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Maintaining Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic 
So there’s a pandemic, and you are stuck at home with limited options, except for snacking all day or possibly having a cocktail before noon. While it was all fun at the beginning with virtual happy hours, staying up late to binge on the latest Netflix show, or watching hundreds of Tik Tok videos. If one continues to overindulge in such activities, it can wreak havoc on your health and may increase feelings of despair and depression. This article will explore healthier ways to cope during our current existence and offer productive suggestions for occupying our time. 
 

The Cure For Boredom 
There are no two words that irritated my mother more than “I’m bored” when I was a child. These words signaled an opportunity for her to assign new tasks like cleaning, doing yard work, or God forbid, volunteering through our local church. Thus, I learned to avoid sharing my boredom qualms with my mother. Presently, we all are struggling with feelings of boredom, even with our numerous responsibilities such as children, work, and school. In essence, everything has changed about how we choose to entertain ourselves, and when technology becomes our only option for escape, it begins to lose its value. 
 
So, what do we do? It seems that my mother’s instincts in response to boredom were correct, as helping around the house or volunteering in my community gave me purpose. Now is the perfect time to figure out how you can help those around you. Do you have vulnerable neighbors who are unable to get groceries for themselves? Do you have skills like sewing to make masks for essential workers? Would you be willing to make phone calls or mail handwritten notes to lift the spirits of others? If you are unemployed, would you consider becoming an essential worker? The options are limitless, and exploring how we can be useful at this time is an excellent solution to boredom.
 

Investing In Yourself 
Now is also the perfect time to explore how you can grow as a person. Part of identifying how you can evolve will involve developing your current skill sets through education or vocational training. Are you interested in becoming a teacher, exploring careers in the healthcare field, or becoming an entrepreneur? There are numerous pathways to gaining new skills through colleges, online training, YouTube videos, and vocational programs. Spend time doing your research to align your interest with an educational path that works for you. Start writing that personal statement, update your resume, start studying for a standardized test, or seek out those individuals who can draft a letter of reference. 
 
These initial steps will undoubtedly fill up your time, and exploring career paths can be very fulfilling. There are very few times in our lives where we have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves. Unfortunately, this time also comes along with the worldwide devastation caused by COVID-19 and not knowing when or if things will return to the way they were. Nonetheless, we can take steps to be in a better place when the pandemic does end. Can you imagine the feeling of accomplishment you might feel if that degree you always wanted to obtain began now?
 

Investing In Your Health  
People, it's time to put down the cake and pick up the carrots, but seriously, staying healthy has never been more critical than now. As we already know, COVID-19 can become fatal for those with comorbidities such as diabetes and obesity. Habits such as smoking can also complicate the devastation that COVID-19 has on the lungs. The first step in investing in your health means taking an inventory of those habits that are not healthy. Take time to write down the habits you can't seem to break away from or the newly created unhealthy habits brought on by the pandemic. Consider reaching out to your medical provider, exploring healthy online recipes, and taking advantage of all the free online mental health resources available to us all (see below). 
 
The Global Healthy Living Foundation is an excellent resource for addressing anxiety, addiction issues, recommendations for health conditions, and crisis intervention assistance. SAMHSA's National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Eatright.org provides resources on how to make food last longer, safe shopping food guides, kid-friendly cooking options, healthy meals, and getting groceries during the quarantine. 
 
Finally, if you find yourself struggling with making healthy food choices or drinking a little more than usual, the best option is to avoid bringing these temptations to your home. This can certainly be harder to achieve if you have children or a partner who doesn't share your views on getting healthy. The best way to meet this challenge is to involve the whole family in finding healthy and delicious snacks. To get started, consider these healthy snack options discussed by Snacknation.com or exploring these easy family-friendly snack recipes through Makeandtakes.com
 
The food choices we make at this time can also help to boost our immune systems and prevent illness. The Harvard Medical School, Healthline.com, and UT Southwestern Medical Center offer resources on how to increase your immunity through healthy food options.
https://utswmed.org/medblog/easy-immune-boosting-food-covid19/
 

Get Moving At Home  
As states begin to reopen and gym options are once again available, many will take advantage of this change to kickstart their health. Others may want to continue avoiding the gym to maintain social distancing until they feel comfortable being among others again. If you find yourself in the latter category, there are plenty of free options in getting moving, even if you live in a small apartment. Firstly, consider walking. Free apps such as Pedometer, track your steps and calculate calories burned and miles walked. You can even set reminders for walking and establish daily goals. To illustrate how beneficial walking can be, a 160lb person who walks about 30 minutes, which is equivalent to around 4,000 steps, can expect to burn roughly 174 calories. To estimate how many calories you can burn from walking at your weight, take a look at this guide from VeryFitWell
 
YouTube is a fantastic resource to do yoga, kickboxing, and weight-bearing exercises for free. There are classes for individuals at all fitness levels and numerous options to fit your idea of a great workout. Nike also offers a free workout app for a limited time due to the pandemic. There are dozens of other free apps and workout platforms available to the public due to COVID 19 advertised through WireCutter. You can also invest in at-home workout equipment such as dumbbells, stationary bikes, and resistance bands. In the end, find what works for you and don’t feel pressured to start doing exhaustive two-hour workout sessions to make up for lost time. Focus on doable and enjoyable activities that you will maintain. 
 

Local Resources 
If you are struggling to get the food you need during the pandemic, the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee offers healthy meals and snacks seven days a week. It has also expanded its emergency food box program to meet the needs of the community due to COVID 19. If you need immediate assistance from Second Harvest, please call 615.329.3491. Emergency food assistance and numerous other resources, such as applying for SNAP, can also be found at Nashville.Gov
https://www.secondharvestmidtn.org/the-produce-truck/

We, the VUSN Community Health Nursing Students, miss you all, but want to support you from a far! Please reach out to Brittany.J.Haskell@vanderbilt.edu with newsletter feedback or ideas for upcoming topics. Until next week, take care of yourselves!
Copyright © 2020 VUSN Community Health Students, All rights reserved.

Our emailing address is:
Brittany.J.Haskell@vanderbilt.edu