By Anthony Greer, AG Publishing
By April, 39% of people were no longer going into work and “stay home, stay healthy” became this year’s mantra. The “stay home” part is easy. Figuring out how to stay healthy – not so much.
COVID-19 soon became “the COVID-19.” To varying degrees, many of us let go a little. We tend to judge ourselves harshly whenever this happens, but this time around we should all cut ourselves a little slack. A pandemic is stressful enough on its own. When you throw in political strife, social unrest, financial uncertainty, and murder hornets, it’s no wonder that our health hasn’t been a priority.
However, it needs to be. Being active and staying healthy is also vital for your physical and mental health. Also, keeping your immune system strong can reduce your COVID-19 symptoms.
Now that we’ve grown used to our new reality, here are a few ways that I’ve discovered how to stay healthy while working from home:
Learn New Recipes
A couple weeks into the shutdown, I learned three food-related facts:
- My stress eating increased
- All 10 seasons of MasterChef are on Hulu
- 1 and 2 is a dangerous combination
I don’t cook much, but I figured it was time to learn. After understanding the basics, I started exploring a few variations of these recipes. Here are my favorites:
I also discovered my new favorite breakfast shake. It’s basically a healthy vanilla milkshake:
- 5oz Oikos vanilla greek yogurt
- 1 banana
- ½ cup of milk (or almond milk)
- 1 scoop of your favorite vanilla protein powder
If you want to start cooking healthy but don’t know where to begin, try out these 20 healthy food YouTube channels. I worked my way down the list, skipping those that I knew right away wouldn’t have my palette.
Step counts declined once we began staying at home. It wasn’t a steep drop for some, but as someone who walks everywhere, my average step count decreased from 11,000 to 4,000 steps overnight.
If we go by Very Well Fit’s step-to-calorie conversion chart, I went from burning around 479 calories per day from walking to just 174 calories. That’s 305 fewer calories a day, or 2,135 fewer every week. These numbers didn’t even include the cardio I was no longer doing at the gym.
To remedy this, I scheduled time for two walks every day – or a walk and the occasional jog. I treated these as bookends to my work day or as work breaks to clear my head. You’ve got to fit these into your schedule until they become second nature – and stick to it no matter the weather (excluding when it was literally dangerous to go outside).
You can earn your steps in other ways, too, by walking around while you’re on the phone catching up with friends and family. I logged 6,000 steps on a single call with my mom once, which I wouldn’t have if I stayed on the couch.
Reward yourself every time you set a new record or achieve a daily or weekly goal. Set long-term goals, too. One of mine was to walk the distance of the Sahara Desert (approx. 1,200 miles) in 6 months. The last month was rough, but I did it.
Under normal circumstances, most of us have to physically go to and from work, have breaks, and leave. Without those parameters, many of us once again violated the second half of our “stay home, stay healthy” mantra. We found ourselves working 6-7 hours without a break and long after our scheduled out times. Not only does this lead to burnout, but it actually makes you less productive.
Whatever your schedule was before – try to keep it that way. If you’re used to working 9-5, make sure you’re at your work area and ready to work by 9 and disconnecting around 5. Throughout your day, make sure you’re taking intermittent breaks that resemble what you used to do. You can also try the Pomodoro Technique, which many find helpful.
Maintain as many of your usual norms as you can, and teach yourself new techniques on how to stay healthy with a schedule that works for you. You’ll find yourself feeling much better.
Working from home gives you a unique opportunity to do a quick workout. Whether you follow a traditional break schedule, the Pomodoro Technique, or a new strategy, take advantage of the few minutes you have away from the screen.
One strategy that I implemented was to take a 5-minute break at the end of every hour. Here’s what that looked like:
|9:55am||3 sets of pushups|
|10:55am||1 minute of jumping jacks|
|11:55am||3 sets of sit-ups|
|12:30pm||Lunch break or short walk|
|1:55pm||3 sets of pushups|
|2:55pm||1 minute of jumping jacks|
|3:55pm||3 sets of sit-ups|
|4:55pm||1 minute of planking|
Not only do short workouts throughout the day keep you healthy, they also help you refocus. Play around with different techniques to figure out what works best for you.
In 2019, the average adult spent about 3 ½ hours a day online. When our stay “home, stay healthy” orders hit, that nearly doubled. Once again, we had the “stay home” part down, but we didn’t focus on how to stay healthy. Screen time can lead to a number of physical, mental, and emotional maladies. People have reported neck and eyestrain, obesity, anxiety, and depression.
Pick up hobbies that don’t require staring at a screen. Explore new areas in your city or town – or disconnect completely by taking a weekend trip to a cabin or whatever AirBnB has to offer. You’ll feel much better for it.
Vitamins and Supplements
Research that supports supplemental therapy as a treatment for COVID-19 is still in its infancy. However, there are several vitamins and supplements that could plausibly reduce your symptoms. Here are a few to consider:
Vitamin D deficiency is common – especially in the northwest. This deficiency puts you at an increased risk of acute respiratory infections, including COVID-19 and the seasonal flu. Everyone’s vitamin D levels are different, so taking a supplement and calling it a day is not recommended. Get your vitamin D levels tested by your doctor first, and then they can help you determine an appropriate dosage.
It’s no secret that this antioxidant can fortify your immune system, especially when taken via IV. Human trials are finding that vitamin C may decrease susceptibility to viral respiratory infections. These trials are currently underway to determine how effective vitamin C is as a treatment for COVID-19.
Zinc impacts multiple aspects of the immune system. It plays an important role in antibody and white blood cell production and fights infections. It can reduce the duration of common cold symptoms and, while it remains unclear if it can benefit patients with lower respiratory tract infections, researchers are looking into its potential benefits. Zinc is best taken in combination with other trace minerals to avoid disruption to copper levels, such as in a multivitamin or multi-mineral. It is also smart to take with food as this supplement can be nauseating on an empty stomach.
Long story short – take your vitamins. If you’re secretly a 12-year-old in the body of an adult, buy gummy-vites and ask your doctor about what other vitamins you should be adding to your daily regimen. You may even be able to supplement many of your immune support vitamins with maintenance IV therapy, but you can discuss this with your provider to learn what is best for you.
How to Stay Healthy – A Final Note
We will eventually have better treatment options for COVID-19, but working from home or reverting to a hybrid home/office model may become the new normal for many of us. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself, and if you need to learn more about how to stay healthy, we can help.