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How to stay physically and mentally healthy while stuck at home

exercise-wellness-healthMost experts advise the keys to healthy living are plenty of sleep, regular exercise and a clean diet. In the height of the coronavirus outbreak, these behaviors are perhaps more crucial than ever before.

Most of us can agree these actions are crucial to our physical and mental well-being. But social distancing and stay-at-home orders complicate things. How are you supposed to eat right when you’re stocking up on non-perishables and frozen goods? How can you exercise when you’re stuck at home and any slight movement sends your downstairs neighbor into a huff? How can you sleep when you’re anxious about the state of the world?

Consider these tips for staying healthy and calm amidst COVID-19.

Working out

You may not be able to go to the gym right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep up with your regular exercise routine. There are dozens of YouTube channels, fitness apps and other online resources you can turn to for a bit of motivation during this period of isolation.

If you’ve always been interested in yoga, the Yoga With Adriene YouTube channel is a great place to start. Fitness apps such as Peloton, Nike and Aaptiv are great options for users on a cardio kick. If you want to build strength, Sweat By Kayla and Centr Fit are the apps for you. To top it all off, most (if not all) of these apps are currently offering free trials to new users, so take advantage of them while you can!

If fitness apps and online workout classes aren’t your style, considering taking this time as an opportunity to adopt a new activity, like biking or running outside (at a safe distance of six feet from other people, of course.) You may not be able to go to Dick’s Sporting Goods for a new pair of running shoes, but you can still order any necessary gear online. Better yet, check in with local sportswear stores and see if they’re making at-home deliveries. You’ll be supporting your mind, body and small businesses all in one go.

Eating well

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people limit their trips to the grocery store to once a week, and to avoid supermarkets during its peak hours. This may not be a major life change for some; but this can be a dietary game changer for those of us who tend to pick up produce two or three times a week.

Despite what you may think, canned and frozen foods can be healthy, too. If you’re stocking up on non-perishables and dried goods, choose those that are low in saturated fats, salt and added sugars. There’s also not much of a health difference between fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, according to The New York Times.

Keep in mind that going to the grocery store just once a week doesn’t mean you have to eliminate buying fresh produce. If anything, this is a great time to get creative with fresh goods. Continue to buy those fruits and vegetables, cut them up and put them in your freezer. They’ll be good for months to come.

As a pro tip, be sure to review your fridge and pantry before going to the store and making a list ahead of time of the things you need. This is the best way to avoid impulsively buying goods you don’t need and risk wiping out community supplies.

Your dietary habits don’t need to drastically change just because the world around you is.

Sleep and stress management

Managing stress and anxiety is crucial for getting enough sleep, and getting enough sleep is crucial for your overall health.

But it can be easy to spend a sleepless night when your thoughts are racing and your anxiety is at an all-time high. If you’re struggling to get in your usual eight hours, this may be the perfect time to pick a yoga or meditation practice. If you don’t know where to get started, apps like Headspace and Talkspace are great for mindfulness training and therapy, while Gaia and Asana are a few go-to yoga apps.

Do yourself a favor and limit screen time in the evening, especially two hours before going to bed. Social media and news sites are particularly stressful to scroll through right now, and we promise that no amount of #socialdistancing hashtags will be able to prepare you for a peaceful night of sleep.

Cleaning and hygiene

Research suggests SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can live on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for 72 hours, cardboard for 24 hours and copper for four hours. While the CDC has said surface contamination doesn’t seem to be the primary way the virus spreads, it certainly can’t hurt to wipe down high-touch objects such as door knobs, railings and faucets, in addition to regular household upkeep.

Also consider washing your hand towels frequently and removing your shoes and coats as soon as you walk through the door. When you have to go out in public for necessary trips, consider wearing plastic gloves and covering your face with a scarf, bandana or another makeshift face mask (because we’re all being mindful about reserving PPE’s for healthcare workers, right?)

This is a stressful time, and maintaining your health is crucial for the well-being of yourself and others. If you’re feeling mentally bogged down, remember that we’re all in this state of uncertainty together, and there are always resources to call when times get tough.

Stay safe, stay healthy and wash your hands.