Healthy lifestyle more important than ever

Paula Reece

The importance of living a healthy lifestyle isn’t new news — we all know the importance of self-care. But during these challenging times, living a healthy lifestyle has become more difficult for many people. As daily routines changed, so did many of our healthy routines.

Since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, our daily routines aren’t really routine. We’ve changed our work habits, our shopping habits and even our workout habits. The longer the pandemic continues, the harder it becomes to stay centered in the lives to which we were accustomed.

Self-care is more important than ever. It takes discipline and action to make sure we take good care of ourselves. That includes exercise, sleep and nutrition as well as reducing stress and finding ways to maintain our social lives.

Exercise and movement are essential to self-care.  Whether it’s a walk around the block, hiking or getting back to the gym, our bodies are meant to move. Getting the heart pumping, toning and strengthening our muscles and stretching for increased flexibility keep our bodies healthy. That improves our ability to fight off weight gain, illnesses and disease.

Summertime is a great time to eat healthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables are available in abundance and packed full of vitamins and antioxidants to boost immunity.  While routines and diets have changed, it’s never  too late to get back on the healthy food train.  Remember that processed foods have a direct link to our gut health. Eating fresh, immunity boosting foods improve health inside and out.

We’re tired. Yet, sleep still eludes many of us.  The important role of sleep in our overall wellbeing is often underestimated. Lack of sleep affects metabolism, memory and the immune system. Establishing a sleep routine offers an effective way to improve the quantity and quality of sleep. Keeping bedtime hours the same every night; avoiding alcohol, heavy meals, sugar and tobacco before bed; limiting screen time; and making getting ready for bed a routine all foster a blissful night’s sleep.

We can’t talk about restful sleep without addressing a major challenge to health — stress and fear. A little stress can be motivating. Too much stress can be debilitating.  Because of our new normal that’s not at all normal, we’re afraid of the unknown, our jobs and financial situations, our children and school and getting sick. We might not be able to fix this, but we can find ways to deal with stress. Meditation that focuses on breathing, relaxing and renewal can be helpful and therapeutic. Keeping stress and fear compartmentalized prevent us from feeling overwhelmed. Limit time on social media, news and engaging in conversations that aren’t productive, stimulating and healthy.

One of the most important items that’s been largely overlooked has been the effects of the pandemic on the social aspects of our lives. We’re human and therefore social. When we could no longer gather at gyms, restaurants and events, it took a toll. Self-care is about helping, engaging and socializing with those we care about and who care about us.

As circumstances look a bit more normal, we realize how important it is to our health to be together through all this — preferably masked and socially distanced,  but still together. We need each other to fill all the healthy parts of our lives.