Get Your Health Back on Track:
10 Post-Pandemic Tips
COVID-19 continues its influence even as we move forward with post-pandemic recovery. Some COVID-19 survivors, including kids, still face long-lasting symptoms, including fatigue, lung problems, joint pain, brain fog and other issues.
In the U.S., the pandemic greatly affected mental and physical health, even among those who didn’t get COVID-19.
Burgeoning mental health issues stemming from the pandemic continue to affect those of all ages in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 2020 had the highest number of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. within a single year.
Additionally, physical health in the U.S. has been severely affected, as mandated quarantines initially cut access to preventative healthcare and services. What’s more, 2020 indicates the first-ever U.S. decline in life expectancy years thought since post-World War II. Early analysis by the CDC indicates 2020’s mortality percentage may equal that of 1918, which included World War I soldier fatalities plus Influenza deaths.
Life expectancy at birth for the total U.S. population was 77.8 years in 2020, a decline of 1 year from 78.8 in 2019. For males, life expectancy at birth was 75.1 in 2020, a decline of 1.2 years from 2019. For females, life expectancy declined to 80.5 years in 2020, or a .9 year decrease from 2019.
Your Capital Women’s Care team wants to help you get your health back on track post-pandemic with important tips to reestablish healthy habits so you can enjoy a long, quality life.
10 Habits to
Reestablish Your Health
- Schedule preventative medical appointments and follow-up visits. If you’re overdue for a yearly physical or well-woman exam, call your practitioner and schedule them. You should also schedule preventative eye and dental care and those appointments involving previously diagnosed chronic conditions. Schedule the most important appointments first. If you’re reticent about in-person appointments, ask your practitioner if virtual visits are still an option.
- Get screening tests. You may need or be remiss in getting a mammogram, colonoscopy, skin cancer screening test, or other test. It’s important to catch up on screening tests, as they can detect cancers early, providing you the best prognosis and outcome should you be diagnosed.
- Get (and keep) moving. Exercise is an integral component of optimal health. If you’ve fallen away from your exercise routine, begin with 60 minutes of exercise doing something you enjoy – walking, bicycling, yoga, interval aerobics, and hiking are all great ways to get moving and keep your body and mind healthy. Even just a 20-30 minute walk every day can have a big impact. You should strive to achieve and maintain 150 minutes of weekly exercise activity for maximum health benefits.
- Eat a healthy diet. Be conscious of what you eat, eliminating foods that are high in fat, sugar and sodium (like red meat and processed foods.) Add a variety of whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fiber, water, lean proteins like fish and chicken, and low-fat, protein-rich dairy like Greek yogurt into your daily diet. Make sure to eat breakfast daily and pack or prepare your lunch to ensure you eat healthfully midday. Avoid high-calorie (and often high-fat) fast foods as a quick lunch or dinner option and marinate lean chicken or fish to grill with mixed fresh vegetables instead for a satisfying, healthier meal alternative. Eat dinner with family each evening at an established time to institute evening meal routine that staves off late-night snacking and bingeing.
- Reduce stress levels. Take time to get outdoors no matter the weather to increase feelings of well-being and eliminate stress. Practice mindfulness and stress management techniques. Eliminate packed schedules. Take time each day to focus on 3 things in your life for which you are grateful. Allow yourself to pursue solitary interests or hobbies without guilt. Give yourself time for yourself daily, whether it’s a 10-minute mini-facial or an hour spent doing a favorite hobby.
- Rebuild meaningful social ties. Make a point to get together with friends and family you’ve missed seeing during pandemic isolation. Get involved in your community and participate in activities or events you’re passionate about. Start a book club or join a gardening or painting group to meet new people who share similar interests. Isolation takes its toll mentally, with feelings of loneliness contributing to susceptibility to depression and even Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
- Take stock of how you’re feeling each day. Monitor your mindset each day to make certain you are moving forward. If you find yourself often feeling anxious and fearful, make a point to contact a mental health professional. They can offer you valuable guidance on overcoming your fear and anxiety so you can do things and activities previously enjoyed.
- Build up and boost your brain power. Doing new things keeps your mind sharp and can ward off dementia as you age. Daily exercise and enjoying intellectual activities like reading or playing games are proven to boost brain power. Eat just 1 salad of leafy greens daily and you’ll ward off cognitive decline. Incorporate dark-colored berries into your diet which helps fight inflammation and adds brain protection. Use berries in a smoothie or as a topping for plain yogurt as a healthy treat. Replace sugary beverages with green tea to promote cognitive functions. Try a new activity weekly, whether it’s listening to new music, enjoying a lecture or museum exhibit, or learning a new craft. Lifelong learning is associated with improved brain health and staying mentally active is linked to the delayed onset of cognitive decline.
- Nurture your heart health. Make sure to brush and floss teeth regularly, as doing so eliminates bacteria released into the bloodstream which can cause inflammation and heart damage. Replace saturated fats with healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) which can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Walk away cigarette temptations to quit smoking and increase heart health. Add potassium via bananas into your daily diet to help offset some of sodium’s harmful effects on blood pressure. Add bananas to breakfast cereal to nighttime desserts to PB&J sandwiches. Additional potassium-rich foods include sweet potatoes, tomatoes and oranges.
- Get your daily dose of ZZZZZZZZ’s. Establish nighttime rituals and routine to help prepare your body for a good night’s sleep, ideally 7 to 8 hours for adults. Eliminate technology use at least 1 hour prior to retiring to encourage relaxation and rest. Change linens weekly to avoid allergens which can disrupt sleep. Avoid ambient noise (snoring partner and traffic) by running a fan as white noise encourages a restful night’s sleep and avoids daytime fatigue and sluggishness. Face your alarm clock toward the wall and be sure your bedroom is completely dark to encourage your body’s melatonin production, a hormone which encourages sleep.
Remember to be kind to yourself as you establish realistic goals to get your lifestyle back on track. Begin by making healthy habits a daily lifestyle choice. Set up weekly or monthly goals that are concrete so you can monitor and see changes. Making small, measurable changes provide a firm foundation to establishing lasting healthy habits.
Your Capital Women’s Care team is here for you if you have questions or concerns regarding reestablishing healthy habits or any other women’s health issue. Our team of expert health professionals combined with our unparalleled comprehensive health services help you achieve and maintain a long, quality life.