by Dr. Alisha Rawji ND.
Hi everyone, I hope you’re all keeping well and staying safe during these unprecedented times.
As most of us have now transitioned into our new shared reality of staying home, socially distancing, and forgoing our regular day-to-day-lives, I thought it might be useful to share some tips and traits that, I hope can help you get through it a little easier – while staying healthy, safe, and a little more relaxed…and maybe even having a little more fun along the way!
First let’s get the nitty gritty out of the way:
I would like to re-iterate and remind everyone about the recommendations from the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) about how to stay safe during these times. I can’t express how important they are as the most crucial line of defense in keeping us all safe – and here’s why:
1-Wash your hands with soap and water, for at least 20-30 seconds. This is absolutely one of the most critical things we can do to protect ourselves and everyone around us, why?? Because bacteria and viruses actually get broken up by lipid containing agents (such as soap), and therefore, cannot survive. Hand sanitizers (with at least 60% alcohol) also work well, but not as well as handwashing, and therefore should only be used if/when handwashing isn’t possible.
A good little tip is to sing a song while washing your hands (you may need to sing them once or twice to make it work for a full 20-30seconds) but in doing so, makes this mundane and very repetitive task seem a lot more fun – especially for your little ones! Some popular songs that work well are: happy birthday, row-row-row your boat, ABC/Alphabet song…or you can be creative and use whatever chorus or lyrics you like – from any of your fav songs!
2-You’ve probably heard it being said many times before, not to touch your face, but why?? This is because, viruses and bacteria don’t usually enter our bodies through the skin but actually through mucous membranes – and those are mostly found on the face. Viruses enter through open areas such as our eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. Our hands act like a vector or a transport system to get them there, which is why avoiding touching your face is also such a vital defense.
3-Social distancing and staying home as much as we can– as social beings by nature, this is something that I know can be the most difficult thing to do right now but is also very important. Why do we have to stand at least 2 meters away from each other? Another way that viruses (and also bacteria) can spread is through respiratory droplets, i.e. from someone who coughs or sneezes, or even talks too close to one another – whether they’re showing symptoms or not.
Keeping one’s distance does greatly reduce the rate of spread and there is very widespread research out there, denoting this. Comparing how and when countries started implementing social distancing measures, and the slowing of the spread (or ‘flattening the curve’), can be seen not only throughout this pandemic, but from previous ones in history. This can make us feel a little better about the situation when we’re feeling sad or frustrated by it all. I always come back to the fact that collectively, we care enough about one other by social distancing, as well as by helping the health care system to catch up, and also evading hospitals from possible overwhelm.
What else can we do stay healthy??
The first thing I would like to emphasize, is to remember that like most things: this too shall pass. It’s SO easy to feel stuck or overwhelmed by any situation, but also remember that it will, in its own time, get better. Extensive work is being done in all fields and disciplines to help curve this, so for now, continue to do whatever you can to say stay safe: connect with the people you love, take care of each other and remember that it’s best to be alert not anxious.
In the meantime, here are some things you can do to help improve your health right now:
- Sleep: adequate sleep (7-8hrs/night) resets our circadian rhythms, keeps our body alert, and gets our protective immunity fighters (cytokines) to work in full force…this in turn creates a stronger immune system overall. Therefore, keep up with a daily routine, i.e. sleep at the same time, and wake up at the same time in the morning, to maintain overall health and balance.
2.Stress management: when our bodies are overly stressed out, the adrenal glands release cortisol (stress hormone) in excess. When cortisol is chronically high, it can severely deplete our immune system. This is why it is so important to practice healthy coping mechanisms and help lower our stress levels overall. Keeping up with practices like yoga, meditation, tai chi or any other stress-lowering activities are so key in managing stress levels, and improving our overall health and wellness. Another benefit, is that lowering our cortisol will improve melatonin release at night when we want to finally need to shut down, which also helps sleep quality.
3.Hydrate and eat well – generally speaking, this will always help support our bodies, in any situation, of stress that we’re faced with. Continue to eat foods with high amounts of proteins, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and fermented foods, if possible. The reason being, proteins and fats will not only help provide satiety (feeling of fullness), it will also help us maintain blood sugar levels, and keep us focused and alert. Eliminating or even limiting sugars and simple carbohydrates will further help with this. Maintaining adequate blood sugar levels will greatly help us manage stress, and can also improve mood issues, such as depression and anxiety.
