The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our life.
It has been a difficult time since the first COVID-19 case in the country. Many of us are still adjusting our life to the new normal. For example, to spend more time at work due to working from home, or are struggling to juggle both work and childcare, refrain from nearly all outdoor activities, and being separated from close friends and family members. None of these is easy.
The other challenges emerged when the government announced nationwide lockdown or intensified the movement control to combat the virus spread in the communities. The message has been made clear to all that the healthcare system is collapsing. In such a critical period, practising self-care is of utmost importance. We can do our part of giving a breather to the healthcare system and front-liners by taking care of our emotional health and overall well-being.
What Is Self-Care, And Why It Is Crucial Amid The Pandemic?
Based on the definition from World Health Organisation, self-care is your ability to promote health, prevent diseases, maintain health and to cope with illnesses with or without helps from a healthcare provider.1 Other researcher defined self-care as the self-initiated behaviour of an individual to independently perform a cadre of activities to promote good health and general well-being throughout life.2,3
Self-care practice includes nutrition, physical activity, interpersonal relationships and stress management, or any activities you do to feel healthy and good. By practising healthy eating patterns, keeping an exercise or workout routine or doing things that make you happy, you improved your quality of life. It is especially true during the pandemic when most of us spend more time with ourselves due to social isolation or movement restriction. Also, practising self-care can help alleviate the feeling of stressfulness and anxiety caused by the pandemic and prevent chronic disorders associated with high stress levels.
People living with pre-existing chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, can prevent or delay short-term and long-term complications through self-care practices, which include healthy eating (adopt a low-salt diet for hypertension patients and a low-sugar diet for diabetic patients), adherence to their medication, and maintaining of body weight through regular exercise.4 Patients with previous education or guidance from the healthcare professional can also self-monitor their blood glucose and blood pressure with the appropriate devices at home.
What Can We Do?
Everyone is unique. Therefore, the self-care routine can be different for each person. The key is to find the self-care practices that fit your health goal or a regimen that make you feel good to do it regularly.
Here are several ideas for you to start your own self-care practice.
Eat balanced and wholesome meals throughout your day.
The daily meals comprise of carbohydrates (such as whole grains, quinoa and legumes), protein (such as lean meats, fish, beans and eggs), fats (the healthy fats such as avocado, nuts and seeds) and plenty of fibre (such as fruits and vegetables) supply the body with essential nutrients to function optimally.
Eat when it is time to eat.
An unusual eating pattern like skipping breakfast, late lunch (after 3pm) and late dinner (within 2 hours before bedtime) may influence your health negatively over time.5 Study has shown that people tend to overeat at their next meal after skipping a meal.6 Not to mention that skipping meals will make you feel tired, weak, and irritable due to low sugar levels. So, make sure to take your breakfast, lunch and dinner at the right time.
Choose healthier snacks.
Snacking while binge-watching your Netflix always sounds like a good idea, especially during the lockdown period. So, the food you chose to have as your snacks matter a lot. Consider replacing the highly processed, high fat and low to no nutritional value snacks (such as potato chips, ice-cream, cookies and sweetened beverages) with fresh fruits and vegetables, oats and mixed nuts for a guilt-free snacking time.
How Nourished helps?
Go for supplements if you have a poor appetite, diet restriction, or any reasons that forbid you from getting sufficient nutrients through daily meals. In Nourished, ingredient such as Spirulina contains essential nutrients that can help you to meet nutrient needs. Nourished also offer ingredients, such as Vitamin C, herbal-based extracts, Probiotics, Digestive Enzymes and Protein Powder for those who target to improve specific health concerns.
Make exercise a part of your life.
Exercise brings vast benefits to our physical and mental health. A study showed that maintaining exercises for 2 to 8 hours a week results in a 29% to 36% lower risk of all-cause of death rate.7 If you are used to a sedentary lifestyle, adopting an exercise routine you can stick with is good to ensure better compliance. Plan it at your own pace, for example, started off with at least 30 minutes/day for 4 to 5 times a week and gradually increase the frequency or the intensity of your activities. Sooner or later, it will be a regular habit that keep you going.
How Nourished helps?
If you are looking for an energy kick before exercises or greater strength to achieve peak performance or build up your muscle and speed up the recovery, Nourished has you covered. Nourished offers sport nutrition ingredients such as the plant-based Pea Protein Isolate, Branched-chain Amino Acids (BCAA), L-carnitine and Green Coffee Extract that you can add to your daily healthy beverage, which supply additional nutrients required for an active body.
Find your peace of mind.
Our mental health matters the most during a tough time. Practising yoga is good to reduce stress, negative feelings, such as anxiety and depression, as reported by studies.8,9 Similarly, practising meditation also helps to calms the mind and hence, is beneficial for stress management. The key to finding your peace of mind is to shift your thoughts from the source of your stress and let your mind take a break by focusing on something else.
Getting sufficient good-quality sleep has everything to do with lightening up your mood and reduce your stress. A night of good sleep can also reduce your risk of developing health disorders, such as high blood pressure, heart diseases, diabetes, weight gain and others.10 Hence, you may try to avoid caffeine near your bedtime if it tends to keep you awake. Besides, you may also wind down yourself few hours before your sleep by putting away all the digital devices, such as the phone, laptop, tablet, and television. You can also try natural supplements that can help you sleep better at night.
A recent study found that waking up just an hour earlier than usual could reduce the risk of depression by 23%.11 Therefore, try adjusting your sleeping time (if you’re used to sleeping late) to ensure you get sufficient sleep and wake up earlier to kick start the day.
Positive connections can help reduce your stress and alleviate your mood. Although the pandemic has restricted physical connections, advanced technology has its way to keep all of us connected. You should make good use of the technology to build or maintain a positive relationship family members, close friends, and co-workers via a Zoom meeting or Google meets.
How Nourished helps?
Certain natural supplements can help manage stress and helps you sleep better at night. The Nourished Green Tea extract contains l-theanine, a type of amino acid that can reduce stress and anxiety as well as promote sound sleep by improving sleeping quality.12,13 Alternately, Ginseng extract is another good option that aids the body in physical and mental stress. It acts as an adaptogen that helps the body to adapt to stress and promote calmness.
Take Home Message
The self-care practice should also include good hygiene, always wear a face mask when going out, avoid going to crowded places, and engage in the vaccination program. If you have been practising self-care or keeping a daily routine that makes you feel physically and mentally well, you’re on the right track. If you aren’t, it is never too late to start now through diet and lifestyle modifications.
Perhaps in a tough time like this, the best way to protect your loved one is to first take good care of yourself.