When will the Covid-19 pandemic end? This perplexing question dominated 2020, only to be back again this year, with the second wave deadlier than the first. Although the daily cases are slowly starting to fall, it is nonetheless important to focus on our health and keep our immunity in top form.
With the lockdown and social distancing norms still in effect in most parts of India, what many have not considered is that staying confined at home for long can pose major challenges too. As our physical movement remains largely constrained within the boundaries of our homes, the chances of developing a sedentary lifestyle are high. Coupled with the pandemic stress, people are at a higher risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, high cholesterol, depression and anxiety among others.
As we navigate through these difficult times, our physical and mental health should be a top priority. This will not only benefit us in the long-term but will also help our immune system keep the virus at bay and fight it if we become infected. Here are a few simple ways to stay fit and healthy while confined at home.
Follow an exercise routine
When you can’t go outdoors for a prolonged period, you can easily become lethargic and demotivated to stay physically active. But the more active you are, the less likely you will fall ill. Exercising boosts your immunity by increasing blood and oxygen supply to all parts of the body, making it stronger to handle pathogens and ward off illnesses. Exercising also releases endorphins or happy hormones that make you feel calm and relaxed—something we all desperately need. When choosing an exercise routine, take into account any ongoing health concerns, time factors, and your energy and stress levels. Set reasonable goals for yourself by doing activities you enjoy. Try simple workouts such as yoga, aerobics, jump rope and stretching. But make sure you are consistent in your efforts.
Get adequate sleep
Lockdowns and social distancing, widespread layoffs and furloughs, and concerns about our health have combined to make our lives distressing. It’s no wonder that many people are struggling to sleep well at night. Your lack of sleep can affect your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness. By incorporating relaxation techniques like meditation and breathing exercises into your bedtime routine, you will be able to relax and sleep better. Also, put your electronic devices away an hour before bed, read a book, take a warm bath and gently stretch your body to aid your sleep.
Eat nutritious food
Good nutrition is crucial for your health, particularly in times when your immune system needs to be prepared to fight the virus. A nutritious and healthy diet can also reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity. Make sure you eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and reduced-fat dairy products. Also, several studies have shown that fermented foods like kefir, tempeh, kimchi, almonds and yoghurt can boost your mood, reduce inflammation and improve cognitive brain function.
Proper hydration is crucial for good health and strong immunity. Ideally, you should aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water every day. Water transports nutrients and oxygen to your body cells, regulates your body temperature, and removes harmful bacteria and toxins from the body. However, staying hydrated shouldn’t be an excuse to indulge in sugary and aerated drinks. Instead, you can opt for fresh fruit juices, lemon water or green tea as healthy supplements to your daily water intake.
Take time to relax
Be it from news channels, social media platforms or even your friends and colleagues—there is an unending stream of information surrounding the pandemic coming your way. If left unregulated, it can get overwhelming and adversely affect your mental health, causing you stress and anxiety. Therefore, you need to engage in calming activities like meditation, gardening, cooking, reading or listening to your favourite music. Take some time out every day to do something that helps you unwind and clear your mental clutter. In addition to relieving stress, deep relaxation can strengthen the immune system by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Keep your surroundings clean
Regular cleaning and decluttering your living space is an important part of keeping bacteria and viruses at bay so you can stay healthy. The Covid-19 virus can survive on some surfaces in your home for days. Remember to wipe down high-touch objects like doorknobs, railings and faucets every day, in addition to regular household upkeep. Keeping your house clean can also remove dust, pet dander, mold and other allergens to help you and your family breathe easier. Also, decluttering is a great way to reduce stress.
Connect with friends and family
Human connection bolsters your mental health, even if it is not face-to-face. By connecting with your friends and family through texts, voice calls and video calls, you can instantly ease symptoms of stress and anxiety. Doing so can help boost your mood, relieve stress and provide emotional support in these troubled times. Therefore, staying connected—even virtually—can enhance your wellbeing and sustain you for the journey ahead.