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Three tips on how to practice self-care amidst the pandemic effect

September 03, 2021 - Friday 10:09 PM by Hermes Joy Tunac

Article Banner Image Sam Isleta doing functional training

Several statistics prove that the current pandemic affects our mental health as much as our physical health. Statistics show a worrisome increase in collective anxiety, suicide rate, and sleep disturbances to many people during these challenging times. So, let this be a reminder that while we're doing our best to shield ourselves from the threats of COVID-19, we should also not take our mental health for granted.

In light of mastering the art of self-love and self-care due to the numerous pandemic effects happening around us, we give you three sustainable regimens guaranteed to make you feel beautiful, inside and out, as approved by nutritionist and dietician Cheshire Que.

Here are Cheshire's tips to combat some of the #PandemicEffects on our health:

Make time for movement

Being intentional about movement sounds like a giant leap, but sticking to a physically active routine is all it takes to give you the benefits of quality sleep, faster metabolism, strong bones, immunity, and a stable mood. Cheshire's advice is to "look for a virtual home exercise that you enjoy to get you started. There are tons of options that you can find on YouTube that require a small amount of space with little or no equipment required." Her suggestion? "Consider activities that build strength and endurance to enhance muscle building, as well as online functional fitness training with a professional to provide the body with strength for activities of daily living, such as bending, twisting, lifting, pushing, squatting." 

Suppose you're experiencing uncontrollable pee or can "barely hold' urine when laughing or exerting effort and bearing down, remember that these are red flags for having weak pelvic floor muscles. "Add Kegel exercise, especially for women, to help strengthen the pelvic floor or the group of muscles that give you proper control over your bladder and bowels. This practice also prevents a condition known as stress incontinence," Cheshire explains. 

Here's how to do it:

1. Make sure that the bladder is empty, then sit or lie.
2. Tighten the pelvic floor muscles, hold tight and count three to five seconds.

3. Relax and hold for 5 seconds.
4. Repeat 10x.
5. Don't forget to breathe during the process.

Fuel up with healthier food and beverage choices


Numerous studies prove that consuming more plant-based food will do the trick if we want to enjoy a healthier, fuller, and more vibrant life. However, don't get confused though, as it won't mean foregoing meat or animal products entirely. 

"In essence, this meal plan emphasizes whole food, unprocessed to minimally processed food. The idea is also to include more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts, with minimal consumption of animal products," Cheshire explains. 

And since food and fluid are also essential to maximize your workout results, Cheshire reminds you to fuel up before and after a workout. "If you want your body to perform at its best, it's going to need fuel. Carbohydrates supply the body with the energy it needs to enable you to maximize your workout. Likewise, combining carbohydrate and protein after a sweat session replenishes glycogen stores, repairing and building muscles."

If you only have five to 10 minutes before exercise, Cheshire advises that drinking cranberry juice helps refuel the body. 

"Cranberry juice can provide an instant energy boost because it contains readily absorbable carbohydrates. It's also a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which help combat oxidative stress," the dietician explains. 

Manage your mind and your emotions

It's no secret that depression and anxiety have been on the rise since the pandemic. As resilient as we are, our minds and emotions have been the target during this crisis. "The body affects the mind, and the mind affects the body. That's why paying attention to our mental health is a crucial step," says Cheshire.

Thankfully, there are little things we can do that significantly impact our mental hygiene, such as yoga and pilates. Aside from leaving you sweaty and centered, yoga helps you become more present, mindful, and calm. 

On the other hand, Cheshire also notes that pilates is another low-impact option with the same dramatic effect in improving mood and balancing the brain chemicals. "Doing Pilates provides a distraction from negative thoughts, releasing stress, and enhancing mindfulness," she expounds. 

And it turns out, activities such as meditation, journaling, coloring, cooking, gardening, or other related activities help conquer anxiety, anger, and even depression. "Remember that chronic stress not only impairs the immune system, it can also make us more susceptible to infections and other illnesses when left unmanaged," Cheshire concludes.