5 Tips to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle during a Pandemic

Tips to share during Lifestyle Medicine Week | May 24 - May 31
Lifestyle Medicine Week 2020 Integrative Functional Food Health Wellness
Lifestyle Medicine Week – May 24 through May 31 – is a global celebration of healthy behaviors and a public awareness campaign on the impact our choices can have on chronic disease. This week focuses public awareness on the six essential Lifestyle elements that optimize health – nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress, substance abuse, and social connection. Leigh Frame, PhD, MHS, Program Director, Integrative Medicine Programs, Executive Director, Office of Integrative Medicine and Health, supplied us with these tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle during this extraordinary time. 

1) Move throughout the day. Walk (even in place) during meetings when you can—go outside in the morning to get vitamin D too! Take stretch breaks (3 you can do every hour & 4 for when you need to move more). Walking after dinner has been shown to have health benefits like blood sugar control: see GW’s own Loretta DiPietro’s research.

2) Make time to clear your head. Just 3 minutes focusing on your breath can lower your blood pressure. Try square breathing—for a count of 3-4 each: inhale, hold, exhale, hold, repeat. Try lengthening the counts as you practice.

Yoga & tai chi are moving meditations you can do anywhere. Try this beginner's yoga program, these beginner’s tai chi moves, or kids' meditation.

3) Eat more plants & whole foods. Focus on fresh or dried herbs & simple food prep. Roasted vegetables = fiber candy! Canned beans = dinner time shortcut!

Nutrition Stripped is my favorite source for interesting, healthy recipes. Check out their 20 Easy Pantry Meal Ideas (Hint: canned beans in here!).

4) Get 7-9 hours of restorative sleep. Prepare by disconnecting (1-2 hours, or even 30 minutes, before bed), avoiding alcohol (3-4 hours before), unloading your mind, etc. A winddown routine can be hugely beneficial: a great time to journal or do your meditation be it square breathing, yoga, tai chi, or through Headspace, which is now available free to all GW employees!

5) Positive social connection. Talk to people as much as possible. Challenge them to a plank-off to strengthen your core while you’re at it…then laugh when you’re finished. Smile!

For healthcare providers feeling high stress, Zoom into the free COVID Calm Clinic—no booking needed, stay as long as you like (even 5 minutes).