We are all different: various backgrounds, genetic makeup, political and religious beliefs. I see different metabolisms with hundreds of varying dietary needs, sensitivities and preferences every day. But in the past three weeks, we’ve all on a global level experienced one similar feeling simultaneously and that is the feeling of uncertainty.
A little bit of uncertainty is a good thing; we need a dose or two to spice up our lives. But the level we’ve had this month takes us out of our comfort zone and creates havoc. For a lot of us, it pushes us deep into fear, worry, anxiety and stress responses. Our world has shifted and our normal routines have been disrupted almost overnight.
How do we overcome? I’ve definitely had my challenges, but what I’ve found helpful is to shift my mindset into one that supports flexibility. When I am radically open-minded, I’ve noticed that I am better equipped to navigate big, rapid swings.
I know it’s challenging, but what if we choose to change our mindset and believe that we can come out of this stronger than before? What if we let this situation guide us into new territory that will allow us to be better because of it? We can relate this to all aspects of our life, but for the purpose of this column, let’s focus here on our health.
During periods of stress and uncertainty, supporting a healthy immune system is one of the best things you can do for your body. An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine with details of the virus indicate that those who have the worst symptoms are twice as likely to have had pre-existing lung or heart problems and three times as likely to have been diabetic. We also know that obesity in general makes us vulnerable to viruses. An in-depth animal and human study demonstrates that the systemic inflammatory condition created by deep belly fat results in a “blunted and delayed” immune response to virus attacks. Recovery is also significantly longer and those with breathing challenges, such as sleep apnea, as a result of the weight on their chest are more at risk. These are the facts. The good news is that small steps can lead to big improvements in our health.
Revamp your nutrition. It’s tough when you’re stuck at home. Pretty much all of our appetites are affected by oscillating emotions, hence the trending “Quarantine 15” (weight gain fears during lockdown). Eating clean, minimizing sugar intake, maintaining your active lifestyle and practicing stress management are key to supporting a healthy, strong body. We all now recognize that taking our health as the priority has never been so important.Sleep quantity and quality are critical to your immune system. Even a single night of short sleep can reduce your virus-fighting cells by 50%. Give yourself a dedicated eight hours of sleep every night and practice good sleep hygiene. Create a new routine. Establish a new routine that focuses on you as the priority so you can better help those in your family and your community who are in need. This is a perfect time to establish new habits and behaviors that will better serve you when life “ramps” back up into full fear. In these next few weeks, look to establish a strong foundation to support the rush of recovery that is to come.Let’s join together. Even though we are living in a world that is temporarily socially distant, we can commit to one another that we won’t let fear and uncertainty drive us backward. Instead, we continue to move forward in a way that helps ourselves, our family and our community. Let’s continue to support one another and focus on the good. Let’s look at a slowed world as a time to refocus ourselves, a time to give to others in kindness and compassion, and a time to gain strength and prepare for the world’s recovery that is right around the corner.I think this quote is fitting: “You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust the sails.”
Let’s all stock up on Dramamine, hit the seas and hold on tight as we steer the helm!
Ashley Lucas has a doctorate in sports nutrition and chronic disease. She is also a registered dietitian nutritionist. She is the founder and owner of PHD Weight Loss and Nutrition, offering weight management and wellness services in the Four Corners. She can be reached at 764-4133.