Five Tips for Staying Sane, Healthy, Fit and Beautiful While You're Safe at Home

By now, you are all aware of how highly infectious and transmissible viruses are and practicing preventive strategies of social distancing, hand washing, sanitizing surfaces, and staying at home. While a few days of staying at home, away from work or school, initially seemed easy to navigate, even fun, as we face this new reality, there are definite challenges that accompany our day to day activities conducted in ways we were not prepared for. Many of you are creating an efficient and productive home work environment while adapting to having kids at home and having to become their homeschooling teachers.
Others, living alone, have to deal with social isolation and loneliness. If you have elderly relatives, the mere stress of helping them manage without direct contact can be overwhelming, as you are frequently sandwiched between two generations that need your help and what you can give them is limited by adverse circumstances. 
So, what lifestyle measures can we put in place at home to stay sane, healthy and fit; and most importantly, help refrain from getting sick?

1. Create your “new normal routine”

Just because you don’t need to rush out the door by a set time every morning doesn’t mean that you should allow yourself to keep hitting the snooze button repeatedly. Set a wake up time, definitely allowing yourself for some additional sleep which is so important for stress management and healing. Aim for 7 to 8 hrs a night and keep your bedtime and wake up time consistent. Allow specific times for activities that you would normally do in the course of your day and adhere to that schedule. 

2. Start your day with exercise

Now that the gyms, parks and trails are closed it is important to turn your home into your workout space. Don’t worry, you don’t need to order a Peloton bike, although it’s great to have an in-home gym. Here are my in-home workout essentials: a yoga mat, set of weights (5 and 10 lbs or wrist and ankle bands with adjustable weight inserts), a set of stretch bands, a balance ball and a screen - your laptop or smart TV, even a phone will do. There are so many free workouts you can download or you can subscribe to a virtual gym. Whatever it is that you chose to do, just do it!
Here are a couple of suggestions that don’t even require any guidance:
Learn to hold the following poses for 90 seconds -
  • wall sit
  • plank (or modified plank if your wrists cannot withstand the regular plank)
  • cobra
  • bilateral 30 degree leg lift 
Those four poses will work every single muscle in your body and the whole routine takes six minutes! These are examples of isotonic exercises. My favorite aerobic routine is a 12 min HIIT (high intensity interval training) routine consisting of intervals of 60 seconds of exercise followed by 60 seconds of rest. You can engage in any exercise from jumping jacks to lunges, just do them at your highest level of intensity. If you are unable to tolerate high intensity activity, simply walk in place or around your home to fun music.
Aerobic exercise is extremely important to reboot your liver’s ability to provide support to the immune system, and optimize detoxification. Twenty minutes of aerobic exercise per day is the minimal amount that you should aim for.

3. Take time for self care

This may sound patronizing but it is not meant to be: Shower! Put on clothes! Use quality skin care products! Staying at home can lead to deterioration of habits that we typically do with automated precision. Promise yourself to stay true to them despite the fact that your office is now only a short walk to the computer and even on days when the meetings are not conducted via video conferencing. And on those Zoom conference days, and every day, put on real clothes, not just the top with jewelry while you're really in your PJ bottoms!!! Maintain your routine. While taking a holiday from make up may be great, don’t take a holiday from regular AM and PM skin care. Actually this time may offer an opportunity to learn how to simplify and purify your regimen with high quality result oriented, science based products.

4. Eat healthy, rainbow colored foods

Standard American diet high in animal protein, sugar, dairy and processed foods is highly acidic. The deadly coronavirus needs an acidic environment for its replication. So, unfortunately what Americans eat provides an ideal culture medium for the virus. The best way to alkalinize your cells (increase the intracellular pH) is by eating mostly plant based whole food diet. That does not mean just salads! Learn to prepare healthy hearty soups and complete meals in 30 minutes or less, using fresh ingredients.
Many of you are finding the need to break up the monotony of your day or find comradery with friends facing similar challenges at home by sharing a virtual “happy hour”. If your liver is compromised due to alcohol consumption or fatty liver (which is a common complication of overweight and obesity), it will be slow to assist the immune system in reducing viral load early in the infection process. The best way to assist the liver in its immune support function is to discontinue or decrease alcohol and eat lots of greens. This cleanses the liver and optimizes its function. However, even those of us who have been eating organic foods for years are likely to need a boost of their immune system and support of their gut under the stressful circumstances we are all facing.
Our simple recommendations include use of the following supplements:
1. Vitamin D3/K 5000 IU per day assists in immune support and has been proven to be anti viral.
2. Zinc 20 mg per day reduces viral replication.
3. Vitamin C 2,000 - 4,000 mg per day is a potent anti-oxidant which assists the body in anti-viral activity.
5. Relax and practice mindfulness
Days at home can be extremely long as one role blends into the next and there is no decompression time between the office and our second job at home. Stay at home moms are finding their routine seriously altered by everyone’s presence. Empty nesters find their nests filled back with college children who are stressing over studying at home and being stuck with their parents! Engage your family in sharing home chores and engage them in meal preparation. Talk about your respective daily activities, triumphs and challenges during a joint meal instead of eating in solitude or in front of TV.
Designate some family and personal time related to relaxation - teach everyone simple breathing exercises: inhale to the count of three, hold for the count of two and exhale to the count of three. Practice this for 5 minutes and you have engaged your parasympathetic nervous system responsible for relaxing the body and mind and you will soon recognize its benefits. Do it as often as you need during the day under stressful circumstances.
Those of you who are experienced meditators, enforce the practice and share it with others. Find time to read, listen to music and try to take a break from social media or the internet at least an hour before going to bed. Do catch up on your favorite shows but don’t stay up past your routine bedtime just because you can sleep in. Importance of sleep cannot be overemphasized. Deep sleep relaxes the body and neutralizes stress hormones which are inflammatory and immunosuppressive.
It is important to recognize that these times of isolation can be particularly difficult for those with anxiety and depression. Supporting a friend or a loved one by frequently checking in with them will be greatly appreciated.
It is in times like this crisis that we realize the power of community and the collective conscious efforts to ameliorate the burden of a global highly infectious illness. One person at a time, one family at a time, one community at a time suppressing our own social habits and complying with the orders to accept the temporary new normal, we have a real chance of making a difference and saving lives.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes as I wish you to remain at peace and be well:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

- Margaret Mead

Dr. Vesna Skul Dr. Skul is a graduate of Rush Medical College in Chicago, is a board-certified specialist in Internal Medicine, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Rush University. She is also fellowship-trained and board-certified in anti-aging and regenerative medicine. Her career has been devoted to caring for women in all phases of their lives.

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