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Ten Tips To Staying Healthy When You’re Stuck At Home

With people spending more time in their homes than ever before, it’s important to be mindful of physical, mental and emotional health during this time. 

Here are ten tips you can follow to stay healthy when you’re stuck at home.

1. Stick to a healthy sleep schedule.

There’s no question that being on lockdown is disruptive to the rhythm of many people’s days, including their sleep schedule.  But in the midst of the disruption, it’s important to create structure that supports beneficial habits, including sticking to a healthy sleep schedule.

Sleeping 7-9 hours a night has myriad benefits, including increased productivity, improved concentration, improved immune function and improved blood sugar control.  Also, people who sleep at least 7 hours a night tend to have lower rates of obesity, heart disease, depression and inflammation.

2. Get moving!

Even though most gyms are closed at the moment, it’s important to still make exercise a priority in your day.  The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio a week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous cardio a week. 

People who follow the AHA guidelines are less likely to suffer from diabetes, depression, heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, pregnancy complications, insomnia and obesity. 

The AHA has exercise suggestions on their website (https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults.)  If you’re looking for other ideas, many exercise classes are currently being offered online for free.

3. Choose healthy snacks.

Spending more time at home usually means you’re also spending more time in close proximity to your kitchen, which can lead to frequent snacking -- often on snacks that are highly processed, or are high in salt, sugar or fat. 

Here are proven strategies for making healthier snack choices:

  • Prepare fruits and vegetables as soon as you bring them home. You are more likely to snack on fruits or vegetables if they’re already washed and prepped.
  • Keep healthy snacks where you can see them.  For instance, keep a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter and place other healthy snacks at eye level so they’re the first thing you see when you open the fridge or cupboard.
  • Prepare all your snacks at the beginning of the day.  This can help you control portion size for each snack, as well as limit the number of calories you’ll consume from snacking that day.

4. Get some sunshine.

Spending (socially-distanced) time outdoors every day is good for your physical and mental health. Natural light has been proven to increase your Vitamin D levels, improve your mood, decrease the incidence of seasonal affective disorder, and decrease the risk of several cancers. 

Getting 10-15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure several times a week helps maintain healthy Vitamin D levels.  (Though remember to cover your skin and/or apply sunscreen that’s at least SPF 15 the rest of the time you’re outdoors.)

5. Stay connected to people you love.

Many people have pointed out that the term “physical distancing” is more accurate and helpful than the term “social distancing.”   Because even though you may be spending time apart from the people you care about, it’s important to recognize that you can still stay emotionally connected to them through emails, phone calls, video chats, etc.

Research has shown that people who engage in healthy relationships have lower rates of depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety and stress. 

6. Don’t overdo it on alcohol.

Sales of alcoholic beverages rose by a whopping 55% during the lockdown.  This increase is attributed to several causes.  First, with many bars and restaurants closed, more people are drinking at home.  Second, more people are working from home or unemployed, giving them more time to drink.  And third, many people are using alcohol to cope with the stress and the boredom the pandemic has caused. 

But it’s important to be mindful of your alcohol consumption, since excessive drinking can lead to liver disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, certain cancers, and other detrimental health effects. 

7. Plan your meals in advance.

Meal planning has been shown to be beneficial to your health (and your budget!)  People who wait until they’re hungry to decide what to eat tend to reach for fast (and often unhealthy) options. 

On the other hand, if you plan and prep your meals in advance, you’ll make fewer trips to the grocery store, plan meals that are more likely to be healthy and balanced, and you’ll decide in advance how many calories you’ll consume. 

8. Use an ergonomic workspace.

If you’re working from home, it’s important to make sure you create an ergonomic workspace.  Suggestions include choosing a chair with good lumbar support, keeping your computer screen at eye level an arm’s length away from you, and setting the height of your desk so your hands and wrists are at or just below elbow level when you’re typing.  Also, don’t cradle your phone between your head and neck when you’re on a call; use headphones instead, or place your phone on speaker.

9. Access health care virtually.

While some health concerns do require an in-person visit with a health care provider, many concerns can be addressed virtually.  If you’re experiencing concerning symptoms, you can often access health care via telemedicine or video visits with GoHealth Urgent Care. 

Remember that virtual health care isn’t only for physical symptoms.  You can use virtual visits to connect with providers who can help you with mental health concerns as well.

10.Don’t forget to laugh.

A look at the day’s headlines during this pandemic is likely to induce stress, anxiety, depression, worry, sadness -- or all the above.  While you may feel guilty for feeling or expressing any lightheartedness during this time, it’s actually a necessary form of self-care to find ways to give yourself a break from the heaviness of our current reality.

Laughter is an essential stress-relief tool that has been shown to alleviate anxiety, improve blood flow to major organs, stimulate the release of endorphins, alleviate muscle tension and improve immune system function.

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At GoHealth Urgent Care, we’re open 7 days a week to care for you. We offer virtual visits in many of our markets as well. Click here if there’s anything we can do to help you feel better today: 

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