Top 10 Ways to Stay Healthy, for You and Your Patients
Dr. Jeff Getbehead
If you’ve never heard of the “Freshman 15”, it refers to gaining weight (15 lbs.) during one’s freshman year of college due to bad habits of eating, drinking, sleeping, partying, and well…almost everything. These last few weeks have brought about the “Quarantine 15” for many of us. If we are all going to have a responsibility to be smart and respectful of others during this time of coronavirus with social distancing, we also should have the same respect for keeping our own selves healthy. Here’s a list of 10 tips you can use to keep your body AND mind healthy and happy so that we can return to life as we used to know it sooner than later:
1. Follow a schedule. With so many of us having work and school schedules thrown out the window, it becomes too easy to stay up at night, sleep in late, and eat off of our regular times. Our bodies have a circadian rhythm they need to follow and when we change these patterns, it can affect our energy levels, weight, mood, and even ability to think.
2. Stock up on healthy foods. I get asked A LOT about food and diet advice. One of my best pieces of advice with food is not to starve yourself of “bad foods” but to instead add more healthy foods. If you buy more fresh veggies and fruits and non-processed foods, naturally you will see these more often around the house and eat them when you’re bored. I could tell you not to eat out of boredom, but let’s face it-we all do it when we’re cooped up at home. So embrace it for the time being, but be smart about it.
3. Avoid tech neck. Tech neck refers to the tightness and discomfort we get in our necks and upper backs and shoulders from looking down at phones and computers WAY too much. Especially now-with all the working from home and Zoom calls-it’s super important to stretch in between meetings and calls and computer time.
4. Start, or keep your workouts. If you don’t workout, now is a perfect time to start something new. There are TONS of online videos that have been put out over the last few weeks to do every imaginable workout from home. If you already have a workout lifestyle, modify if needed, but keep it up. I’m part of a free, local group called F3 that has modified our workouts to respect social distancing, but still maintains workouts to keep our bodies strong and healthy.
5. Stay connected. Mental health is just as important as physical health during this time. If you’ve ever read the book or seen the movie, Into the Wild, you know that no man is an island and we all need connection to one another to stay sane. It can be phone calls to family, daily emails to friends, or a text chain with co-workers, but find some way to keep connections to the people you enjoy communicating with socially so that the isolation of quarantine doesn’t leave you dead from starvation in an abandoned bus in Alaska (book/movie reference).
6. Stay hydrated. Do you know of the KISS principle? Keep it Simple Stupid! I follow this principle with most things I do in my life. This one applies here. You’d be amazed how much simply drinking plenty of water while you’re at home can help your overall health. Here are some of the things staying hydrated helps with: energy levels, regular digestion, muscle cramps and pains, skin health (extremely important to fight off germs), sleeping, and even brain performance. It doesn’t get any easier than turning on your faucet, filling that glass, and then slugging it down.
7. Avoid/limit alcohol and soda. You know how I said earlier I refuse to give advice to not eat out of boredom because I know that’s not reality right now? Well here we go with the alcohol/soda advice: I could tell you that alcohol is a toxin to our bodies so don’t drink it. And I could tell you that soda has so much sugar in it that creates inflammation so don’t drink it. And I could tell you they both dehydrate our bodies so don’t drink them. And I could tell you if you drink them before bed you’re adding 100-200 calories (per drink) that your body will store as fat so don’t drink them. But I won’t…
8. Avoid watching news all day. This isn’t a political statement-this is a mental health piece of advice. By their nature, news channels and shows need to gather our attention, and what gets more attention-positive information or negative information? Negative! I strongly encourage people to stay informed, but if you glue yourself to news all day, not only are you reinforcing tech neck, but you’re undoubtedly going to be exposed to an unhealthy dose of negative information.
9. Cook healthy meals in bulk. This knocks out several different problems in one. When you decide to make healthy snacks or meals, don’t just make enough for one meal-make enough for 3 or 4. You can freeze most things if you won’t eat it all in the next few days, and then you always have a quick healthy snack or meal to eat. If you do this over several days, you don’t have to prepare food for each meal-you can wind up recycling the meals from previous days. Not to mention this method saves a TON of money!
10. Don’t ignore body signals. These times aren’t normal, and your body probably knows it. If you have tooth pain that isn’t going away, find a dentist that is seeing patients on an emergency basis. If you aren’t sleeping, try some of these tips, but don’t put it off as no big deal. If you’re seriously feeling depressed to the point that it’s affecting your life, reach out to someone for some guidance. If you’re gaining weight, get honest and make an effort to avoid the quarantine 15!
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