In times of high stress and uncertainty, it’s easy to let our routines and healthy habits fall to the wayside. But if we let anxiety and stress overwhelm us, our health could suffer. This is the opposite of what your body and mind need! Let’s talk about some easy ways to focus on nutrition and mental health during overwhelming times or a crisis.
It may be tempting to stock up and binge on non-perishables such as chips, cookies and crackers, but these are mostly void of nutritional value. A consistently nutritious diet (with a few treats here and there) is critical for maintaining bodyweight, avoiding illness, and minimizing stress. Here are some food choices to focus on:
- Healthy fats: avocados, eggs, nuts for satiety and mood regulation
- Lean proteins: help to balance and boost serotonin levels
- Bananas: rich in B vitamins for nervous system function
- Citrus fruits: shown to decrease stress; Vitamin C boosts immunity
- Dark, leafy greens: regulate cortisol and blood pressure
If you’re spending more time at home with your family, now is a great time to try new foods and recipes. Coming together to create a meal is a perfect way to bond and stay connected.
If your local gym, fitness center, or group class isn’t accessible, you don’t need to forfeit your physical activity efforts. When you keep with your exercise routine—even if the activity looks different—you’re helping your body and mind. If you don’t have access to your favorite instructors or equipment, try these at home:
- Take daily walks around your house or neighborhood
- Use trails for hiking and safe roads for running
- Strength train using bodyweight or items around the house
- Take advantage of streaming apps or social media for home workouts
Keeping your body moving lowers stress and risk of illnesses and maintains your bodyweight, all of which are essential to your health. Don’t forget that yard work and other household chores also get your body moving!
A healthy diet and exercise are essential, but your mental health is just as important especially in times of unease. If you’re having anxious thoughts and feelings, reacting to stress in a negative way, and are having trouble sleeping, then your mental health may need your attention.
Try some of the following when you’re stressed or anxious:
- Step outside: fresh air and Vitamin D are good for boosting mood
- Deep breathing: focused, mindful breathing eases anxiety and stress
- Meditation: consistent practice can keep your mind calm and centered
- Stretching: loosens muscles and brings awareness to any tension
There are many ways to address your mental health, some may work for you and some may not. This is okay! Find what works and adopt them into your routine.
Additionally, getting proper sleep is vital to your overall health. When we are asleep, our body is restoring muscles from exercise, digesting the meals we’ve enjoyed, and improving our memory and cognition.
Adapting to a new routine in a time of stress may take some time. Be consistent and patient with yourself. Keeping your body and mind healthy are the best things you can do in a time of uncertainty.
If stress or anxiety is impacting your day-to-day life, reach out to a medical professional right away.