Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, there has been so much focus on health issues related to the virus, routine healthcare has become less accessible. If you want to learn more about how to avoid Covid-19, CLICK HERE.
In an earlier blog post I discussed tips to stay well emotionally while waiting out the Covid-19 pandemic. In this post I want to focus on ways to help you stay well physically while you wait for Covid-19 to pass and you can see your healthcare provider more easily.
Maintaining Physical Health: Maintaining physical health really has two parts. One is selfcare – what you can do for yourself; the other medical care that requires a doctor’s visit.
First the Selfcare.
- Exercise: Include at least 20 minutes daily into your schedule. This could be a walk or run, or specific exercises. If you’re outside, be sure to social distance and wear your mask. You can find lots of exercise videos on youtube and we publish exercises in each issue of HotYearsMag.com (TheHotYearsAndroid; /HotYearsIOS). Most gyms are closed, but that’s OK. You don’t need a gym. There are dozens of exercises such as sit ups, squats, leg lifts, pushups and more that don’t require any equipment. If you want to lift weights, you don’t need barbells. If you’re not very strong, hold a 12 ounce water bottle in each hand. Holding those weights you can do curls, lift your arms out to your sides and lift your arms over your head 10 times each. You can stand with both feet side by side the width of your hips and put a paper plate under one foot. Slide it forward till your opposite knee bends almost to the floor and then slide your foot back to where it started. That’s an easy way to do lunges. Exercise reduces stress, controls weight, and releases endorphins, which are our body’s natural opioids.
- Dental care. This is no time for a cavity or tooth ache if you can avoid it. Brush at least twice daily; floss once daily, or use a Waterpik or similar device. It’s difficult to get a dentist appointment now, and tooth and gum disease can seed bacteria into your body.
- Eat Healthy. Getting food is a bit of a challenge, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. You can get them at stores (some will shop for you and you can get curbside pickup), or you can look for companies that deliver. You can also get canned or frozen fruits and vegetables. Having non-perishables is a good idea because they last longer. The foods you have at home should include high protein foods (you need at least 50 and up to 60 grams of protein daily unless you have a medical problem such as kidney disease): canned tuna, certain grains (see below), protein bars or powders for shakes, beans, lentils and frozen fish and meats if available.
Protein Content of Grains
|Grain||Protein/Half Cup (grams)|
- Eat healthy snacks. Being home all day is a set up for grabbing handfuls of chips and junk food. Don’t. Healthy snack examples include a medium sized piece of fruit, ¼ of an avocado, or a tablespoon of hummus with carrot sticks or celery. Try to eat three balanced meals daily and remember to keep a schedule for meals.
- Control stress. Different people are experiencing different stresses during this pandemic. Some feel stressed because they can’t visit their family; some because money is tight, some because they are alone, can’t go on vacation, their graduation was cancelled, etc. But stress and misery aren’t competitive. We’re all experiencing our own stresses and one isn’t more stressful than the other. I recently heard psychologist Angela Duckworth discuss a research study she did on West Point cadets. She found that cadets experienced significant stress at the beginning of their education due to the hard rigors of cadet life. But the stress levels were tolerable because they were all in it together. At the end of their schooling, the study found that stress increased to an even greater level because they were no longer in it together; they were competing against each other. The takeaway is that if we all realized we are in this pandemic together and agreed that hand washing, wearing a mask and social distancing lowers the risk of disease and quickens the time until we can safely reopen society, stress would go down.
- Get enough sleep. Most of us require about 7 hours of sleep for optimal health. But many are so stressed that sleep has gotten worse. Here are some tips to increase the quality and quantity of your sleep.
o Don’t watch the evening news
o Don’t use your computer or watch TV in the hours leading to bedtime
o Don’t eat a heavy meal within three hours of bedtime
o Don’t exercise within three hours of bedtime
o Don’t talk with people who are upsetting or watch upsetting movies before bedtime
o Do take a relaxing warm bath or shower before bedtime. It relaxes your muscles.
o Do keep the room cool, ideally around 65° Fahrenheit
o Do use room darkening shades
o Do listen to relaxing music before going to bed
o Do write down things you are worried you’ll forget on a pad on your nightstand so you don’t stay up hoping you won’t forget them.
Medical Care that Requires a Doctor. The April 17, 2020 New England Journal of Medicine reported an untold toll of Covid-19 on patients without Covid-19. The sum of the article was that if you don’t have Covid-19, it’s gotten much harder to be seen by a doctor, even if you have chest pain, require cancer treatment, need elective surgery, or nearing the end of life and just need some help. There are no absolute solutions for this. The healthcare system is both overwhelmed and they don’t want you to get infected. Here are some ways to mitigate this:
- Medications: If you require medications for blood pressure, heart, immune suppression, insulin, inhalers, birth control pills, hormone therapy for those in menopause or other required prescription medications, have at least a 3-month supply. Many pharmacies will allow additional prescriptions during this pandemic, even if your next prescription isn’t due yet.
- Non-Medication requirements: Make sure to have plenty of blood glucose sticks, glucose tablets, lancets, a blood pressure cuff, a pulse oximeter (to measure oxygen), inhalers, batteries, list of doctors and their phone numbers
- Virtual Appointments: Many doctor’s offices will now provide virtual visits that can be done from home. Physical examinations by this method are limited, but it can be very helpful for mental health and routine care to know what your treatment plan is for the next window of time.
- Possible emergencies: If you believe you are having a medical emergency, unless it is obvious like significant bleeding or you are choking, call your doctor to see if he/she thinks you need to go to the emergency room or what else you can do. Pregnant women will still have to be seen for routine OB visits, but less often than they would be otherwise.
- Scheduled procedures: For the short run, many elective procedures are being cancelled and are just now being considered for scheduling. If your symptoms change or worsen, call your doctor to see if your “elective” problem is now an emergency and no longer elective.
By having a plan, it is possible to minimize the impact of less available medical access. But it won’t happen on it’s own. Work with your healthcare providers and become a partner in your healthcare.
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