National and local government recommendations are doing everything possible to keep the general population as healthy as possible throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to following their recommendations, listed below are healthy tips to live by all the time, but especially important to highlight during a time of crisis. These are uncertain times, which can cause increased stress and anxiety in many people. It is important to focus on factors you can control, rather than perseverate on things beyond your control. I challenge you to review the following tips and find at least one (but ideally as many as possible) that you can implement in your daily life.
- Eat a healthy diet rich in WHOLE FOODS. Not only do whole foods provide essential nutrients and minerals, but they are also ideal for helping to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Additionally, it is equally important to eliminate added sugar and processed foods as they contribute to inflammation, fatigue, and many chronic diseases. Cooking at home is the best way to know exactly what is in the meals you are eating. Make cooking a fun activity that involves the whole family. Eliminating processed foods does not mean food will be tasteless or boring. There are ENDLESS free resources online to help find healthier and creative meals; try searching your family’s favorite meal but add the word Paleo or Whole 30 in the search (i.e. Paleo spaghetti and meatballs). There is a healthy swap for almost everything!
- Hydration is key. Make it your daily goal to drink a minimum of 64 ounces of water to maintain adequate hydration. If you do not enjoy the taste of water, try enhancing your water with mint leaves, cucumber, lemon, or lime for a refreshing change-up. Your taste buds may also enjoy the fizz of sparkling water. Diet soda doesn’t count as healthy!
- Make getting adequate sleep a priority. It is so easy to get out of your normal routine if you are working from home, which can leave you feeling unmotivated and tired. It is important to stick to a schedule that puts boundaries around work, meals, exercise and sleep. A balanced schedule will not only help with productivity at home, but it is also extremely important for keeping your hormones balanced. Our circadian rhythm can be impacted by many things; try to stop eating several hours before bed, avoid screen time 1-2 hours before going to bed, and try to get 7-9 hours of sleep nightly.
- Find an outlet for stress. Meditation, prayer, and breathing exercises can help relieve stress; try a gratitude meditation or prayer to help you focus on the positives around you. You could get in some fresh air by going for a walk while maintaining social distancing if you have this availability. While walking, enjoy the sounds of nature, call a friend to catch up, or listen to a favorite podcast or audiobook. You may also enjoy singing along with some of your favorite feel-good songs. Lastly, spending 5 to 10 minutes journaling a day can also help reduce anxiety and keep your mental health in check.
- Limit your TV and social media time. Just like the idea of limiting our children’s screen time, adults too should not overindulge. Watching hours of pandemic news coverage can make anyone depressed. Watch (or read) a short summary of the latest updates and recommendations, and then turn the news off. Instead, try reading a book, playing a board game with your family, or sending a card to a loved one.
At Breast Reconstruction Associates, our hearts go out to everyone affected by this virus. We are especially aware of the impact this has made on the treatment decisions of our breast cancer patients. Our providers are actively participating in multidisciplinary conversations to stay updated on the best and safest treatment options during this evolving and unprecedented time. We look forward to meeting your surgical reconstructive needs as soon as possible, but if you are struggling with mental health issues during this time, you are not alone. Please reach out to your medical team for guidance and resources on coping mechanisms.