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:
You might be seeing a lot of information on nutrition and supplements and illness. It can be confusing as what is fact and what is fiction. No one food or supplement can prevent you from getting sick, so try eating nutrient-rich foods to support your immune system.
The following nutrients play a role in the immune system and can be found in a variety of foods:
- Beta Carotene rich foods include sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, mango, broccoli and tomatoes.
- Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, berries, melons, tomatoes, bell peppers and broccoli.
- Zinc is in beef and seafood as well as wheat germ, beans, nuts and tofu.
- Probiotics are typically in cultured dairy products such as yogurt
Don’t forget to rest (aim for 7-9 hours per night), be active, and wash your hands! Stay well!
Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. How to Keep Your Immune System Healthy. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/how-to-keep-your-immune-system-healthy. April 2, 2020.
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.
The theme of this year’s National Nutrition Month is Eat Right, Bite by Bite. This theme supports everyone in their journey, highlighting the idea that every little bite is a step in the right direction. Set small goals and make gradual changes to experience cumulative healthful effects.
There are two free options in Health Promotion and Wellness to help you take steps toward creating a healthier lifestyle. One option is the nutrition wellness service provided by peer educators. The other is through the nutrition clinic. Call 814-863-0461, or login to your MyUHS account, to schedule a free appointment with a peer educator or a registered dietitian.
Many studies are finding that spending time in nature improves your fundamental health and well-being. Evidence supports the idea that nature provides a calmness that can reduce your blood pressure, improve your mood and decrease your anxiety.
Whether you take a stroll in a nearby park or venture into the woods, not only do you get a chance to exercise and enjoy the scenery, you may simultaneously restore your mental fatigue and increase your self-esteem. Being in nature can inspire your creativity.
Have you attended a Wellness Wednesday yet? See what’s happening during March in 20 IM Building. Join HealthWorks students 4:00-4:45pm for an interactive activity to help you manage your stress.
March 4 – Worry Less, Wander More
March 18 – Create a mind map your path with meditation
March 25 – Share your music