Likewise, fruits and vegetables are filled with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that our bodies and immune systems needs to function at its optimal level. They’re packed with vitamin c, zinc, bioflavonoids, and other things that are protective to us. Furthermore, eating fermented foods such as kafir, kombucha, and sauerkraut, for example, help build gut bacteria, and probiotics. This is helpful because not only will that help increase gut and immune defenses, but it also improves brain health. This is because, brain neurotransmitters (such as serotonin) are largely produced in the gut, therefore it will even further help manage mood, stress, and anxiety.
4- Social distancing does NOT meal isolation – at this time, more than ever, people need to reach out and connect to others. There are many creative ways to do that – I’ll share my favs!
-Zoom app (for those who don’t have iphones/facetime): can have multiple people on at once.
-House Party app– I LOVE this one! You can have multiple people on at once, and play games together. You can plan virtual games nights with your friends – and it’s a blast!
-Meetup app: this is an app that has events for almost any/all interests, and there’s a ton of them that have been moved to an online format. Whether you would like to learn or practice a new language, have a virtual coffee shop hangout, or even a virtual pub hangouts. There are also virtual trivia nights, paint nights: so are many options to explore in a fun and creative way.
5-Creativity/productivity/creative outlets: This is SO important right now. There is more than enough evidence out there that convey the importance on creative outlets to greatly improve our mental health. By expressing ourselves creatively, it activates parts of our brain which help release dopamine and serotonin, and generally make us feel happy, inspired, and free. It also
I would suggest any of the following quarantine friendly outlets…and have fun with them!
- Learn or re-learn the guitar, piano, flute, recorder or any instrument!
- Learn a new language: Youtube, Rossetta Stone, there are so many resources out there.
- Singing: have an online jamming party with your friends…have a few laughs along the way!
- Blogging: about anything, or whatever you’re passionate about – talk about it with the world!
- Start a book club – keep yourself interested and engaged with your group of friends.
- Work out videos: so many out there – also many virtual classes in Calgary to check out.
- Dance studios: Many studios in Calgary are still promoting online classes – for many styles!
- Make a vision board, or map our your 2, 3, or 5-year plans: focus on good things to come.
- Be productive in many ways: clean a room, closet, pantry etc..you’ll feel clear and productive.
10.Nostalgia helps: Revisit favorite movies, books, songs, shows, even blog/write about them!
- Virtual cooking class with your parents: ask your mom to finally teach you her skills!
- Screen time: As tempting as it is, limit the amount of time you allow for Netflix binges!
- Turn off the Covid-19 news: instead just update yourself to stay current 1-2x/day.
- Arts, crafts, and games: on that virtual call play some Charades, Pictionary, or Karaoke!
- Take a walk (at a distance), and listen to your favorite playlist or podcast!
- Volunteer opportunities: Meals on Wheels and Food bank need lots of help right now.
- Grow some plants, inside the house or outside, and find joy in watching them grow!
- Put on your best dressed attire, listen to some tunes-you’ll feel confident and self-assured!
- Have a bath with some essential oils (my favs are-ylang ylang, sweet orange, lemongrass).
- Virtual movie nights on Netflix: it allows you and your friends to watch movies together!
- Gratitude: write 2-3 good things a day, or about the little things you’re grateful for.
- Journal your feelings: feel what you feel right now, and this is a great outlet to express it.
- Try your hand at poetry! You might just be a poet, and well…not even know it! J
- ANYTHING that makes you feel happy, healthy, connected, grounded i.e. meditation, yoga.
- A lot of companies are opening up courses, resources, entertainment for FREE see below:
These are some of examples of free resources available to the public right now: it’s great for adults and kids alike. You can learn about the arts, humanities, higher education and more:
Free IV/league courses accessed to everyone virtually:
Museums and zoos: Virtual tours of popular museums, zoos and popular places of interest.
Musicals: You can now watch many well-known musicals from the comfort of your own home!
Audiobooks: Many authors have starting to roll out free access to many different books.
Podcast app: Use your podcast app on your phone for free: history, arts, culture, and more.
YouTube: Many free documentaries and history lessons to be found -just do a quick search!
At the end of the day, do whatever you can, on a daily basis to make yourself feel better throughout this time, and please know that we are here for you! We are still available via telemedicine (phone/video consults) to help with our patients health at this time, whether it be for consultations or even meal plans, please ask we want to help in any way that we can!
I cannot WAIT to get back into the clinic and work with you, when the time is right to do so; but in the meantime, please reach out and I’m happy to help you out with your health, virtually!
Stay healthy, happy, and safe!
-Dr. Alisha Rawji ND.