It has been slightly over a year since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) a pandemic. It is hard to imagine how different our lives are today compared to the March 2020. Some of us have achieved some level of normalcy by returning to in-person work, while others are still working from home. You may have even received a vaccine by now and are able to hug loved ones or eat at your favorite restaurant.
One thing is for sure, time has changed us all and now we must learn to live our new normal. Part of this process is regaining our health after living through a pandemic.
Staying Up to Date on Regular Medical Care
Some people opted to put off medical appointments during the pandemic due to fear of Covid-19. A poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Foundation, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public health found that 1 in 5 households missed crucial medical care or had to delay care during the pandemic. (1) However, experts are recommending that individuals stop postponing crucial doctors’ visits including cancer screenings, chronic disease follow ups, mental health services, and sexual health maintenance. As a first step to regaining your health this year, it is important to touch base with your primary care physician and specialists to determine what screenings and care you need. A lack of management of chronic diseases and skipping necessary medical screenings can lead to significant health problems in the future.
Creating a Daily Health Routine
As mentioned previously, our daily life has changed dramatically over the past year. Due to the closure of gyms and stay-at-home requirements, many of us had no gyms to access and over indulged in comfort foods and alcohol. These unhealthy coping responses may have been a result of the stress experienced living through a pandemic. However, unhealthy coping behaviors such as consumption of of high fat foods and substance abuse, can lead to serious disease risks and outcomes.
Therefore, it is vital we start regaining our health by developing a daily health routine to overcome some of the unhealthy habits we developed over the pandemic. Some strategies to get back on track include:
1) Creating a health goal. Maybe you want to start exercising again and want to improve your cardiovascular health. Start small and work your way up. Maybe you have decided you have been consuming more alcohol than you would like. Create a moderate drinking goal to cut down on your daily and weekly alcohol consumption.
2) Write an action plan. The best way to stay on top of your health is to plan. Write out your action plan for the week. Incorporate time for exercise, meditation or stress management techniques, and time to prepare and pack healthy meals. You can be as detailed as you want. The key is to make sure your action plan works for you and inspires you to achieve your health goals.
3) Find support. Social support is always a great way to maintain healthy behaviors. Right now, you still may not be able to go to the gym with friends or host healthy eating nights, but you have learned how to communicate with technology this past year. Utilize your newly found technology skills to build out your social support system. Reach out to friends via text or facetime to receive support in attaining your health goals.
Right now is the time to regain your health. Even if you feel like you have fallen off the wagon, you can still get back up and achieve optimal health and wellness. As always, start small and work your way up. Celebrate successes and stay positive!
1. The Impact of Coronavirus on U.S. Households in Major U.S. Cities, 2020. NPR, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; 2020. https://media.npr.org/assets/img/2020/09/08/cities-report-090920-final.pdf.