Due to the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many Canadians are faced with spending more time at home. While self-isolation is an effective measure for slowing the spread of this new disease and flattening the curve, the unfamiliar routine can be stressful and require some adaptation. To best support your mental and physical health through these changes, it is important to continue leading a healthy lifestyle while staying home.
Whether you are staying home due to social distancing or self-quarantine, here are some simple and effective tips to maintain your physical and mental well-being while staying home.
- Maintain your usual routine
Although the quarantine has affected most of our daily routines, it is important to maintain your habitual schedule as much as possible to avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety. This means you should still wake up, get dressed, eat, and go to bed at the same time as usual. If you are now working from home, it is also recommended to stick to your routine working hours as much as possible. To better focus on your work and get into a productive mindset, it can also be helpful to wear your regular work clothes while you work from home while avoiding pajamas and sweatpants.
- Stay active
Daily physical activity is important for keeping your body and mind healthy. While it may be tempting to spend your free time on the couch catching up on series and movies, it is highly recommended to incorporate some daily activity into your routine. With many free online workout classes available these days, getting some exercise at home has become easier than ever. Moreover, for many types of home workouts, you don’t need any special equipment or skills, and you can even fit them into your breaks while working from home.
- Eat a healthy and varied diet
Health experts recommend eating a nutritious and varied diet while in self-quarantine to boost the immune system and ensure you are getting essential nutrients. A healthy diet includes fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and healthy fats. To practice healthy eating habits while staying at home in quarantine, you can strategically stock your pantry. Some examples of healthy foods with longer shelf lives include frozen vegetables and fruit, whole-grain rice and pasta, canned low-sodium vegetable soups and other non-perishable items such as dried fruit and nuts.
- Practice mindful eating
During times of uncertainty, many people tend to eat more calories as a coping mechanism from stress. While spending a lot of time at home, it may be very tempting to keep reaching for snacks and eating larger meals. To avoid gaining excess weight while staying home, it is important to eat regularly scheduled meals and avoid “mindless snacking.” Some helpful tips to eat healthy while spending a lot of time at home include avoiding eating foods straight out of the box or packaging, and not eating in front of the TV and your computer. You can also maintain portion control by prepping size-snack containers ahead of time.
- Unplug from social media and news
With much of the world currently locking down due to efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, reading the news and scrolling through your social media feeds can be an unnerving experience. The constant updates of the news cycle can be a source of stress, and if you are finding yourself overwhelmed with all the information related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be helpful to take a step back. While it is important to stay updated, constantly checking the news can take a toll on your mental health. Therefore, you can limit your exposure to updates by only checking the news once or twice a day, and only browsing the headlines instead of reading each article in depth.
- Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated throughout the day is important to keep your body and immune system healthy. However, it can be easy to forget to drink enough water and opt for too many caffeinated beverages while working from home. To make sure you are staying properly hydrated, you can keep a large refillable water container at your desk and within your reach. You can also up your fluid intake by drinking a glass of water before every meal. In addition, if you need to add some extra flavour to your water, you can opt for some lemon slices, mint leaves, and frozen berries.
- Get some fresh air
Unless your local public health officials recommend staying inside, it is a good idea to go outside for a brief walk at least once throughout the day. However, it is best to avoid going out in crowded areas or during peak hours. You can also sit on your balcony or in your backyard to get a bit of sun and fresh air. Finally, it is also recommended to open your windows to air out your home several times a day.
- Maintain a regular sleeping schedule
If you are now working from home, it may be very tempting to sleep in every morning and avoid going to bed at the time you normally would. However, this can negatively impact your body’s natural circadian rhythm and your sleep quality. In turn, losing sleep and irregular sleeping patterns can have negative consequences for your mental and physical health. Therefore, health experts recommend sticking to your regular sleep schedule and disconnecting from electronic devices before going to bed to help you sleep better.