What Does “Being Healthy” Mean in this Unprecedented Moment?
Whether we want to admit it or not, we’re living day-to-day in a moment of time that will forever go down in the history books. Anxiety, fear, and uncertainty are high. Now more than ever we need to be aiding our bodies in the best way possible to fight off germs. AKA: We need to be the healthiest version of ourselves possible.
So what does that look like? Below are tips I have learned and have been practicing over the last several years as a wellness coach.
* Sleep is critically important: Easier said than done when your mind is concerned about your loved one out on the front line; concerned over the fact that you lost your job and have no idea how you are going to pay your bills; navigating suddenly being a homeschool teacher while juggling a full-time job from home, etc. These are all stressors that keep us up at night. I personally have found a moment of calm, as simple as not turning on the tv in the bedroom or listening to a meditation app when falling asleep (Calm and Headspace are great one), can be extremely helpful.
* Eat well: Eating the rainbow (and I am not talking about Skittles!) will keep your body happy. This means eat vegetables, fruits, and high fiber carbs that represent all colors from the rainbow. By doing this you are giving your body a variety of vitamins and minerals, and variety is what your body needs right now. Avoid processed foods. If the label has ingredients that you cannot read, you probably should not be eating it. Processed foods strain our bodies to digest them and truly impacts our guts. I am a strong believer that food is medicine. And you either are serving your body well by what you eat or you are taxing your body, and your immune system, by what you eat. Your body does not need that extra strain on it right now.
* Drink more water than you think you need: I’m often asked the question... “How much water do I really need?” My answer is a minimum of half your body weight in ounces of water. So if you weigh 150 pounds you should be drinking a minimum of 75 ounces a day. That’s a minimum! I personally strive for 120 ounces per day. Yes, that’s a lot. But every part of our body needs water to function. If you are dehydrated, your body will not function at its highest potential. Does this mean I’m taking a lot of trips to the bathroom a day? Yes! Let’s just count it as extra exercise and more hand washing!
* Move your body at least 30 minutes a day: Research proves over and over again that exercising just 30 minutes a day can boost overall health and well-being. The benefits include a boost in your mood and energy, reduction in stress, increased heart health, improvement in memory, increased productivity and could even help with creativity. And yes just 30 minutes a day of exercise even aids in weight loss because you are more likely to social distance yourself from your refrigerator!
* Avoid an overabundance of social media and news outlets: I was getting consumed. Consumed by all of the posts. Consumed by all of the news articles. It was causing a deep sense of fear inside me. 3 nights ago I put the kids to bed and was reading a story from the hospital at the epicenter of the virus in Italy. It went into detail about what they were seeing. And you know what? I did not sleep that night. I was envisioning one of those people being me in the hospital bed. I was envisioning the worst-case scenario and it felt like it was 100% going to happen to me. Fear overtook my entire being. The next morning I deleted all National and International news apps off my phone. I kept the local ones because they are the ones that directly impact me. When it comes to social media and news outlets you need to ask yourself… How is this serving me? If the answer is “negatively” then you need to do what is necessary to get rid of it.
* Do what you can to decrease stress and anxiety: This is way easier said than done. I’ve personally been struggling tremendously with anxiety and I know I am not alone. I have a whole new appreciation for those who struggle with it on a daily basis because until 2 weeks ago I truly did not understand what real anxiety was. I do now. And wish I didn’t. We know that stress and anxiety compromise the immune system. So do what you need to do to lessen these. Talk to friends and family through FaceTime or Zoom, go for a walk outside, have a virtual happy hour with your college friends and reminisce about your times at Murph’s. My college girls and I did that this week and it honestly was food for my soul. It was the most I have laughed since this entire thing started!. Implement many of the above techniques to help your mind get to a better place. It’s all for your immune system!
* Shelter in place if your job allows it and follow the directions by the CDC to protect yourself: Why shelter in place? This makes it less likely for you to be exposed to the virus. It also greatly reduces potential exposure and spread to those who do not have the luxury of staying home (yes staying home is a luxury!). Our job right now is to avoid the spread of this virus. So please do your part! And for the love of everything good, if you were not doing it before (and please do not tell me if you weren’t...ewww) WASH YOUR HANDS!!!!!
Staying as healthy as possible during this time will not only increase your ability to fight off this virus if you do get exposed to it, it will also set you up for a continued healthy lifestyle once the dust settles from this moment in history.
So my question to you is... What do you need to change or add into what you are currently doing to be the best (aka: healthiest) version of yourself?
Stay well and healthy my fellow alumni friends!
—Melanie Cohen '02
About the author: Melanie Cohen is a 2002 alumna who graduated with Bachelor's of Science in Public Relations and Mass Communication. She currently lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with her husband Sean '01 and two beautiful children ages seven and five. Melanie has built a successful professional career in the field of non-profit fundraising, specifically working with major gift donors. Her true passion is in health and wellness and became a Wellness Coach five years ago. You can follow her on Instagram @melco_health.