Health – How to Cope With Quarantine Physically and Mentally
Our health should always come first. But especially in times like these, it is important that we support our body and mind equally to function as they should.
Not for nothing did the ancient Romans say Mens sana in corpore sano est. Because body and mind form a unity and to really stay healthy, both have to be taken care of equally.
But while we have been educated in body hygiene from childhood on, the hygiene of our mind is different. So, today, I have put together a few tips for you to keep both healthy.
But first of all, I would like to point out that I am not a doctor, physiotherapist or psychologist. This blog post is based on my personal experiences with my own body, which I would like to share here. If you have physical or psychological problems, you should definitely see a doctor and not treat yourself with my tips.
This section is about physical health. What can we do to support our bodies. Because health is anything but guaranteed. There are many things we can do to stay healthy.
It is no secret that the human body is largely made up of water. In fact, we’re talking about 80 percent!
So it is no wonder that water is, so to speak, our elixir of life.
I myself, especially when working in the home office, often find myself not drinking enough because I am so in my little bubble. But it is important to stay hydrated at work so that the body and especially the brain have enough energy to do what we expect them to do.
In principle, drinking is generally good. But it is best if you really drink water. If you – like me – don’t drink so much water, but prefer something with flavor, I have a tip: the magic word is Fruit Infused Water!
Fruit Infused Water brings two advantages:
- It tastes really good and you automatically drink more water
- It is well known that fruits contain vitamins and minerals, but did you also know that they release them into the water?
Yes, you read correctly! The water then contains the vitamins and minerals of the fruits, so you simply take them in with every sip when you drink.
Smoothies and juices are also healthy, they have more calories though, which is why you can drink more of the tasty water.
Furthermore, when you drink, you also flush any bacteria and viruses down into your stomach, where they are killed by the gastric acid. So: Ready for the water bottle, steady, go!
Meanwhile there are numerous nutritional concepts and everyone who chooses one of them believes to have found the healthiest nutrition for themselves. And that may be true. Because every person is different! This might also be connected for example to food allergies, intolerances or ethical/religious reasons. In addition, the energy and nutrient intake looks a little different for each person.
However, there are nutrition guidelines of the German Society for Nutrition (DGE). These guidelines help if you want to eat a full diet based on the latest scientific findings.
What they mainly say is that you should have a balanced and varied diet. Too one-sided is not good and does not give your body everything it needs. Makes ssense, right? These are the 10 rules of the DGE, which serve as an orientation:
- Eat a variety of foods
- Lots of grain and potatoes
- Five portions of fruits and vegetables per day
- Milk / dairy products daily
- Fish once or twice a week
- Meat, sausage and eggs in moderation
- Little fat
- Sugar and salt in moderation
- Plenty of liquid
- Gentle food preparation
I know it can be tempting to throw a frozen pizza in the oven during quarantine and then just keep watching your favorite Netflix series. But please, please try to get over your inner bastard and eat a healthy diet. This is more important now than ever, as your body needs a strong immune system to fight bacteria and viruses in case you get sick.
Of course, taking in the necessary vitamins and minerals through food and water is best for the body. Nevertheless, it makes sense to consider food supplements, as the name suggests, can support the body in addition to a balanced diet.
When I am in Germany, for example, I like to take vitamin D tablets because I am much less exposed to the sun here than when I am traveling in South East Asia.
Apart from that I take the following:
- Zinc: I also try to support my immune system with zinc.
- Magnesium: From time to time I take magnesium, which supports my muscles when I work out a lot – like now in times of social distancing. I prefer sticks that contain a powder that foams in my mouth. Personally, I don’t like effervescent tablets at all, so I choose different variants.
- Turmeric: Among other things, turmeric has anti-inflammatory effects. As I unfortunately often suffer from tendinitis and cystitis, I take turmeric in the form of so-called golden milk to help my body heal itself. Golden milk is a powder of turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper and ginger. Other effects of turmeric are: help the digestion, prevent cancer and Alzheimer’s.
In order to stay fit and healthy, it is also essential to be physically active at least occasionally. This can be a walk or a round of circuit training in the living room. The main thing is that you do sports. At least three to four times a week for at least 30 minutes each time.
