoy. Examples include: going out for a stroll in the park, out for a bike ride, doing yoga, attending a dance class, following an online training program, or anything else-as long as you stay moving! 

Routine and Self-Awareness

Establish a Routine.

Psychologist Sabrina Read says routines are the building blocks to create a new normal. Setting a routine will establish a sense of normality and certainty. Setting a routine will also increase your productivity and improve your mood. 

Recognizing and reflecting on emotions.

During this time, you may experience anxiety, stress, and/or fear, which is totally normal.

The following methods might give you some reassurance, relief and relaxation.

  1. Connect with others and be KIND to yourself

Yes, there is social distancing, and yes, you may be in isolation, but this doesn’t hinder your connection with others at all.

Practicing gratitude for the beautiful relationships you are involved in, and enjoying this time with those valuable people in your life is very rewarding. Plus, it is a one up for your mental health! 

2. Stay Focused

“Try to focus on what you can do. What is in your control day by day,”  says clinical psychologist Dr. Vivien Lee. Lee also recommends “focusing on activities to keep your mind occupied.”

3. Journaling

Journaling comes with many benefits. It is a way to help you express your emotions, reflect, and perhaps, spark some creativity!

4. Meditation

Meditation comes with a multitude of benefits including but not limited to becoming more self-aware, developing better control over emotions, and establishing skills to manage your stress. 

5. Don't get too caught up in the News

A lack of information may engender stress, anxiety, and fear. But remember to verify that the information is reliable (eg: local government authorities), as rumours may spread. However, it is equally important to take breaks, as overexposure can cause stress, anxiety, and fear as well. Begin a new project, explore different activities, and be involved in activities that interest you. 

6. Reach out for help

If you’re noticing your emotions such as anxiety, stress, and fear disrupting your ability to function normally, reach out for help. Even if you are not experiencing these symptoms, it is good to reach out to family, friends, and mental health supports to share your emotions or thoughts on what you have been/are experiencing. 

7. Self-care

Self-care includes but is not limited to exercising regularly, implementing a routine, having a consistent sleep schedule, and making time for yourself. 

Sleep Routine

Sleep is crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle and manageable work-life balance. It is easy to forget about the importance of sleep as we often prioritize school and extracurriculars over this human need.

Here are some tips on how to maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Some of these steps may be difficult to implement, but if you have a hard time sleeping, these tips may work for you.

  1. Turn off all electronics at a minimum of 30 mins before bed, or even better, 1 hour before bed, allowing you to relax, and go into sleep mode. Engaging with screens before bed will disrupt your sleep-wake cycle. 

  2. Create a pre-sleep routine

  3. Do some activities to unwind, such as reading or taking a bath.

  4. Avoid caffeinated beverages before bed. 

  5. Follow a consistent sleep schedule. 

  6. Establish a comfortable environment.

  7. Ensure that your bedroom is tranquil, dark, and set at a comfortable temperature(60-75℉). 

 There you go! Well-balanced nutritious meals, exercise, routines, healthy sleep habits, and social connections build the foundation for a healthy and productive lifestyle during the pandemic.  

Article Author : Michelle Xiao

Article Editor : Edie Whittington