In these uncertain times, everyone is feeling on edge, and some are frightened. Everyone is stressed, people have stopped going to the gym, we are overeating, and we have stopped prioritizing our sleep.
While it may seem now is the time to let everything go, you will find taking care of yourself will relieve stress and help you healthily cope with stress. Focusing on self-care will allow you to reset, see the world clearly, and make reasonable and sound decisions rather than acting out of fear. Now more than ever, we need to make sure our choices ensure optimal immune system regulation to preserve our health as well as the health of those around us.
Experts recommend every adult should get, on average, between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. According to the CDC, 35% of adults fail to get even seven hours. Operating on lack of sleep has a direct connection to a person’s physical health, such as their ability to repair muscle but also their mental health in the form of lack of focus and concentration.
Many adults who operate on a lack of sleep experience brain fog and a lethargic feeling throughout their day. Unfortunately, many people have been functioning for so many years on an inadequate amount of sleep; they believe the lack of focus they experience is their normal demeanor. Persistent sleep deprivation can lead to an increased risk for developing several serious health conditions such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, depression, arthritis, and kidney disease.
With lack of sleep comes an increase in stress levels. Stress causes the body to release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones raise our heart rates and trigger our fight or flight response. Being in a perpetual fight or flight stage, which happens with chronic stress, can cause serious physical and mental health problems. It hurts our immune system and can increase our chances of getting sick. Stress can make sleep difficult, which creates a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and heightened stress levels.
An unhealthy diet can contribute to tiredness and stress. However, if a poor diet persists, an individual can suffer from uncontrollable weight gain, tooth decay, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, depression, and a host of other ailments. Contrary to popular belief, steps to improving your nutrition don’t need to include a complete lifestyle change. Small changes are the place to start. You can begin by tracking what you eat on an average day and compare it to a generalized healthy eating plan found online. Then, you can slowly make changes to start to include some food groups you may be lacking.
For example, you should try to get two servings of fruits and two servings of vegetables each day. An easy way to incorporate these foods into your daily life is in the form of smoothies. It is easy to get both your daily fruit and vegetable servings in a single smoothie. Frozen spinach and kale is tasteless when mixed with frozen or fresh fruits, some orange juice, and some yogurt. Fruits and vegetables have a direct impact on your immune system and will make it easier for your body to fight off diseases.
Once you’ve made some fundamental changes, it’s easier to start to implement more robust healthy choices such as meal planning and tracking. However, don’t feel like you need to turn into a health expert immediately. Small changes are significant and lead to improvements in a person’s overall quality of life.
On top of maintaining a healthy diet and sleep schedule, it’s crucial to maintain a healthy hormonal balance as well. Hormonal imbalances can further exacerbate sleep issues and can cause weight gain. Such symptoms can make lifestyle changes frustrating when results seem delayed. Treatment for hormonal balances in women includes birth control, hormone replacement medication, anti-androgen medication, etc. Hormonal imbalances in men are typically a result of inadequate testosterone, and in these cases, testosterone medication is available to increase these hormonal levels. Natural remedies associated with treating hormonal imbalances include ginseng, red clover, and black cohosh. However, it’s important to note none of these remedies have proof of their effectiveness through scientific research.
Prioritizing your sleep, making healthy choices when it comes to your nutrition, and making sure your hormones are balanced are great ways to make sure you are prepared to weather the storm we are all facing. We may not have control over what is going on right now, but we can control our health.