Covid-19 has disrupted all of our lives. Instead of focusing on our careers, schedules and routines, we are focused on the spread of the virus, climbing death tolls and the shortage of resources. What we also see is that the virus is affecting people differently. The majority of people will have mild, manageable symptoms, whereas the more vulnerable can end up in critical condition, or may not recover at all.
It’s in times like these, when health and sickness are in the forefront of our minds, that we really need to take a hard look at how we have been prioritizing our bodies and immune systems. It can be easy to put our own health on the back burner when we are busy. Sometimes, it takes a crisis to force us to reassess, re-center and make the changes that we have always known we’ve needed to make for ourselves.
No matter the state of your health, or the habits of your past, you can make simple adjustments today that will have a positive impact on your future quality of life. Here are some of the areas of your life that I feel are important to evaluate and seek to improve as we move into our “new reality”.
I’ll start with one key variable to a healthy body that I believe is of utmost importance-nutrition. While there are so many diets with devotees who swear by the results they produce, these diets are not always recommended in terms of long-term health effects.
However, there are a few basic nutritional elements to keep in mind for a healthy, well-rounded diet that focuses on overall health and up-keep for your immune system. Here are some ways to keep your body and mind healthy through nutrition:
Take a walk! There are many ways that regular exercise may help to increase your immunity to certain illnesses. It is theorized that the increase of blood flow may improve your body’s ability to rid itself of certain bacterial and viral toxins and allow you to circulate WBC’s (white blood cells) more rapidly to detect illness. The rise in body temperature may also have a beneficial effect on limiting the activity of bacteria and viruses.
Finally, exercise has been shown to reduce cortisol levels and decreasing this stress hormone may protect you against illness. So get physical – but don’t overdo it. Excessive exercise may have the opposite effect.
Make sure to get your Z’s. There are many important bodily processes that take place while you are asleep. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night keeps your Cytokine levels at an optimal level. Cytokines are proteins that target infections in your body, and when you deprive yourself of sleep, the amount of cytokines your body produces drastically declines. This makes you more susceptible to disease.
Adequate sleep also reduces cortisol, the stress hormone we mentioned earlier. So make sure you are getting good, quality sleep. If you snore, or have trouble sleeping, consider seeking medical help to get you back on track.
Stay positive. This may not seem as important as the aforementioned recommendations, but it truly may be one of the most important aspects for overall health. There is strong evidence that what you think and believe can affect your physiology. This is the whole premise behind the ‘placebo-effect’, which is when someone has a beneficial response to a ‘water pill’ just because they thought they were taking a drug. So, try to limit your exposure to negative messaging on TV and online, and try not to focus on what might happen.
Staying positive in a time that is filled with uncertainty and fear is easier said than done, but the benefits of practicing positivity and focusing on mental well-being will far outway the effort expended. We already mentioned how adequate sleep and exercise can reduce stress. Other practices like yoga, meditation and prayer can also help.
Other things you can do are to focus only on the things that are in your control; connect with friends and loved ones (even if it’s virtually), and verbalize to yourself the things in your life that you are grateful for on a daily basis (daily affirmations). Remember, “this too shall pass” and it is overwhelmingly likely that you will be just fine on the other side of this difficult time.
So, use this time to reassess how you have treated your most precious assets, your body and mind. Drop the habits that haven’t served you, and work on maintaining current healthy habits and implementing new ones that you’ve never tried before.
Seize every opportunity to Smile
Dr. Kashyap and the Matthews Family Dentistry Team
If would like to discuss concerns about your dental health or are experiencing a dental emergency, please schedule an appointment with our office today, via our new Virtual Visit Platform.
Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that the opinions here are of my own and are provided for informational purposes only. You should consult with a physician before starting any exercise, diet or nutritional routine, especially if you are pregnant, medically compromised or have preexisting health conditions. The information should not be misconstrued as personal medical advice.