A simple three step guide for successfully and safely moving forward with life and business during COVID-19.
As the founder of a health tech company, I've kept up with the latest on COVID-19 or the novel Coronavirus. A simple google search will land you on headlines that read, "Simple Math Offers Alarming Answers," "COVID-19 Is A Threat To Trump's Presidency," and "Man With Presumptive Positive Identified As Episcopal Rector." And yes, the article included a photo of the religious leader in his clerical clothes. If you, like me, are being bombarded by these alarming headlines (and photos), it may be difficult to avoid thinking about taking drastic measures — i.e. checking the confirmed COVID-19 cases and death tracker on the hour every hour.
And to add to the hysteria, we recently learned that our most beloved Hollywood couple, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson tested positive for Coronavirus. If it wasn't clear before, it is now. We are in the midst of a public health crisis. Successfully moving on with life and business during COVID-19 doesn't mandate you to turn off your notifications, but it does require a willingness to be more thoughtful about where you get your information and how to best prepare for your health and minimize the economic impact on the community at large.
To help, I created an easy three step guide for getting on with life in the midst of a public health crisis with women in mind. Because let's face it, we already have a 200+ year waiting period until we can enjoy equal pay. So while others are keeping themselves distracted with doomsday theories, get informed, make a plan of action, and get ahead.
Use the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as your primary source of information. Getting the facts correct in any public health crises is paramount to taking the correct action. The CDC is responsible for controlling the introduction and spread of infectious diseases in the US. While their slow release of COVID-19 testing kits has received a great deal of criticism, their ability to provide the most up-to-date information on what you should know, situation updates, and information for specific audiences, has made them one of the most reliable sources of information in the US. So before you find yourself repeating or acting on second-hand information from a friend or family member (I'm guilty as well), consider checking out the CDC's information page on Coronavirus instead.
Know what your plan of action will be if you experience COVID-19 symptoms. According to the CDC, early data indicates those who are most at risk include those who are immunocompromised (i.e. COPD, diabetes, HIV positive). If you are living with one or more of these illnesses, inform a trusted friend who can advocate for you in the case of an infection. If you fall into the category of "relatively healthy" think about what you can do to prevent the spread and unnecessary interruption to your life. For one thing, did you know that in most people COVID-19 can be treated safely at home? By using virtual care services, like Doctor on Demand or Teladoc, as opposed to walking into a clinic, hospital, or office setting, you're not only limiting your exposure to COVID-19 in the case that you don't have it but also limiting the exposure of health care workers and other members of the public should you, in fact, have Coronavirus.
Knowing ahead of time whether you plan on calling into your primary care provider or booking a live video visit to get expert clinical advice, can make all the difference in giving you the peace of mind that you need to get on with your personal and work life. If you need help choosing the right virtual care provider, view what is available and use our virtual care service and price comparison tool at Hello Jessie.
Make small adjustments to your daily routine before taking drastic measures. Before locking yourself in an underground bunker (Blast from the Past reference anyone?) consider taking a few precautions to help protect yourself and others from coming into contact with COVID-19 — all the while supporting the businesses that you love.
As of now, the CDC advises that it's safe to venture out of the house as long as you take precautions such as frequently cleaning your hands with soap or hand sanitizer and staying at least 3 feet away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing. However, this recommendation does not apply to people in high-risk groups who are being advised by the CDC to avoid crowds. That said, if you are a "relatively healthy" individual and you want your business and the businesses that you love patronizing to still be around by the time the current public health crisis subsides, make a point to get out and support them (just don't forget to sanitize your hands when you get there and before you leave). By making these small adjustments, not only do we have a better chance of containing the spread of COVID-19 but also of keeping our economy, especially small businesses, intact.
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With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.
When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.
Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan
Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.
Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.
The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.
Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits
The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.
With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.
Tip 3: Start slow and strong
If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.
Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.
Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize
In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.
When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.
Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness
From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.
Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.
Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.
A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.
Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition
In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.
If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health
While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.
For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.
While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.