The COVID-19 pandemic is worse than we could have imagined. The overcrowded hospitals, lives lost, and physical suffering humankind has endured over this pandemic is monumental. This illness has negatively affected all of us, even those who did not contract the virus. We have witnessed countless lockdowns, the closing of public places and small businesses, forced quarantines, and lost jobs. Our world changed overnight into an unrecognizable socially distanced nightmare. The sedentary lifestyle that humankind fell into created a myriad of problems. The lack of movement in daily life has contributed to obesity and significant weight gain for many people. The virus turned into a severe health pandemic as society neglected its well-being on many levels.
With a more sedentary lifestyle came depression and many people felt useless and bored. Most people were idle and hopeless, with no external motivation to get out of bed or be active. The isolation had people feeling down, looking for any form of escape or distraction to increase feel-good hormones.
With repetitive behavior, habits form. These daily habits create routines. It can be challenging to break free from the holds of instinctual behavior. It takes a lot of willpower and determination to make change happen. How do we get back on track after being conditioned to behave in an unhealthy way?
Now that vaccines have come out and there is hope for the world to return to the way we once knew it, it is the perfect time to get out of our ruts and break bad habits. The immersion back into the outside world has many examining the state of their health. People are looking to reverse some of the negative impacts their choices have had on their mental and physical conditions.
Here are some of the most commonly faced problems the pandemic has given rise to and how we may combat and reverse them as we (hopefully) step back into our freedom.
Unwanted weight gain: How to shed the “COVID-19” pounds
The adverse health effects of inactivity can begin to build up in less than a week. Sedentary lifestyles contribute to anxiety and stress. Inactivity and lack of nutrition can siphon all your strength, sacrificing health and mobility. By making small efforts now, you will obtain an array of benefits that support your entire wellbeing: Self-esteem, energy, health, mental clarity, and sanity. Activity and movement are mood lifters. The body should be moving; too much sleep or laziness only increases feelings of depression. Luckily, with warmer weather on the horizon and lifted lockdowns, the opportunity for physical activity has increased.
Schedule classes or after-dinner walks with a friend or family member (wear a mask, of course) or go for a bike ride and explore spring in bloom. Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated; the key is to get moving any way you can. When you choose an activity that you genuinely enjoy, it does not require much willpower. Whatever activity fills your heart, do that. Use your passion to your advantage. Not only will you benefit from the exercise, but you will also feed your heart and soul with some much-needed good vibes. There are significant mental and physical health benefits to any movement with total effort.
Reduce your calorie intake by filling up with high fiber, water-dense foods such as leafy greens. Choose lean proteins and substitute processed foods with fresh produce. Keep track of your calorie count for the day with an app or journal. Make sure to read the label and check out the ingredients before ingesting anything. Tracking your calories results in being mindful of what you are eating. The slight hesitation of thought before opening your mouth could prevent you from eating junk food or something detrimental to your health.
Challenge yourself to limit sugar! Enlist a friend and go 30 days without sugar. Better yet, hire a life coach for unbiased support.
Limit your alcohol consumption. Alcohol often brings a surplus of calories and unwanted weight gain.
Keep a food journal to record what you are eating and drinking. If you practice writing down everything you consume, you will think twice before ingesting.
Stay hydrated! Being well hydrated inhibits the feeling of hunger and the desire to snack during the day. We often feel full after drinking a big glass of water. Make a pitcher of lemon water to leave in the fridge for a convenient hydration booster.
Loss of income – eating healthy on a budget
With lost jobs or reduced hours, the concerns of eating healthy on a budget arise. How can you make a little go a long way without sacrificing health?
Plan your meals. Use coupons. See what is on sale and which places have what items at a low price. Planning the meals will allow you to remain within a budget. Once you have planned your grocery list, stick to it; no impulse buying or deviating from the plan. The cookies and chips may tempt you, but if they aren’t on the list, practice discipline, and don’t buy them! Limit the waste – don’t throw away food. Only buy fresh produce that you know you will eat in time. Don’t overbuy.
Avoid going to fast food restaurants or ordering in. Cooking at home is cheaper and healthier. It allows you to control exactly what goes into your body. Prepare meals in larger portions and then package the leftovers. These are great when you are too tired to cook (warm-up something from the freezer) or for lunch the next day.
Focus on healthy but cheaper fruits and vegetables. Carrots, cabbage, and bananas are highly nutritious and always very affordable. Look for bags of apples rather than buying individual. Don’t disregard frozen fruits and vegetables either. They last a long time and can stay in the freezer for those moments when you can’t make it to the store.
Consider growing some of your own food this season. Seeds can manifest into a plethora of vegetables right in your very own home or backyard. Zucchini and spinach are very easy to grow and produce in abundance each year and growing them yourself removes the risk of pesticides.
Consider alternative sources of protein. Beans and lentils are much cheaper than meat and are a very healthy option. Choose rice over bread. It lasts longer when stored properly, and it is naturally gluten-free, which is a good thing. Replace regular pasta with lentil-based pastas to enhance protein.
Rather than driving and wasting gas, take a walk to the grocery store. You’ll burn calories, get some fresh air, and be more mindful about what you purchase if you have to carry it all back by hand.
Feeling depressed and down?
Volunteer your time and energy. Acts of kindness spread good vibes, but they also uplift your spirit. When we feel that we are contributing or doing something that matters, we feel good about ourselves. Help someone you see in need. Go out of your way to make a neighbor smile.
Combat loneliness by scheduling Zoom chats with friends. Sign up for online exercise classes. Make time to go for a walk and observe the outside world. Reach out to a friend. Ask them how they are doing. The chances are that if you feel lonely, someone else you know is feeling the same. Don’t wait to be messaged; message someone you love and show them that you are there for them.
Schedule your day. Keep yourself occupied. We feel best when we feel useful. Getting things done and accomplishing small goals for the day is a mega mood lifter.
Don’t let a day go by without communication. Social media can be used to establish community: comment, share, and discover. Make everything that contributes to your health a priority.
Loss of memory/cognitive function?
Many people, especially the elderly, have reported memory problems due to isolation. Lack of cognitive use makes the brain lazy, and we start to let basic skills slip. Try playing brain games such as crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, or sudoku. Use the mind as much as possible to keep it sharp. We thrive with experience, meeting people, and taking in diverse scenery. When we cease to interact with the world and create experiences, we halt our intellectual growth. Books can be a helpful tool to imitate exploration. For moments in time, we can step into new realms full of ideas and unchartered thoughts. The descriptive worlds give us a sense of adventure.
Irregular sleep-wake cycles?
It is vital to re-establish healthy sleep routines. Even if you are unemployed, get up at the same time every day. Make your workout or yoga practice a responsibility like a job. Be accountable for waking up for it every day. Don’t binge-watch shows and stay up until sunrise. Value discipline as a means to create mental health and physical wellness.
Whatever you choose to do to make a change, let it be in the name of health. Any step towards wellbeing is a step in the right direction. As we live our lives by following the laws of nature, we thrive in health and happiness. We become ambassadors for a better way and guide people by example. The transition out of lockdown is a journey we all must make sooner or later. Let it be a journey to a better future for all of us. Take your health and life back safely. But don’t forget to wear your mask!
Information provided by Arootah is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should consult your physician or other licensed health care professional before starting any diet, exercise plan or regimen, or any other fitness or wellness program. This is particularly true if you or your family have a history of high blood pressure or heart disease, or if you have ever experienced discomfort while exercising. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information made available through our Programs and Services.