Get plenty of sleep during COVID-19

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 

How much water do you need?

Spring is here and temperatures are getting warmer. Are you staying hydratedDehydration can cause headaches, dizziness, and digestion issues. In addition, it may impact your memory and mood.  

Women need about 9 eight ounce cups of fluid per day and men need about 12.5 eight ounce cups of fluid per day (foods meet the rest of your fluid needs). You need more fluids than this if you have an illness (especially fever, vomiting, diarrhea), live in a hot climate, exercise, or if you are pregnant/breastfeeding. 

Another way to assess your hydration is to monitor the color of your urine. A pale straw color indicates adequate hydration. If it is a darker, amber color you will want to increase your fluid intake. 

 Here are some tips for increasing your fluid intake: 

  • Invest in a water bottle you really like. Love cold water? Look for an insulated one. Sip frequently during the day. 
  • Check in with your body regularly and ask if yourself if you’re thirsty.  
  • Make a goal of how much you need to drink a day and set an alert on your phone to remind you to drink or use an app to track your cups of fluid. 
  • Add flavor enhancers to your water such as lemon slices or cucumber. 
  • Choose water most often. Milk, juice, herbal teas or sparkling water count too. Limit sodas and energy drinks. 
  • Choose water rich foods such as watermelon, cucumber, zucchini, or grapefruit. 

Source: https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/how-much-water-do-you-need Accessed 4/6/20 

Reduce stress

We are all facing stress with the current battle against COVID19.  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 evidencebased 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 breakszoom 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: 

Supplements and Illness

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.

Be Active!

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!!

Create a schedule & routine during COVID-19

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 classtry 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 time to exercise dailyworking-out is a great outlet for stress  
  • Set regular study hours, block chunks of time to focus on project and assignments 
  • Take time for breaksgo 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.    

Stay connected during physical distancing

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 distancourselves 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, Housepartyinstagram, facebookwhatsApp 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.   

 

Science-based resources about COVID-19

If you are like the staff in Health Promotion and Wellness, you are looking for science-based information about COVID-19.  There seems to be quite a bit of misinformation in the popular media, so we have compiled a short list of science-based resources from public health experts.  You will find the number of local, national, and global confirmed cases on these sites.  If you are looking for trustworthy, up-to-date news about coronavirus from medical, public health, and infectious disease experts view Johns Hopkins University & Medicine site and the free online course by Imperial College of London.

  1. Pennsylvania Department of Health https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/
  2. Johns Hopkins University & Medicine, https://coronavirus.jhu.edu
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
  4. World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
  5.  Science Matters: Let’s Talk About COVID-19, a free course by Imperial College of London, one of the top public health research universities in the world
We wish you health and well-being!

National Nutrition Month

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.