4 health lessons that the pandemic has taught us

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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The pandemic has taught some important lessons regarding our health and well-being. But what are these? Let’s find out now!

Covid-19 has tremendously impacted our life in every way, be it physical, mental, or financial health. It has shown us how time and again that we are taking our health for granted.

A study published by The Lancet Medical Journal concluded that major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder, especially among women and youth, has increased substantially. The researchers estimated an additional 76.2 million cases of anxiety disorders and 53.2 million more cases of major depressive disorders in 2020 because of the pandemic.

People poorly managing their chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders were more vulnerable to the complications of Covid-19. The pandemic has shattered our illusion of health and showed us the genuine sketch. It’s high time we should start focusing on health and on the bigger picture.

4 health lessons to learn from the Covid-19 pandemic

1. Nutrition:

Proper nutrition and hydration are vital. People consuming a well-balanced diet tend to be healthier with stronger immune systems, and have a lower risk of chronic illnesses and infectious diseases. Therefore, one should eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed foods every day to get the necessary vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, protein, and antioxidants that the body needs.

There are several nutrients that are involved in the normal functioning of the immune system. This includes folate, iron, selenium, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, and D.

holistic health
Multivitamins should not be skipped ever. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

It is generally recommended to eat a healthy rainbow balanced diet rich in whole grains, whole pulses, fruits, and vegetables, which allows one to get these vital nutrients through our food.

2. Mental health:

When Covid-19 hit us like a hurricane, our mental health too was hit hard by it. The pandemic took over the nation rapidly, leading to a drastic rise in anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Evidently, Covid-19 is a disease of the “body”, yet it impacted people at psychological levels. This clearly showed us a connection between our “body” and “mind”. It becomes equally important to be careful of our mental health.

Here are some ways to keep our mental health in check:

  • Acknowledge your thoughts: Acknowledge what you are feeling. There is no “right way” an individual should feel, whatever emotions and thoughts you are experiencing are valid. Identification of emotions allows us to cope with them effectively.
  • Take out time: Make short or small breaks a part of your routine. It helps us to connect back with ourselves.
  • Do what makes you happy: Allow yourself to engage in a hobby that takes your mind off and makes you happy, it could be reading a book, watching a movie, or simply being with yourself.
  • Stay in touch: Reach out to family and friends. Connecting with our loved ones can make us feel loved and having a support system helps. The feeling of togetherness contributes greatly to our mental health.
  • Seek help: Whenever you feel things are getting heavy and difficult, don’t shy away from seeking professional help to take care of your mental health and well-being.

3. Exercise:

Exercise plays a vital role, especially during the Covid-19 era. Movement is vital for our body and we spend the majority of our day sitting before a desk. It is essential to focus on creating the habit of moving daily, regardless of what that movement is. Walking for 20 minutes a day, workout, Zumba, yoga, or anything which one enjoys.

holistic health
The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us about the importance of fitness. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Sleep:

Not getting enough sleep can be a trigger and lead to overeating or craving quick energy from sweets the next day, as we struggle to stay focused, productive, and motivated.

The last word

As can be seen above, focusing on a single aspect of health, and ignoring the other may not maintain the equilibrium of mind and body. Rather, a holistic perspective is required to stay away from diseases, and to work as a healthy functioning individual. Any disease can be well-fought with a strong immune system, that can be maintained by supplementing the body with highly nutritious food and positive thoughts for the mind. However, it isn’t something that can be achieved overnight but a change for good is the need of the hour.

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