There’s no question that we’ve seen a number of harrowing changes over the last year or so. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all grappled with significant challenges – both great and small – some physical, some emotional and/or psychological. Some of us have lost loved ones or lost our jobs. Some of us have watched the course of our lives shift dramatically and permanently. And some of us are simply caught in an unhealthy cycle – either physically, mentally, or both.
It’s with great gratitude that I say, in many areas of the U.S., we’re approaching the return to normalcy. And while I won’t begin to offer counsel or advice on the state of the world, the economy, or the long-term recovery we’ll need following this traumatic event, there is one area of life where I can offer a little wisdom. As the head of a vibrant health-products company, and with many years of experience pursuing a personal and professional passion for wellness, I’d like to offer a few actionable tips for those who want to improve their post-pandemic health and well-being. I know it’s still a difficult time, but my hope is that these ideas will help to ease you back onto the path of good health with achievable purpose.
- Schedule a daily outdoor walk.
For your mental and emotional health, for your physical well-being, and to continue to push yourself out of your social bubble and comfort zone, make it a practice to go on a daily walk outdoors. The benefits of walking (especially outside) are plentiful and can include lower weight, improved mood and even a longer life. Exposure to sunlight (with the appropriate SPF protection!) also has benefits, including increased Vitamin D and the release of mood-boosting serotonin. To further boost the impact of your walk, consider doing it in a natural setting near trees, greenery or a body of water (because we have some evidence to show that being in nature can reduce blood pressure, lower stress hormones and more), and invite someone to join you on some of your outings (because exercising with a friend brings even more benefits, like increased accountability, as well as the joy and stress relief that comes from human connection which has certainly been lacking during the pandemic). To top off all these benefits, walking is an extremely accessible activity – it requires no equipment, it can be done nearly anywhere, and it’s doable at many different weights and fitness levels, and with good shoes it causes little or no stress on your joints. All in all, you can’t go wrong with a walk.
2. Prioritize your immune health.
When it comes to fueling and fortifying your body, the amount of expert advice out there can feel incredibly overwhelming. Should you try keto? Or maybe you should go gluten-free? And what about your supplement schedule? There’s a lot to try to navigate, and just getting started can be fatiguing and confusing enough to make you want to just order a pizza and flop on the couch. My advice is to start with a single high-priority focus and grow from there. And given that we’ve all lived through a global pandemic that underscored the vital significance of our immune response, I’d argue that the starting point should be prioritizing the health of your immune system. Your hard-working immune response is what keeps you safe in the face of life-threatening ailments, and you may now feel a new level of appreciation and gratitude for the system that is always working to ward off germs and diseases to keep you safe. When it comes to your diet and supplement plan, begin with making some additions rooted in the science of immune health! Add in foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins A and D, as well as iron and zinc (think citrus fruits, red bell peppers, broccoli and some of the others on this helpful list). And instead of falling down the supplement rabbit hole trying to create the perfect routine and schedule, just look for a starter supplement with a special focus on immunity and the key compounds that help boost your T cells (white blood cells that fight bad cells). You can always add to your supplement mix slowly over time – your defense system will thank you.
3. Go easy on yourself.
Finally and perhaps most importantly, go easy on yourself, and give yourself a lot of grace to build your health and well-being back up in a slow, sustainable way. While you may not be where you’d like to be in terms of your health, fitness, mental health and well-being, you have to remind yourself – on a daily basis, if necessary – that you’ve survived a major trauma and it’s okay to take some real time to rebuild and rejuvenate. When I see a customer or a friend who is beating themselves up for not being as fit or healthy as they feel they should be, I like to ask them how they’d approach a dear friend or loved one who was having a similar issue. What might they say to them? What tone of voice would they use? What advice would they give? Odds are, they wouldn’t be unkind and harsh – they’d be patient and understanding and supportive. They’d offer some sage counsel, but they’d also pat their friend on the back for doing all they’re already doing. This is how we need to treat ourselves. We need to bring that same kind of understanding, patience and grace to our relationships with ourselves. When you begin to give yourself the space and time you need to grow and tell yourself it’s okay to make mistakes along the way, you will see progress. In good time, with a lot of self-awareness, self-kindness and some adaptability, things will shift and you’ll begin to transform into the healthy and well person you were before – or the person you always wanted to be.