Staying Healthy at Home
While most of us have likely grown more accustomed to our current virtual way of life in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new semester brings new challenges. Balancing a schedule that may contain online, hybrid, or in-person classes, as well as work and other commitments, can be overwhelming and may cause you to lose focus on maintaining healthy habits. Here are some tips and resources to help you stay physically and mentally fit (without even having to leave your house)!
- MEAL PLAN & PREP - Planning your meals for the week in advance can save time, save money, and save you the stress of having to come up with a healthy meal idea after a long day of school or work! Set aside time on the weekends to plan out your recipes and grocery list for the week ahead. Mealime is an app that allows you to select recipes and automatically creates a grocery list for you! It also provides the option to send the grocery list to Kroger, Walmart, or Instacart for contactless pick-up or delivery. If you know you have a busy week ahead, prepare recipes or parts of recipes in advance to cut down on cooking time later in the week. Check out more tips on meal prepping here!
- FOCUS ON VARIETY - A healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy (or calcium-fortified dairy alternatives)! MyPlate is a good reminder of what a balanced meal looks like on your plate. The basics: make half your plate fruits & veggies, prioritize whole grains, vary your protein sources, and switch to low-fat or fat-free dairy products. MyPlate can also be applied to vegetarian diets. Consider what you usually eat in a day; are you including all of the food groups? If not, download the StartSimplewithMyPlate app to set goals and get tips on how to meet them!
- PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING - When working or doing school from home, it’s easy to mindlessly snack all day long as you sit in front of the computer. Mindful eating is the practice of becoming aware of hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to eat. Essentially, eat when your body tells you it’s hungry, and stop eating when your body tells you it’s full. One way to tune in to these signals, especially when sitting at home all day, is to avoid multitasking-- make eating time just for eating! You can also download Ate, a mindful eating food journal app that allows you to track what you ate (through pictures!), why you ate, and how it made you feel.
Physical Activity Tips
- WORKOUT AT HOME - If your gym is closed or you are running short on time, working out at home is a great option. There are lots of great workout videos online that can show you how to exercise if you are not sure how to exercise at home. Not having exercise equipment does not have to get in your way! You can try bodyweight exercises. The great thing about bodyweight exercises is that they don't require any equipment, are easily adjustable to many fitness levels, and it’s free.
- VIRTUAL WORKOUTS - If you are looking for fitness classes during the COVID pandemic but don't yet feel comfortable going to the gym, try the virtual workouts at the GSU fitness center. This includes things like Circuit Training, Core Conditioning, and Gym Yoga. These are a great way to add variety to your exercise routine.
- POST WORKOUT RECOVERY - Eating about 15 to 25 g protein within 0-2 hours after a workout is perfect for maximizing your body’s response to exercise. This is important for two reasons. The first is because after exercising your body is going to need extra protein to rebuild muscle tissue. The second reason is that when you eat a high protein meal within 2 hours it signals to your body to make more dramatic changes because it has the materials it needs. Remember protein does not have to come from a shake; you can get a high protein meal from a 3 oz serving of fish or chicken.
Stress Management Tips
Eating healthy and exercising can help significantly in reducing stress levels. Still, there are some additional steps you can take to relieve stress in these trying times. The following are in no particular order. Try one, a couple, or all of these techniques to help reduce your stress levels.
- KEEP A JOURNAL - Taking a few minutes each morning or night to jot down what is causing you stress can do wonders. Consider starting with these prompts: What do I want to accomplish today/tomorrow? What are three things I am grateful for? What did I do well today? What could I have done better?
- KEEP IN TOUCH - Studies have shown that chronic loneliness can release the stress hormone cortisol. Loneliness is the most significant contributor to depression and anxiety in adults and may even be a risk factor for developing chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Merely calling a friend or family member and asking them how their day is going can help to relieve these feelings.
- GET A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP - sleep is a powerful stress reducer. Getting the recommended eight-to-nine hours of sleep each night can improve concentration, regulate your mood, and sharpen your focus, allowing you to cope with life's stressors more effectively. Try these tips to prepare for a restful night's sleep: reduce caffeine intake, especially in the late afternoon, "unplug" from technology, read a book, and take a hot shower or bath 30-60 minutes before bed.
This list is not all-inclusive. Other tips for reducing stress include: burning a scented candle or diffusing essential oils, meditation or deep-breathing, listening to music, practicing mindfulness and yoga, learning to say no, avoiding procrastination, and last but not least, laughing.
Check out these virtual events to help you destress and regain some focus.
Written By: Samuel Bullard, Will Conrad, and Sydney Kayler