Reasons why exercise keeps you healthy:
- The immune system is strengthened. The reason for this is the release of adrenaline, which causes the defence cells to multiply more quickly. Thus the body automatically produces more natural killer cells, white blood cells, T and B lymphocytes. This only happens during training, but you also train your immune system to react faster in case of illness. If you do sports regularly, you reduce the risk of getting sick in general and can even counteract serious diseases such as cancer.
- The cardiovascular system is kept fit, because your heart muscles are strengthened by endurance training. The stronger the muscles, the less often the heart has to beat. Your heart is thus spared and better supplied with blood. In addition, the blood vessels become elastic and the resistance in the vessels is reduced. This reduces the risk of high blood pressure.
- Sport has a positive effect on cholesterol levels, which can prevent arteriosclerosis. This in turn can result in secondary diseases such as stroke or heart attack.
- It can prevent a variety of diseases
And even if this point could trigger a shitstorm, I can’t help but write my opinion on it: Dear people, of course washing is important. And especially in times of Corona you should wash your hands more often. But in my opinion, two things are important:
- Attentiveness: You don’t have to wash or disinfect your hands indiscriminately all the time. Be aware of where you are and what you are touching and then wash your hands accordingly. You should also be aware of when and how you touch your face. But honestly? It was like that before Corona, too! I will never forget how I once fed a few goats when I was about six years old and didn’t wash my hands afterwards. I was sick for a week. But really, really sick. And you know what? I’ve learned my lesson! But the lesson was not to wash my hands every time I get a chance for it…
- We do not support our body if we constantly destroy what it is trying to build for us: which is a natural layer of fat that our skin needs. Besides, I grew up with the phrase ‘dirt cleans the stomach’ and I am firmly convinced that this is true. Of course, again, every body is different. And if you basically have a weakened immune system and/or previous illnesses, it is complete nonsense to burden your body with even more bacteria. But a healthy body grows on such small challenges. Unless it’s bacteria from goats that a little six-year-old girl is feeding. But joke aside: I think even through setbacks like this my immune system just grew in the end. I am very thankful that it is doing such a good job for me and I am sure that it has something to do with the fact that I don’t walk around with hand sanitizers. Not even in Asia or Latin America. And when I see a street food stand I’m the first one ordering and eating with the hands…
The same applies, in my opinion, to body and hair. You don’t have to shower twice a day and you don’t have to wash your hair every day. Both skin and hair will thank you and be much healthier if you give them the necessary attention, but only at the right time.
“You can live 100 years without sickness if you don’t worry for a second”
This Chinese proverb is probably difficult to put into practice – who lives without worries? – but that doesn’t make it any less true. Worries can also make you ill. Why do you think we are “sick with worry” when we are extremely worried? What happens in our mind has effects on our body. Because, as I wrote at the beginning: they are a unity.
So a few ways how to take care of your mental health you will now learn:
The basic prerequisite for mental health is inner balance. And how could you achieve this better than through meditation? You can approach this topic in different ways:
- Guided meditation with apps: Apps like HeadSpace can guide you through the meditation. You will be guided on how to breathe and what to focus your thoughts on. Personally, I think this is the perfect way to get started!
- Meditation with YouTube: On YouTube you will also find numerous videos for meditation. Either with instructions or purely with pleasant music, which should make it easier for you to come to rest and direct your thoughts inwards.
- Meditation with friends via Zoom: Since you currently do not have the opportunity to meet with others and this would be more time-consuming anyways, you can consider whether you have friends who are also interested in meditation. Then you can meet via Zoom and meditate together. This way you are less tempted to be distracted.
I do not write or talk about mindfulness very often. Because I have to admit, I am not yet 100% clear about the concept of mindfulness. In the Buddhist monastery Wat Pa Tam Wua, where I spent a few days last year, mindfulness was the highest commandment. Mindful eating, mindful walking, mindful cleaning up. I am also reading a book written by a Buddhist monk: Anger: Buddhist Wisdom for Cooling the Flames*. This book is also very much about mindfulness, with which we should treat and then embrace our anger and resentment.
The crucial point of mindfulness seems to be that you are completely in the here and now. That you are attentively observing yourself as if you were looking at yourself from the outside: your thoughts, but also your actions. But you should not evaluate them. One could also say that mindfulness is the basis of meditation. Because meditation – at least the Samatha technique – is also about mindfulness, mostly about mindful breathing.
