The pandemic has affected and changed practically every aspect of our lives. Some may have changed for the better, others ended being worse, and a few had a little of both. Regardless of the type of change we had, we can’t deny that our health has been immensely impacted by the current situation, especially that we are required to adopt and adapt the study-at-home (SAH) set up for students and the work-from-home (WFH) option for employees. It is, therefore, crucial to protect and maintain our health in these unfamiliar new setups amidst a global health crisis.
The question now is how can we protect our health and stay healthy. The Harvard Health Publishing recommends having a healthy diet rich in fiber, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and engaging in physical activity for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week as part of the essentials in maintaining good health. The article may not have mentioned it but controlling the amount of food that we are consuming is also important.
In my case, I was able to lose weight during the pandemic by monitoring my food intake and engaging in basic home exercises that don’t require any equipment. I didn’t have food restrictions, but I made sure that I don’t overeat. I followed my exercise plan which I obtained from YouTube and which consisted mostly of stationary floor exercises such as abdominal crunches, push-ups, lunges, and other similar activities.
Other members of my family, on the other hand, sweat it out by engaging in virtual Zumba sessions and doing household chores. Having experienced all these physical activities, I realized that we don’t need to be in a gym nor purchase any equipment to be able to exercise and stay fit. All we need is discipline and determination to achieve and maintain a physically fit body. Of course, it’s easier said than done but it’s possible and I’ve been doing it since the pandemic started last year.
If you are working or studying at home, Assistant Professor Queenie Roxas-Ridulme, a registered nurse and the Program Chair for Master of Arts in Nursing (MAN) of the UPOU Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS) suggested engaging in simple exercises like stretching or walking every one or two hours and to have a 15-minute break in order to focus and concentrate again.
We are aware that regular exercise and proper diet are beneficial in maintaining our health, but are these enough? Apparently, they are not sufficient since there are other components of health other than the physical aspect of our bodies. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.” So being healthy doesn’t mean being free from illnesses or sickness and is not only limited to being physically fit but also encompasses our mental and social well-being.
Through the online discussion entitled “Usap-Lusog-Isip: Conversations on Promotion Mental Health,” I was able to confirm that mental health is an integral part of our well-being as well as learned about the concept of hygiene and its relevance to our mental health. Dr. Dinah Palmera Nadera, the discussion’s resource person and the Resident Psychiatrist of the University Health Service of UP Diliman, highlighted the importance of hygiene in protecting and maintaining our mental health and detailed the role of the different forms of hygiene–information, financial, social, and spiritual, among others–in our daily activities, particularly now that we are confined in our homes most of the time.
Dr. Nadera cited that information hygiene, for instance, can protect our mental health for it allows us to identify and disregard the false information and fake news that spread like wildfire on the Internet, thereby reducing the anxiety and stress that this incorrect information brings into our consciousness. On the other hand, money, economic or financial hygiene encourages us to improve our buying power and financial freedom. It obliges us to save, for example, by identifying essential items from non-essential items when making a purchase. Moreover, financial hygiene should be able to help us to control impulsive clicking on the “Add To Cart ” button when shopping online.
Regarding social hygiene, Dr. Nadera stressed the importance of our relationships and interconnectedness with one another. She highlighted the significance of communication among family members, particularly with our parents and grandparents. For me, one positive aspect the pandemic has contributed is that it has undeniably made me closer with my loved ones, and this is something that I’ll cherish and bring with me moving forward.
Another relevant insight on how to protect and maintain our health in our current setup is the practice of self-care which, according to WHO, is “among the most promising and exciting new approaches to improve health and well-being.” It’s notable that WHO has recently promoted this practice which some of us may have neglected due to busy work schedules especially if you’re a full-time employee or due to many school requirements and activities if you’re a student. For tips and suggestions for both students and working professionals on how to integrate self-care with their daily tasks and responsibilities, you may read “A little help with WFH” and “Psychosocial Help for Students in times of ECQ” which are both written by Ms. Anna Cañas-Llamas.
The scope of self-care includes self-medication which is applicable for common and mild illnesses and is useful during lockdowns and quarantines. Self-medication has many benefits, especially to those who have no direct access to doctors, hospitals, medicines, and other modern health care benefits. The use of medicinal plants, for instance, as remedies to common ailments such as boils, stomach aches, and fever, among others has been a customary practice of most Filipinos. The problem, however, is that some overdo it to the point that they no longer consult doctors and other health professionals, especially in serious cases. With WHO’s intervention and promotion of self-care, I’m optimistic that this practice coupled with the guidance of experts can benefit more people, especially in our current situation.
Regardless of how you’ve changed during this pandemic, your health should always be your priority. Whether you’re a student or an employee and whether you’re in a pandemic or in a normal situation, it is always important to take care of your health which includes your physical, mental, and social well-being. Stay healthy, everyone!
(This article, written by Jaime P Guimbao, was first published in the UPOU Website on August 27, 2021)