While there are no specific foods or supplements that have been proven to reduce the risk of acute infections like COVID-19 we do know that eating a healthy diet is vital to a strong immune system. Below are tips and resources to help you eat healthfully and safely during this difficult time. Incorporate what you can and remember to be extra kind to yourself as we navigate this unprecedented period.
- Make healthy choices. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and oils. Limit processed foods high in salt, fat, or sugar. Explore MyPlate for more guidance on food choices and portion sizes.
- Include plenty of immune supporting nutrients such as Beta Carotene, vitamin C, Zinc, vitamin D, probiotics, and protein. Learn more about these nutrients and how to keep your immune-system-healthy.
- Maintain a regular eating routine. Typically, this will include 3 meals and 1-3 snacks each day. Take a break to eat and dine away from your primary workspace.
- Plan out meals for the week. Make a list for everything you’ll need for at least a week. “Shop” from your cupboard, fridge and freezer first. Try to buy everything you need in one trip to minimize exposure. Getting groceries during quarantine offers additional suggestions.
- Choose wisely when ordering takeout or delivery. It will cost less and you will likely eat healthier by preparing foods at home, however we can all use a break from cooking on occasion. Use these tips for ordering takeout/delivery for recommendations.
- Consider sharing meal ideas, recipes or even cooking virtually via Skype, Zoom, or Facetime with friends and family. Create a cooking challenge using only ingredients in your home.
- Drink plenty of water vs. sodas, juices, and sports drinks. Be aware it is common to reach for food when you might be thirsty.
- Set your environment up for success. If you are working in your kitchen, perhaps find a space further away from food. Consider keeping certain foods out of the house, especially if you feel out of control when you eat them.
- Check in with your body before grabbing a snack. Ask yourself “Do I want to eat because I’m hungry or am I bored, stressed, annoyed or lonely? Prep healthy snacks ahead of time to keep on hand. Pair a fruit or vegetable with a protein source such as raw veggies with hummus or dates with nut butter.
Find additional information and resources by visiting the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website: Nutrition articles, tips, video and activities.
Being well rested is critical to one’s health, wellbeing and ability to navigate the demands of life. Sleep has an impact on everything from your mood and ability to regulate your emotions to the strength of your immune system and your capacity to remember, pay attention and learn. Not getting enough sleep can come at a cost to your ability to function well throughout the day. Both increased stress and shifts in our routines during COVID-19 have the potential to disrupt our sleep and lead to exhaustion. Layer in the fact that you are likely spending more time online, in zoom classrooms, and other platforms that can drain your energy. Now is an important time to strategize ways to make sure you are getting enough sleep. Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you get the daily sleep and rest you need.
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule, go to sleep & wake at roughly the same time daily
- Create a bedtime routine, this will signal your brain that it is time to wind down
- Engage in calming activities prior bed, yoga, meditation, reading, etc.
- Reduce screen time for at least two hours prior to going to bed, exposure to blue light from screens stimulates your brain and can make it difficult to fall asleep
- Limit watching news before bed, the combination of blue light and news updates can increase anxiety and stress making it hard to wind down
- Charge your cell phone in a room other than where you sleep, sound and light coming from notifications can disrupt sleep during the night
Here are a few additional resources to help with improving your sleep:
- Looking for more information on how sleep impacts your body and mind? Click here
- Worries about corona virus keeping you up at night? Find helpful tips here
- Zoom fatigue taking a toll on your energy? Find advice & tips here & here
We are all facing stress with the current battle against COVID–19. Stress is a normal part of life, but amidst the uncertainty and chaos that has resulted from this invisible threat, you might find your feelings of stress on the rise. Now is an important time to implement evidence–based strategies to reduce stress and relieve anxiety. Below are a few strategies that can help. These practices can also become healthy daily habits that improve your resilience as you face future challenges.
