By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder

5 Proactive Tips For Combating Isolation While We Fight COVID-19

 

It’s been quite a week. And, of course, the main topic of discussion has been the novel coronavirus. This topic will undoubtedly be top of mind  for at least the next month.

People are scared, confused and overwhelmed with the wealth of information coming from the news and social media. If you need a break, take one. 

Across the United States, people are being ordered or encouraged to stay in their homes and avoid crowds as much as possible in an attempt to slow the spreading of the virus. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t take the time to get outside and get some fresh air and exercise (just maintain distance, at least six feet from other people). During times such as this one, I can’t stress enough how important it is to be proactive about our physical and mental health. 

We may not have a lot of control when it comes to controlling the coronavirus, other than washing our hands and abiding by other guidelines such as avoiding crowds, but we do have a lot of control over both our physical and mental health.

I really want to focus on the latter for a moment -our mental health - because this is particularly important to protect during times of stress.

How can we handle social isolation?

One thing that really worries me are people who live alone now and who may also have mental health issues and substance abuse issues. 

Furthermore, research has shown that social isolation has been connected to depression, poor sleep quality, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function and impaired immunity (and we need good immunity to fight this new coronavirus!).

"Our research really shows that the magnitude of risk presented by social isolation is very similar in magnitude to that of obesity, smoking, lack of access to care and physical inactivity," said Dr. Kassandra Alcaraz, a public health researcher who led a study on social isolation, referenced in this report

So now, more than ever, it’s especially important that we practice self-care through this time of isolation and uncertainty. 

Here are a few proactive steps you can take that may help with both your immunity and sanity:

  • Watch the booze.

The general potential health consequences of drinking alcohol include promoting inflammation throughout the body and depleting the body of essential vitamins and minerals, including zinc, vitamin C, magnesium, iron and more. This is pretty much a guaranteed way to wreak havoc on your immune system. Studies have also shown that excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to anxiety, depression and poor sleep. To learn about how much booze is too much, click here.

  • Get moving.

Just one hour of exercise a week may help keep depression away. Gyms across the country may be closed, but you can still do workouts at home. Try planking, do some yoga or look up some workout videos online. As mentioned, you can still get outside and workout as long as you practice social distance. Don’t forget the nutrients to fuel your body both before and after your workouts.

  • Get good sleep.

I suppose that one of the silver linings in all of this is that many of us may now finally have the time to catch up on good quality sleep. Working out and watching your intake of alcohol may help you get better sleep. For additional sleep tips, read here.

  • Take care of your mental health.

Many therapists are now providing online therapy services where you can video conference in. It is also important to mitigate the effects of social isolation by checking in with family and friends. Now is the time to facetime instead of just calling or sending a text. You can also take advantage of meditation apps, and please take frequent breaks from the news.

  • Eat healthily.

It’s hard because we may now be especially tempted to eat “comfort foods” such as sweets and other processed food such as potato chips. But remember that eating healthily helps keep you mentally and physically healthy and keeps your immune system working at its best. For grocery shopping tips, click here.

And for more information about the coronavirus, including how you can help protect yourself, read here.

Please feel free to also share how you are coping and staying healthy.

 

Enjoy your healthy life!

 

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

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