Are you looking for simple habits to improve your health? With the pandemic still ongoing, even the busiest of people can incorporate quick and easy changes to support their overall health; more importantly, this includes fighting off COVID-19. To learn more we talked with health expert, Kimberly O'Brien during our Fast and Easy Ways for Busy Professionals to Stay Healthy webinar for easy habits that can be applied into your daily routine. Continue reading for a summary of Kimberly's most useful advice shared during the webinar.
According to Dr. Robert E, Sallis, a family, and sports medicine physician at the Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center, even a basic recommended level of exercise, "such as walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week is enough to help your body to fight off a variety of disease, including Covid-19."
According to our health and human services department:
- More than 80% of adults do not meet the recommended guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities
- More than 80% of adolescents do not meet the aerobic activity guidelines for youth
- More than 90% of Americans eat more sodium than recommended for a healthy diet (2300 mg rec)
Some of these statistics raise concern, but there are several ways individuals can positively impact these statistics,
Hydration, mental gratitude, and mediation
It's important to remember that small changes eventually add up to huge results—and it all starts with your morning routine. Before you even wake up, you can apply the following three rules to start your day off on the right foot:
- Mental Gratitude
- Meditation & Intention Setting
Hydration—It's a good idea to keep water beside your bed. Try to drink 8-12 oz. after waking up, as dehydration cuts immunity. If you take your weight, cut it in half—that's about as many ounces of water you should be drinking throughout the day (not at once.) For example, if you weigh 150 lbs. you should be drinking 75 ounces of water a day.
Mental gratitude—When you wake up, think of at least three things you are grateful for in your life. These can be general, such as your spouse, children, or the view outside your window. This practice will transform your mindset and put you in a better mood.
Meditation & intention—set a daily intention with box breathing, also known as square breathing. Close your eyes, sit up straight, breathe in for a count of 4 seconds—and breathe out with a count of 4. Repeating this five times is scientifically proven to lower stress levels and increase mood. Many people wake up and enter a state of anxiety, so do this before you get out of bed. Also, think of an intention for the day. For example, you can tell yourself something as simple as, "I'll do my best today." Think of anything to get you in the right frame of mind. It only takes a few minutes to help you get out of bed and into a healthy state.
Impact of technology on our health
Electronics are scattered throughout every area of our lives, but with more research there is proof of physical ailments connected to technology. With all of today's technology advancements, at work we're often attached to our devices to increase productivity. This causes us to be confined to phones, computers, and other smart devices. As a result, one of the common physical ailments is tech neck: neck pain caused by repetitive strain and injury to the muscles and other tissue structures of the cervical spine. If you think you might have tech neck, you should:
- assess your workstation
- watch your posture
- stretch and take breaks
Access your workstation—Your screen should be at eye level.
Watch your posture—Adjust your workstation to suit your posture, not the other way around. Move the keyboard to your lap if needed.
Stretch and take breaks—Hourly stretch breaks can release pressure from a hunched posture, such as simple chair exercises, but don't do stretches that cause pain. Avoid chin to chest movement. You can also use the Bruggers Relief Position Exercise:
- Sit at the edge of your work chair
- Spread legs slightly
- Turn your toes out
- Rest your weight on your legs and feet
- Relax your abdominal muscles and tilt your pelvis forward
- Rotate your arms outward while turning your palms up
Although unlimited technology can cause problems, there are valuable benefits of strategically using technology to support your health. This includes utilizing mobile applications designed for exercise, mediation, and nutrition. In addition, there are small changes you can make that will start adding up to significant results. Here are some examples:
- Park farther away than usual (gives yourself added time to exercise by walking)
- Get a standing desk (great for posture)
- Take a walk during lunch
- Try a step challenge (you get the support and accountability of a group activity)
- Equal water to coffee ratio; for every coffee you have, you should also have a glass of water. (Remember that coffee is a diuretic, it will dehydrate you)
- Eat higher lean protein
- Low sugar, stick to fruit sugars
- Avoid salt and processed carbs (Body needs carbs to run but be sure to avoid processed carbs)
- Prepare lunch instead of buying out, as ordering out can be expensive and typically lacks nutrition
Ways we can boost or destroy our immunity
Immunity is the ability of an organism to resist a particular infection or toxin by the action of specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells.
- Vitamins—Vitamins are given as infusions in hospitals treating COVID-19, such as Vitamins C and D as well as zinc. Keep in mind this varies from person to person, considering what medication they are on, etc.
- Berries—Berries are high in phytonutrients and antioxidants; when cells oxidize, they age. Berries will give you natural antioxidants, which will help fight oxidation in your cells, making you overall healthier.
- Hydration—A dehydrated body is 100% more likely to become sick than a hydrated body.
- Exercise—Exercise improves oxygen intake, releasing positive chemicals in your brain while improving your immunity.
- Inactivity—If your body is inactive, it doesn't know that it needs to be on guard to protect you.
- Stress—When we're stressed, our bodies release cortisol, a hormone that deals with the fight or flight chemical in our body. When cortisol is released, your immunity goes down.
- Sleep deprivation— Sleep is one of the most important defenses your body has against contracting illness; the average adult needs 7-9 hours. Make sure that you rest & reset. If you need help building a sleep routine, look through the following bedtime tips below:
- Decide on a set time to go to bed. This is important because your body has a natural sleep-wake cycle, and your brain starts winding down for sleep a few hours before bedtime.
- Leave electronics alone; TV, social media, email are sleep disruptors.
- If you wear glasses, consider using Blue Blocker glasses that block the blue light from televisions and screens that strain your eyes. You can use Blue Blocker glasses with or without a prescription.
- Drink caffeine-free tea.
- Take a warm bath.
- Listen to relaxing music.
- Use an alarm other than your cell phone to wake up.
- Place your phone away from your bed or in another room.
For more tips, watch the entire recorded webinar.
Kimberly O'Brien has been an employment and labor attorney for over 25 years and works as a certified yoga and meditation instructor. She also works as a corporate health coach and in partnership with the Melrose Massachusetts Farmers Market, advocating for community access to sustainable and fresh local food as a path to wellness and healing.