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If your clothes are getting a little tighter and you’re spending twice your usual grocery budget, know that you are not alone. Many of us have been consuming an excess of alcohol and sugary sweets to pass time and feel comfortable during self-isolation. We also can’t forget about our new habit – baking sourdough bread on a bi-weekly basis.
But when the stay-at-home order is lifted and you can start working at the office again, you’ll need to feel confident in your professional work slacks.
Naturopath Dr. Michelle Salga offers five tips that can help you avoid the dreadful “Quarantine 15.” (Salga is available for an e-consultation through the Tia Health website for naturopathic services.)
This is a tough one, especially since streaming services have been releasing tons of new shows and movies for those heeding public-health officials’ calls to stay home. Salga advises her patients to limit the time they spend watching television to one hour per day.
Instead, head outdoors or get some physical activity. “Studies have found that 60 minutes of walking per day is comparable to the mood heightening effects of an antidepressant,” says Salga. “Along with boosting your mood, walking also promotes circulation, will keep your appetite in check, and burn a good amount of calories.”
Salga also suggests laying out your workout clothes the evening before and creating a designated workout area with your equipment. By doing so, you’ll find it harder to make excuses and will be constantly reminded to exercise.
Say sayonara to masking your anxiety and stress with a preposterous amount of bite-sized chocolate bars.
“Snacking in front of the television and feeding your emotions are common mistakes that can cause added pounds over a period of time,” she says. “It’s important to fill your fridge and cupboards with healthy foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, hummus, lean meats, and nuts that contain healthy fats.”
There are also certain foods with mood-boosting properties that you can add to your diet if you feel sluggish, including:
Salga also advises her patients to avoid refined sugars commonly found in candies, pastries, white bread, white pasta and desserts. “These can cause highs and lows in blood-sugar levels, which can contribute to agitation, anxiety, mood swings, and an energy crash.”
As the days start to blend together, Salga suggests getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night. “It’s important to practise proper sleep hygiene, which means going to bed close to the same time every night and waking at the same time every morning,” says Salga. “This is a healthy practice for your adrenal glands, the glands in your body that respond to stress and produce cortisol.”
You should also try to wrap up your social media scrolling a few hours before you go to sleep. “Don’t take any electronics to bed as the light from the device disrupts the natural circadian productions of melatonin, which is the hormone that provides a more restful sleep,” says Salga.
Drinking alcohol is not a healthy way to cope with a pandemic-related change in routine.
“Despite the fact that wine contains antioxidants, alcohol can be a depressant and may actually make you feel worse,” says Salga. “Some people also experience swelling and inflammation after a night of drinking, which can leave you in a position where you feel groggy, depressed and unwell the next morning.”
Alcoholic beverages can also contain a lot of calories so opt for a tumbler of water instead. “Refrain from drinking during the week and treat yourself on the weekend with a glass of wine if needed,” she says. “Try substituting alcohol with sparkling water or kombucha in a wine glass so you can still feel like you’re having a little treat.”
Dedicate some time each day for self-care. Whether you relax by having a bath, taking your dog for a walk or sweeping the entire house, find something that helps you unwind.
“Take this time to rejuvenate and regenerate,” says Salga. “Many of us were burning the candle at both ends and now we have an opportunity to slow down, relax, and enjoy our hobbies.”
By changing your perspective of self-isolation, you’ll experience less pandemic-related anxiety and worry, which could lead to over-indulging. “Try to leave this quarantine experience a better person than how you entered it,” says Salga. “So make the right choices now so that you’ll feel your best when things get back to the new norm.”
Canadians can e-meet with Dr. Michelle Salga by scheduling an online or phone appointment through the telehealth platform Tia Health.