The pandemic has hit Québec hard, and everyone has been affected on physical, mental and financial levels, even if we’ve evaded the virus itself.
Here are a few tips to help you stay in good health on all three counts.
HOW TO KEEP PHYSICALLY FIT | The stress of confinement, on top of the pandemic itself, has had significant consequences on how we eat, our daily habits, and how we move in general. With an increase in eating and a decrease in moving, many are left feeling the pandemic physically, whether it be added weight or other health issues other than COVID.
Here are a few statistics from Québec according to a survey done by l’Association pour la santé publique du Québec (ASPQ).
- One adult out of 4 has experienced a decrease in the quality of food they eat.
- 42 % of adults have decreased the amount of physical exercise they do.
- 31 % of adults have increased consumption of junk food and drinks high in sugar.
- 34 % of adults are at a disadvantage directly linked to their weight.
- More than 1 out of every two youths between the ages of 14 and 17 years old have decreased their daily physical exercise.
These numbers highlight the issue of nutrition and physical activity. So, what can be done to keep in shape and stay physically healthy?
- Pay Careful Attention to What You Eat | It’s easier said than done; however, don’t despair! While stress can lead to emotional eating, there are a few things you can do to keep on track.
- Look for healthy recipes that entice you | The internet is overflowing with recipes. Have a look, and you will be sure to find a few that don’t just help keep you healthy but that you will love eating.
- Eat smaller portions | Decreasing the size of your portions, with the exception of veggies, is a great way to feel better. While the first days may feel extra tough, your body will totally adapt.
- Do not keep junk food in the house | If temptation peaks, it’s hard not to succumb to it with a cupboard full of junk food. For a few weeks, try avoiding all junk food. If you feel like munching, cut up some veggies and drink lots of water.
- Keep a cheat day | A cheat day isn’t to be underestimated. Depriving your mind and body of all food-related pleasures is not a practice that can be held up. So, once a week, permit yourself to eat what you want.
The first week will prove the hardest, while your physical body (and mind) adapt to the new regime. Pick up a new hobby or bring back an old one to keep your mind and hands busy. Once a few days go by, the cravings will pass, and you will feel so good, inside and out!
- Look for New Ways to Be Active | While your go-to sports and your gym may not be available during the pandemic, you can find ways to move just the same.
- Walk or jog outside | There is nothing quite like a good dose of fresh air. Take your dog for a walk or go for a run in a wooded area. Regardless of where or how fast you move, you will surely benefit from the air, the exercise and feel reinvigorated.
- Sign-up to an online program | Online programs like beachbodyondemand.com and others have become more and more popular. Not only do they cost less than a gym membership, but you also have access to a variety of activity plans from bodybuilding to Zumba. Most of these programs also offer a healthy eating plan to go along with your workout.
- Get in the cardio zone | If you have the space to spare, purchase a new or used cardio machine, a treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike. Otherwise, do some jogging in place. There are great virtual jogs on YouTube, letting you explore the world from the comfort of your own home.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR MENTAL HEALTH STRONG | Confinement alone is brutal on our mental health. As the fatigue from the ordeal of the pandemic sets in, our aggression and stress rise, and our depressions multiply. What can you do to relieve or better manage these symptoms?
- Keep Good Habits | Adapt your work habits, make sure you leave time for physical activity, and spend quality time with your family. Ensure you stick to regular weekly tasks and chores, making sure you leave time each day for some fresh air.
- Get Sufficient Sleep | Sleep is integral for our health. Good sleeping habits will allow your body to heal and renew, reversing some of the damage from daily stressors.
- Don’t Isolate Yourself | Even if it is impossible to see people in person, stay in touch with family, friends and colleagues via the phone or video conference. Speak freely about how you are doing and feeling; enjoy the interchange of encouragement. Think about how you can bring a little sunshine to someone’s day. Send a card, give them a call, or leave a little gift on their doorstep. It’s essential to keep in touch and remain connected to one another.
- Look on the Bright Side | Rather than focus on the negative, especially the negative aspects we can’t control, look for the silver lining. Maybe this time at home has allowed you more time to complete home projects. Perhaps it’s the perfect opportunity to pick up a hobby you’ve been wanting to try. Spend more quality time as a family. Adopting a positive attitude can completely change your outlook, and you will come out stronger on the other side of this ordeal.
If, despite everything, you still don’t feel better or can’t get a handle on your mental health, it’s imperative that you ask for help. There are so many programs available as a result of how difficult this pandemic has been. Take advantage of them!
HOW TO MAINTAIN FINANCIAL HEALTH | For so many, the pandemic has damaged their financial health. Have you experienced a layoff or job loss? A cut in salary? Here are a few suggestions to help you get back on top of your finances.
- Make A Budget | A budget is a crucial element for everyone, regardless of their financial status. It helps you keep an overview of your income and expenses, allowing you to adjust as necessary.
- Reduce Expenses | If you have experienced a cut in income, review your budget to see if you can reduce expenses. Sometimes a few small changes are all it takes—for example, cutting back on eating out, morning coffees, and the like. Other times it may require more drastic adjustments, maybe finding a cheaper apartment or selling your car.
- Don’t Forget the Taxes | If you are on employment insurance or other government programs, make sure to set aside the amount or percentage you will have to pay back at tax time.
- Contact Your Financial Institution | Since the start of the pandemic, financial institutions have developed programs to prevent their clients from going into excessive debt, losing their homes, etc. Contact your bank to see how they can lighten your load. They most likely will offer you a deferral on your mortgage, a reduction of interest rates, or other helpful solutions.
- Create an Emergency Fund | An emergency fund is vital for events like we’ve experienced during the pandemic. Even starting small is an excellent way to avoid further debt. When a car repair or other emergency comes up, you will have some backing that does not involve credit. If you haven’t managed to save enough for your present struggle, consider a simple online loan. You can even take advantage of these loans without a stable credit history.
STAY IN SHAPE, STAY HEALTHY, IT WILL ALL BE OKAY | The last year has been a difficult one for each one of us. Don’t let that get the better of you.
Keep a positive attitude, stick to a good routine and healthy habits, and make sound financial decisions. You will come out of this pandemic stronger than ever before, lessening the overall negative impact.