- Meditate, meditation & mindfulness practices can help reduce stress & anxiety
- Practice gratitude, reflect on what went well in your day & what you are grateful for
- Exercise, physical exercise releases endorphins which aid in reducing stress
- Take breaks, zoom fatigue is real, so be sure to build in down time offline
- Give back, finding ways to help others will boost your mood
- Stick to a schedule & routine, this will give your day structure & reduce anxiety
Here are a few additional resources to help you through these times:
Daily exercise is a great way to help maintain your mental and physical health. Regular physical activity can reduce your stress and improve your mood. With national stay at home orders currently stretching through the end of April it is important to consider creative new ways to bring physical activity to your day. Thankfully, in the past few weeks, we have seen the number of online exercise classes and offerings rapidly expand. Many private gyms, clubs, recreation and yoga centers have pivoted and moved in person classes to online platforms. Now the classes that you loved can be accessed from your home. If group exercise was never your thing but you are missing the daily exercise that comes from walking across campus or biking from your apartment to class, there are many other ways to move your body and stay healthy during this time. Below are some tips and suggestions to help you get moving during this time of physical distancing.
- Build in time to exercise and move your body daily
- Find an accountability partner to keep you motivated
- Take free classes offered through Campus Rec and the Rec Movement Challenge
- Check with your gym to see if they have moved classes online
- Choose an activity you will enjoy and stick with it
- Take a 30 minute walk or bike ride
- Enjoy free virtual yoga & meditation classes through Health Promotion and Wellness
- Aim for 30 minutes of activity at least 5 days per week
- Host a zoom dance party!
Stay home, be safe and move your body!!
To reduce the spread of the Coronavirus we have all been forced to make significant changes in our day to day living as most states have implemented stay at home orders. With so many changes it can be overwhelming to make sense of how to organize your time. The in-person meetings, social commitments, events and programs that once provided structure to the day have fallen away. Now more than ever it is important to take the time to create a schedule and routine that will provide order to an otherwise chaotic time. Developing new structured routines will keep you motivated and engaged. Structured schedules can help you focus, provide purpose, prevent procrastination, and protect you from burnout. If you don’t already keep a weekly or daily calendar now is a great time to start. Here are some suggestions about what to include in your schedule and how to approach your day so that you stay engaged, organized and healthy:
- Get ready for the day as if you are going to class, try not to stay in your PJs all day
- Set small goals for each day, keep yourself accountable and moving forward daily
- Organize your day around your class schedule, Fixed meetings provide structure
- Build in a time to exercise daily, working-out is a great outlet for stress
- Set regular study hours, block chunks of time to focus on project and assignments
- Take time for breaks, go for a walk, get outside, give yourself some downtime
- Set designated mealtimes, don’t mindlessly snack throughout the day
- Find time for self-care, mindfulness & meditation can help reduce stress & anxiety
- Make time to connect with friends & family, zoom, text, email, facetime, snapchat
- Maintain regular sleep cycles, go to sleep & wake at roughly the same time daily
Now that you have some tips and ideas about how to create a schedule and build routine into your day you can get started in creating what will work for you. To create your schedule and daily to do list you can use online scheduling tools and apps, a paper planner or even the most basic supplies will work, a blank page from your notebook. Sometimes keeping things simple is best.
As you shift to remote online learning and engage in physical distancing it is important to find ways to stay connected. We all need to find new ways to maintain and strengthen our connections and relationships with family, friends, classmates, faculty, co-workers and neighbors. It is a critical time to support one another through the challenges of uncertainty, fear and isolation. While we are physically distancing from one another we want to be sure that we do not emotionally distance ourselves from one another.
So what can you do to stay connected?
- Reach out to others daily through text, email, phone calls, or video chats
- Attend class, students & faculty are building community and connection online
- Check to see if the student orgs you participate in are hosting zoom meetings
- Set up a study group that meets regularly on zoom
- Plan a movie night with friends and watch/chat with Netflix Party
- Invite friends to a game night on zoom and play charades, Pictionary or trivia
- Host a hangout and just chat on zoom, google hangouts, Voxer, Houseparty, instagram, facebook, whatsApp or other social platform
- Organize a meetup on your favorite gaming platform
We need connection more now than ever. Look for ways to connect, engage and build your community.