Keep illnesses at bay, this World Health Day – fitness

The outbreak of Covid-19 has brought life as we know it to a standstill, not just in India but in countries across the world. We are faced with a microorganism that is causing disruptions in almost all walks of life, be it on health or the economy. While the world grapples with this pandemic, it is necessary for one to maintain calm and composure at all times. This seems like a daunting task, given that we are confined within the four walls for our homes with minimal contact with the world outside, barring through the Internet. But what if we were to tell you that with some basic lifestyle changes, you could get things under control?

As we observe World Health Day, today, we speak to experts about physical and mental wellness in the light of such trying times.

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“We confuse self-care with being selfish and hesitate to prioritise our mental health needs. As much as it is important to take care of those around you, it is important to remember that to be able to do something for another requires that you have the mental bandwidth to be able to do so which comes from being kind, compassionate to yourself, and then to others. Concurrently, we believe that mental health-related problems would not happen to us and treat them as experiences that only others go through,” says Kamna Chhibber, clinical psychologist and head – Mental Health Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Fortis Healthcare.

Another way one can get through this difficult phase is by staying connected with friends and family, but virtually. Dr Amoolya Seth, psychiatrist, Columbia Asia hospital, opines that it is essential for one to communicate through video calls to remain engaged and aware at the same time. Individuals could also utilise this time with family activities or pursue hobbies they didn’t earlier have time for, such as reading, painting, etc.

Workout, too, needs to be an essential part of one’s daily routine. Dr HS Chabbra, medical director at Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, recommends, “A person will need to focus on the basics of life — nutritious food, including natural food items and not supplements, regular exercise for at least 20 minutes, comprising a mix of walking, running, yoga, gym or anything that interests them. Quitting smoking completely, moderating alcohol intake and maintaining hygienic conditions are some of the other prerequisites.”

When it comes to food, Dr Seth suggests a diet enriched with green and leafy vegetables as well as vitamins, and this is to be followed even after the virus is wiped out. “Ensure there are enough green and leafy vegetables in your diet as well as micronutrients such as vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc that boost immunity. Use dietary supplements only if prescribed by a doctor. Get enough sunlight everyday so that your calcium absorption remains healthy.”

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When health is discussed, mental wellness often doesn’t get enough attention. This attitude has been prevalent for years, and it’s about time it sees some change. Chhibber suggests, “Create and operate within a structured routine as far as possible. Ensure you integrate pleasurable activities of your interest into your routine. Focus not just on accomplishing tasks but also on self-care. Stay socially connected while maintaining physical distance.”

To this, Dr Chhabra adds, “More people are likely to suffer from stress-related problems such as depression and anxiety. Families should become their first line of support. Know what you can control and what you cannot — it will reduce stress to a great extent.”

What is also important, experts believe, is to expose ourselves to only so much information that one can handle. “Don’t panic seeing the numbers (of those infected) on news channels. Use social media for connecting with people and not for facts, and consume news sparingly from other media, too,” says Dr Seth, as Chhibber adds, “Expose yourself to as much information as you are comfortable with. Avoid getting information from questionable sources and stick to those you know are valid ones.”

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