With most of the country isolating at home, the reality is that we all find ourselves in stressful times. With so much to consider and so many unknowns, it is easy to fall into negativity. Work to prevent that from happening by taking some simple steps to help maintain a positive outlook and keep the stress monster at bay. This can improve your mental health, overall physical health, and for those in the midst of treatment, give your fertility a boost.
Do one daily news check. Rather than watching or reading the news all day, allow yourself one check-in per day, ideally not before bedtime. While it’s important to stay updated on new developments, reading the headlines can be scary and make it harder to stay positive. Stick with news from reputable media outlets and keep in mind that misinformation is rampant on social media. Opt for updates from public health officials and news outlets that use well-accepted scientific analyses published in well-known medical journals.
Stick to a schedule. While it’s tempting to binge the next episode of Tiger King on Netflix, set a bedtime and wake time to follow each day. To feel rested, you need 7-9 hours per night. It helps to put away the electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime. If you find yourself sleeping more due to restlessness at night or feeling depressed, it is time to add in physical exercise to help relieve anxiety and stress.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity will lift your mood as well as improve your health, and there is an endless amount of free options to consider. Long walks, jogging, bicycling and hiking will get you out in the fresh air and sunshine while staying within a safe social distance from others. If you’d prefer to stay inside, there is an abundance of free online videos to follow for HIIT training, yoga, pilates, aerobics, dancing and more. Or you can opt to create your own workout and just put on your favorite albums and dance or do calisthenics. Aim for 30 minutes per day.
Start a daily mindfulness practice. With so many changes and uncertainties in the world, the truth is that stress, worry, anxiety, and depression can be a challenge for everyone. It helps to calm the mind when these feelings start to take over. Taking time each day to breathe in silence, while gently releasing the thoughts that come to your mind, can help. Learn step by step how to start a mindfulness practice from our fertility counselor in this blog.
Experiment with healthy recipes in the kitchen. The internet has an endless amount of recipes to try that can fit into any dietary need, preference, or nutritional lifestyle. With dining out no longer an option and many trying to save money by cooking at home rather than doing takeout, it’s the perfect time to experiment. As you cook, aim to incorporate whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables into your diet along with fish containing omega-3 oils.
Do something for others. If you are on lockdown with others, spend some quality time playing games, watching movies, creating art, etc. To connect with others outside of your household, write letters (the old fashioned kind) or emails and call or FaceTime with friends and relatives in other places. Send cards to nursing homes and retirement communities that can be shared with the residents there. Donate food to a local food pantry or dog and cat food to a local animal shelter.
Tackle the projects you’ve put off. It’s time to check things off the list that you’ve been too busy to do. Give your home a deep spring clean scrub, organize the basement, clean out a closet, package up items for donation, alphabetize the spice rack, paint a room, or plant flowers and vegetables in a garden. As you get into your activity, you’ll take your mind off the world around you and feel a sense of accomplishment when you’re done.
Start a gratitude journal. This takes only minutes each day and it can make a difference. Every morning, take inventory of something that you can be thankful for. Some days will be harder than others, but there is always something, either little or big, that we can be grateful for each day. Write it down in a journal so you can look back at it when this is all over.
Remaining positive and healthy during this time is important. For more information about COVID-19 and updates regarding Fertility Centers of Illinois and your treatment options, click here.
“Stay positive. Better days are on the way.” -Unknown
Author Bio: Dr. Laurence Jacobs, Reproductive Endocrinologist with Fertility Centers of Illinois