Five ways to boost your health at home (while following social distancing guidelines)

It’s easy to feel helpless at times like this. After all, Premier Doug Ford just this morning, declared a State of Emergency in Ontario. I for one, listened to his address and then laced up my running shoes to take my dog out for a walk, smiling at others out for walks, jogs and bike rides as our paths crossed.

We all need to do our parts right now, and following the Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidelines to help ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 is absolutely the way to go until we hear otherwise.  Even if you aren’t particularly concerned about your own health, we all know someone for whom this virus could be particularly dangerous or even deadly, and we need to ensure our public health system has the ability to meet the needs of those requiring it. Instead of feeling helpless or allowing yourself to be overcome by anxious thoughts, this is an ideal time to invest in your health and to establish some healthier habits. Here are five ways to do just this:

  1. GET SERIOUS ABOUT YOUR HEALTH – First off, if you cherish your health and believe health is the greatest wealth, carefully consider your health and lifestyle goals and what you’ll need to do to achieve them. Consider your needs now and into the future; your current health status; genetic risks, lifestyle risks, etc. Discuss them with a close family member or friend who will support you, and make an appointment with your doctor (for a few weeks from now or when social distancing guidelines are no longer in place) to discuss them, enlist their support, and for recommendations and referrals to other practitioners and supports who can help you. You’ll want to establish a baseline of your current health status against which you can measure progress going forward. You can also do things today to mark your commitment and fresh start. Tips 2-5 can help!
  2. GET MOVING – Make time to be active every day. Even if you’re someone who hits the gym regularly and has for years, you could be at risk of breaking good habits during a time like this. Instead, whether you’re new to exercise or it’s been part of your life for years, set aside time every day to be active at home or outdoors. If you have to remain indoors, consider following along to an online exercise class, listening to a favorite playlist and dancing, or doing some intervals (jumping jacks, jumping rope, push ups, sit ups, jogging on the spot… these all count) or using your stairs for a stair-climbing workout. Games of Hide and Seek, Freeze Dance, Simon Says and other active games played indoors, will keep young children moving too. If you are able to be active outdoors, walk, jog, hike, bike, and play with your kids.
  3. CLEAN YOUR HOUSE – Grab the least toxic cleaning agents that will work for the job, and start scrubbing. Rid your bathroom of mildew and mold, vacuum up the dust bunnies under the bed and in closets, launder bed linens including mattress covers and duvets and hot water. Few people like cleaning, but it counts as physical activity and a clean house makes for cleaner air to breath and a healthier environment. In fact, while you’re at it, set aside no-longer-used cleansers and chemical agents (like cans of paint and other old products) for safe disposal at a later date.
  4. COOK UP A STORM – See ya later junk food and unhealthy take-out! If you haven’t already discovered the joys and benefits of healthy cooking and tasty eating, now’s the time. Find a few easy recipes, shop for the required ingredients, enlist help from the kids or put on a favorite playlist, and fire up the stove. While making some healthy meals for yourself or your family, consider making an extra meal or two to drop off for a friend, neighbour, or elderly family member…at their front door for now.
  5. INVEST IN RELATIONSHIPS – Sometimes it takes uncertainty and strife to make us take stock of what really matters to us – and for many this includes often neglected relationships with family, friends and co-workers. Reach out, share stories, share some laughs, help and support each other while being mindful of the current social distancing guidelines (so, by phone, email, Facetime, etc.) and spend quality time with those in your home. Cook and eat together, exercise and go for walks together, watch movies as a family, do some baking, or learn a new language together online.