Minimizing Stress During These Difficult Times ~ YOUR HEALTH with RICK BELLANTI

By: Rick Bellanti – April, 2020

Being on a diet or weight loss program seems stressful at times for some people, but it might be just what you need to help with the anxiety and stress of this virus pandemic hitting us right now and from worrying about the kid’s home schooling, possibly being unemployed, protecting our elderly, to maybe contracting the Virus ourselves. Right now they are saying that staying in place with minimal contact with others is the best place to start to fight this from getting worse.

For some people that might be a good thing, some are people are just loners and prefer to do things on their own anyway, others need to be around people to get through their days. No doubt things have changed and we have to change with it to survive this new way of life that we are living right now.

Businesses have closed, including gyms which will be tough on some people that need the gym as part of their daily routine. (Don’t be too concerned as these businesses will again reopen and be ready for you).

One thing is for certain, stress will show up in one form or another and that could very well be a hindrance on a healthy lifestyle program.

People may turn back to alcohol, smoking or unhealthy food choices. Making poor food choices seems to be one topic that I hit upon here and the easiest to fall into without even seeing it before it’s too late. A harmful cycle of bad food choices, like grabbing drinks with unhealthy amounts of sugar and caffeine to get us through the day, leads to bad habits and those bad habits will eventually lead to a bad cycle that will run out of control and with some not so good consequences, like gaining weight, being tired all the time and stressing us out even more.

The caffeine you crave to keep yourself going is harming you more than doing you good. Too much caffeine in your diet leads to poor concentration, drops in your productivity level and you may also experience sleeplessness and your levels of cortisol will rise. When a person has a lot of stress and anxiety they will have an increase of the stress hormone cortisol, which will make you crave the not so good food choices like foods high in fat, sugar and salt. It does become a cycle that we must learn to break to live a healthy lifestyle.

Exercising regularly is very effective in reducing stress, improving alertness and better concentration. Exercise may improve overall mental health by helping your brain cope with stress. So it’s much better to do a thirty minute workout before studying for that test or a work deadline than it is by grabbing a double mocha latte with extra sugar and loads of depressing caffeine. Right now, with gyms closed, it’s best to distance yourself from others, but you can take a walk or a jog, even walk the dog. Doing something physical for thirty minutes a day will do wonders for your mind.

Sleep is still very important and during stressful times it might be harder to fall asleep. Your mind might be over thinking the happenings with the negative news making things worse. Try to avoid stressful triggers, like argumentative people on social media. In fact, you should turn off all your screens and devices at least sixty minutes prior to going to bed and just relax.

Remember to keep your distance from others. Reach out to elderly neighbors (by phone) see if they need anything. Check in with family members as much as possible, through phone, text or social media. Stay at home as much as possible, be straight with your kids and not try to hide what’s going on, keep them active with puzzles and boardgames and try to keep them calm and focused.

This is only temporary, it’s important to take care of yourself. Wash your hands throughout the day using anti-bacterial soap, wear a face mask in public places to protect yourself and others. Only go out if you need food or medicine (keep your time outside minimal). If you can and have the help, leave everyone else at home and go by yourself; the less exposure everyone has, the better we all will be.

Please don’t forget to thank the essential workers, still working all day to protect us and be there for sick patients – doctors, nurses, hospital employees, police, fire and military – supermarkets and restaurants that are still preparing food to be delivered or picked up. We are one nation fighting the same battle, we all must do our part by staying home and getting through this.

Rick Bellanti is a wellness columnist and is on a journey himself to lose 240lbs, and has lost 160lbs since the start of 2015. If you have any questions or comments, please post them to his Getting Healthy with Rick Bellanti Facebook page and once a month he will address a few of the topics here. ◊