How to take care of physical and mental health during a pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant economic collapse negatively affect people’s mental health and physical health. This condition has become so overwhelming and as a result, everyone is undergoing feelings of anxiety, anger, or depression, (due to family loss, fear about quarantine) and can face issues such as muscle tension, headache, and fatigue (due to hectic daily routine). According to a 2020 study, in the United States around 4 out of 10 persons showed symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue.

Besides mental health and physical issues, Covid-19 has affected the diet and lifestyle of people in a way no one can imagine. Isolation and staying at home have led them to consume high-sodium snacks, junk food, and fatty meals that sure, give immediate pleasure to our taste buds but also the potential reasons behind the development of diseases like blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and heart issues. However, with the proper self-care such physical and mental health issues can be solved.

In this article, different strategies to improve physical and mental health will be discussed.

Ways To Take Care Of Mental And Physical Health

1. Eat A Healthy Diet

Anxiety and panic are likely to rise during this pandemic, therefore, a well-nourished body is better equipped to deal with stress. Research shows that traditional Mediterranean food is best for mental health due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics2. This diet is referred to as 'anti-depressive diet and consists of fruits, whole grains, berries, vegetables (particularly green leaves), nuts (including almonds), olive oil, and seeds.

Moreover, to improve physical health during this pandemic, WHO recommends that an individual should daily eat: “2.5 cups of vegetables (5 servings), 2 cups of fruit (4 servings), 160 g of meat and beans and 180 g of grains”.

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2. Sleep Better

Sleep deprivation affects 90% of depressed people, and concerns about the coronavirus are likely to exacerbate this problem. A good night's sleep is a type of therapy that enhances the chances of coping with intense emotions effectively and also allows the body to recover from previous activities and stresses.

Every day, try to get up and go to bed at the same time. Research recommends that getting eight hours of sleep is best for mental and physical health3.  Also, take a hot bath, set the bedroom temperature to approximately 18°C, and do not use electronic devices such as laptops or mobile for two hours before going to sleep.

3. Exercise Frequently

It's important to keep exercising especially during the coronavirus outbreak. Clinical studies have shown that regular exercise generates neurotransmitters like serotonin dopamine that are just as helpful as psychotherapy or antidepressant medicine in treating mild depression.  

Similarly, exercise or physical activities improve muscle strength and boost endurance by delivering essential nutrients and oxygen to tissues. Exercise is beneficial for heart health, so when the heart health of a person is improved, an individual can easily perform daily chores.

Therefore, it is important to make a daily routine exercising plan because most individuals cannot go to the gym during the crisis. Medical professional recommends exercising for 30-40 minutes of exercise three to four times a week. You can also try Yoga, stretching, and strengthening exercises (pushups and sit-to-stand) to improve physical health.

4. Take A Break from The News

Constant news about the pandemic can be exhausting, and it might worsen mental health issues. Research showed that the amount of information an individual can get after watching, listening, or reading the news, might be overwhelming for a person and can make a person panic5.  Even browsing through social media about Covid-19 news can trigger anxiety.

Therefore, during this pandemic, watch the news to a limit and maintain the necessary balance by taking breaks and staying informed from reputable sources such as National Health Service.

5. Discuss Your Feelings

Some people may believe that discussing their despair and anxiety does not require special attention during this pandemic. However, medical professionals recommend people should be encouraged to discuss their feelings. There are various support helplines available such as Telehealth, mental health services through which people can seek mental help and their main goal is to provide quality health care to the individuals.

Additionally, medical practitioners emphasize that it is necessary to improve mental health because better mental health also promotes physical health and wellness.

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