Thursday, June 20, 2024

The mental and physical tolls of Covid have been well documented and, for many of us, will likely outlast the pervasiveness of the virus itself. We’re approaching another fall and winter of living with Covid, and for many of us, self-care will be more difficult to sustain.

As days get shorter, the weather colder and the delta variant curbs our activities and social lives, taking steps to support our health and wellness becomes essential. The good news is that introducing even a few new routines can have a significant positive impact – if we put in some effort to make them stick.

Plan ahead for healthier eating. Meal planning a week or even a day ahead of time can makes a huge difference in keeping you healthy, energized and satisfied. Stay well hydrated and eat every few hours to get nutrients into your system regularly. Avoid going too long between meals to ward off overindulging on the more convenient but less healthy options.

Take regular breaks from screen time. School- and work-from-home have made unplugging harder than ever. Make the commitment to turn off those screens at a certain time each night. Go for a nightly walk or substitute mentally engaging tasks such as crosswords, sudoku and word games.

Get moving with a buddy. Find a friend or family member to join you for walks, bike rides or an exercise class. Studies have shown that people are more likely to stick to a routine and schedule with exercise if they have someone else keeping them accountable. The buddy system will also help break through the isolation that creeps in over the colder months.

Make small changes. Wash the dishes by hand, park in a farther-away spot when running errands, take the stairs instead of the elevator or take the dog for an extra walk (they deserve more movement, too!). Check out a new neighborhood for your walks or bike rides to build in variety.

Improve sleep routines. Sleep is the body’s way of recharging. If you start to fall out of a good sleep rhythm, you might face increasing fatigue that can lead to depressed moods, lethargy and weight gain. Try to head to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day to ensure regular, restorative sleep.

Cut down on the drinking. It’s easy to see a beer or cocktail as a way to wind down at the end of the day, but excess alcohol can alter the body’s ability to reach a deeper sleep. You might sleep longer, but your body’s efforts to process the alcohol can interfere with the REM cycle, resulting in lesser quality sleep.

Trying out these strategies and modeling healthier habits for your family can make all the difference in how we come through the colder months.

John Pecchia

John Pecchia is owner of Get In Shape For Women in Porter Square.