Through mindfulness exercises you can increase your well-being… And thus improve your mental health!
Worries and fears very often cover up all the positive things that happen in our lives. These can be big, but also very small successes. Or simply lucky situations that make us lucky by birth or events over which we have no influence. We should be thankful for all this and also keep them in mind. I have been doing gratitude exercises for over two years now. Firstly, since January 2018, I have been writing a gratitude diary, in which I write three things every day, preferably in the morning, for which I am grateful. On the other hand, I also do visualization exercises, in which I visualize situations in my life that have resulted in something for which I am grateful. Like this, I start my days with positive thoughts.
Priming is a technique I learned at Unleash the Power Within from Tony Robbins. It is a mixture of breathing exercises to oxygenate the brain, gratitude exercises and visualization techniques à la Vision Board. I do priming sometimes more, sometimes less often. Basically, however, I usually have the feeling that it helps me more than ordinary meditation. This is because I have an active monkey mind. That’s what it was called during my Vipassana in Thailand: a very active mind that is difficult to disconnect. When I want to meditate, my monkey basically decides that he absolutely needs to throw a wild party immediately, while I can keep him calm during priming by visualizations.
Our thoughts are important in all this. They influence our emotions and our mental well-being. In order to focus on the positive thoughts, you can, for example, use the techniques mentioned above. But there are other ways with which you can spread small crumbs of positivity in your life.
For example, I have a bracelet that I only take off for showering. I can turn it around and on the inside it says Believe in Yourself. In the beginning, I turned it over and over again, but now I just look at the bracelet and the three words appear in front of my inner eye. It floods me with new energy every time.
In addition, I have various things here in my room and even in the whole apartment that remind me of beautiful moments in my life: souvenirs from my travels, photos taken by me printed on canvas, clothes that I bought on my travels and that make me travel back to the place mentally.
Currently, I am thinking about setting up a small house temple. Not because I want to become Buddhist, but because it would give me a bit of Thailand feeling here in Germany.
Believe me, the Internet and social media are incredibly important to me. They are a part of my life and I can hardly imagine to live without it. After all, I am something like an influencer (no, I don’t have flu or corona). Nevertheless, it is essential for my mental health to give me a little bit of space from time to time. Away from Likes and the share button, with which I can show the world what makes me laugh or cry.
I can count on one hand the days I’ve been offline for the last decade. Okay, two hands. But that’s only because I was offline for four days straight at the monastery last year. And especially the time there and my offline time afterwards have been incredibly re-energizing for me.
One factor is crucial, which is why I included it in the title of this section: You should make a conscious decision. Of the eight or nine days I was offline, some were neither conscious nor intentional. And then there is a boundary in my head and I can hardly control myself. If I can mentally prepare myself for being offline, finish all the open tasks and then decide for myself when to turn off the Internet, I’m totally cool with it. But if the opposite is the case, my monkey goes completely crazy again.
Therefore my tip: Plan consciously times, in which you switch off the Internet! Use this time to go out, read, meditate. Whatever you enjoy.
Moving And Fresh Air
I have already mentioned above how important sport is. But exercise is also very important for mental health. You don’t need 200 squats or 100 push-ups for that. No, a walk at the fresh air helps a lot and clears the head. Think about past situations where you were faced with a problem at work and could not come up with a solution. You’ve been sitting in front of the computer for hours and your head has been smoking like crazy. But you didn’t wanna give up, right? Did it happen then that you finally got out because it just didn’t make sense to sit there doing nothing anymore? Sure! I’ve experienced something like that myself many times and been told about it by others just as often. I bet that fresh air and moving your stiff body made you feel better quite immediately. And I also bet that when you returned to work you suddenly came up with a solution. Just as if it had been there all along but you weren’t able to see it.
This was only a small insight into the topic of physical and mental health. But they are all things I try to implement daily or at least very regularly. There is so much more to it, but I think that was good enough for a first overview. In the next few weeks I would like to write more blog posts on individual topics mentioned here.
So stay tuned and write in the comments what you do for your health and mental health!
PS: This post has been sponsored by Trusted Blogs. I’m deeply grateful that they want to support fulltime bloggers affected by the crisis and, therefor, decided to sponsor one post per blogger for a selected group of bloggers. And I am one of them <3 They had no say in the topic or the ideas I’m sharing. This is my own opinion.
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