In the face of uncertainty and disruption of schedules and routines, health practices which support optimal physical and mental well-being may become more challenging. We at Bio Energy Medical Center want to help support you through these times, while acknowledging that everyone is coping differently and not passing judgment on whatever mechanisms have initially felt right for you. We want to make sure that if/when you encounter this virus (or any other number of pathogens or environmental toxins for that matter) that you are in the best possible position to maintain your health. Here are a few tips and resources during this time to help build or maintain healthy lifestyle practices:
- Sleep: Make sure you are going to bed and waking up at roughly the same times every day, even if your schedule has recently changed to maintain your circadian rhythm and support hormone balance. Aim for 7-8 hours per night – clocking in less than 7 hours per night can make you up to three times more likely to develop the common cold (many of which causative agents are also coronaviruses)!
- Movement: Make sure you are moving your body for at least 30 minutes daily – this can help support mental health, cardiovascular health, and boost circulating levels of a type of white blood cell called neutrophils. Find a way of moving that feels most enjoyable for you such as walking outdoors, yoga (such as Yoga with Adriene on YouTube), Peloton classes (currently offering a 90-day free trial), and/or dusting off the treadmill or exercise bike in your basement! Consider partnering with a family member or a friend who is also looking to stay active for regular check-ins & accountability.
- Mental health/Stress management: If you do not already have meditation or breathing practices as part of your regular routine, now is an excellent time to start! Start small and choose a time of day and location to practice. There are many wonderful websites and apps available such as Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer, or Meditation Studio. Also consider something called four-square or box breathing where after exhaling completely, inhale to a count of 4, hold the breath in for a count of 4, exhale 4, and hold the breath out to a count of 4; consider picturing the square while you do this, and perhaps assign it a color that feels soothing to you.
This is also a great time to consider working with a licensed counselor – if you don’t already have one, you can find one on PsychologyToday.com, or consider a subscription-based model such as through TalkSpace.com.
- Nutritional Intake: Ask yourself if you are using food for a purpose other than nourishment. For some, food can be used to gain a sense of control, as a distraction, or for comfort. For others, accessibility of foods you typically eat may have changed, or family members who have a different way of eating may be living with you during this time. Try to be mindful with your eating habits – ask yourself why you want to eat when you find yourself standing in front of the fridge (am I actually hungry?), eat at a table and not in front of a screen, and do your best to set boundaries for yourself if you need to eat differently from your family members because of food sensitivities, digestive issues, etc. I know this is easier said than done, but focusing on the above measures (quality sleep, exercise, and mental health support) may help support your nutritional choices as well.
Consider employing a technique called “S.M.A.R.T.” goal-setting. This means making your goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
We want to make sure your plan of care and lifestyle practices are on track and to continue to support your hormone balance, optimal digestive function, cardiovascular health, optimal nutrient levels, and other measures that have a powerful impact on your immune function. Some of our patients are electing not to have follow-up labs drawn at this time, which we can understand, but our visits together are about so much more than that! We are here to help you set goals and provide friendly accountability to maintain or build new health habits, meeting you wherever you are right now. Please know that we are here to support you through this time.
Ivy M. Carson, MSN, RN, AGPCNP-BC, CHC