During times of stress, it is easy to let our bodies get run down. We give in to health sabotaging activities like stress eating during times when we, ironically, need to be focusing on our wellbeing more than ever.
Over the past week we have been experiencing major amounts of stress. There have been changes in our schedules, we are in isolating environments, we are worried for our safety and financial stability, and we are anxious about the uncertainty of it all. During times like these, how can we focus on our health?
We don’t want to elude to the fact that overnight you can “boost” your immune system, because, unfortunately, that’s not how it works. However, your first line of defense against illness is to be living an overall healthy lifestyle. And as we know, a healthy lifestyle can diminish quickly when are dealing with all the stressors mentioned above. So, how can you continue to live a healthy lifestyle during times of stress?
The answer: schedule out healthy living decisions in advance. For example, set an alarm on your phone to remind you to take your daily medications. So, what healthy living habits can we schedule in advance?
Healthy meals. For the most part, people will continue to have full access to food including carry-out options from many restaurants. We don’t have to rely on ultra-processed foods for fuel. Work to plan your meals and meal times in advance. Use grocery pick-up or delivery options and/or restaurant carry-out options. Work in as many fresh or frozen plant-based foods as possible. This can include fruits, vegetables, whole and intact grains, beans, lentils, nuts and nuts spreads and seeds. If you’re doing carry-out, opt for a fresh salad or bean soup. Just because you’re eating out, doesn’t mean you can’t work in lots of healthy options!
Exercise. Thankfully, our lives are set up for virtual access to just about anything, including guided workouts. You can join in group online workouts, get outside and go walking or hiking, check out a new park, clean the bathroom, you name it. Just write down when and what you plan to do in your calendar!
Cocktail hour. If you’re worried about having increased access to alcoholic beverages at home, schedule a time for your cocktail beverage and work to not indulge beforehand. For overall health, focus on drinking in moderation. This means one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Increased alcohol intake can negatively affect our sleep and our overall health.
Sleep. Sleep is crucial for not only your physical function, but your mental function as well. If you feel that you are having issues with sleep you can address with them with your physician. However, there are many natural remedies to improve sleep as well. One of the major remedies is to remove yourself from artificial light from screens (like your phone) at least an hour before bedtime. Caffeine and alcohol also play a role. So, what time do you plan to get off of your phone and what time do you plan to go to bed tonight?
Work in stress relieving activities. Whether it is reading a good book, watching a funny movie, meditating or taking a warm bath, schedule and participate in stress relieving activities that pull you away from the news, social media and other places that are currently causing you increased stress.
Remember, having a plan doesn’t mean its 100% going to happen, and flexibility is key right now. However, having a plan is going to help set you up for more success overall.