How to Stay Healthy (and Sane) While You Ride Out COVID-19

If you’re fortunate enough not to have coronavirus in your home, lucky you. No one’ll fault you for throwing on the television, heating up frozen meals, and counting down the days. But after you’ve done the bare minimum—washing hands thoroughly, cleaning surfaces and doorknobs—there are some simple ways to feel better and saner in the coming weeks, according to Myles Spar, M.D., chief medical officer for Vault Health and author of Optimal Men’s Health. “Every day, there are four things you need to consider: diet, exercise, sleep, and stress,” Spar says. Here’s how to get it done.

Diet

Meme-worthy as it is, you shouldn’t be eating all day. If you followed a diet before, such as intermittent fasting or no sugar, keep it up. If you’re running out of fresh produce, remember frozen is just as healthy. Canned is third place—still good, but can contain more sodium. It’s a good time to explore some shelf-stable healthy options, like mushroom powder. We like Four Sigmatic, which comes in coffee and cacao form, plus packets to mix into soups and protein shakes. And make sure to drink plenty of water, which may not be as strong of a habit at home as it is at work. It won’t prevent you from contracting the virus, but hydration helps you get over colds quicker, Spar says.

Exercise

Obviously getting some fresh air is ideal, but if you don’t have a backyard and your city has asked you to stay inside, there are plenty of bodyweight workouts that require minimal space. And try to work out as a family, Spar says. If a run isn’t in the cards, try yoga, which has physical and mental benefits. We like the Down Dog app, which is free for anyone working in a healthcare setting through July 1. And there are plenty of other studios streaming flows for free, like CorePower Yoga and Sky Ting.

Sleep

The regular rules of better sleep still apply: no devices in bed, create as dark and quiet an environment as possible, quit drinking a couple hours before bed. But here are a few additional ones. Stop watching the news at least an hour before you go to sleep, Spar suggests. Stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule, as if you were going to work and coming home. To wind down, take a hot shower, do some deep breathing, or journal.

Stress-Relief

This is hard to manage on a regular day, and it’s ratcheted up know. “In these tight environments, it’s really easy to get impatient and frustrated,” Spar says. “So let’s train ourselves to come from a place of responsiveness rather than reacting.” What does that mean? If someone is annoying you, don’t give in to yelling. Instead, take a breath and calmly say that you could use a little space for a few minutes, then find a place in the house to chill out for half an hour. If you’ve never meditated, now’s the time. (If you’re not convinced it’s for you, Dan Harris’s book Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics may change your mind.) And make time to have fun. If you’re with your family, have a movie night and art hours. And maintain social connections. Fix a cocktail, video chat with your friends, and suspend reality for a little while.

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