In 2020, taking care of my health has looked a little different than other years. With the global pandemic, I’ve realized that some health appointments need to be put on hold. To be honest, I’ve actually been avoiding going to the doctor’s office this year because of the pandemic.
For me personally, it’s especially important to keep up with my health maintenance as I have an autoimmune issue. Before I was diagnosed, I ignored my symptoms for years. If I’d taken action earlier, my health would have been in a much better spot. And this year, I want to stay as healthy as possible and keep my immune system in a good place now that venturing to a doctor’s office is difficult.
I want to share what I’m doing for my health that doesn’t involve a visit to a doctor’s office.
Take an at-home test (if you can)
I have a thyroid issue that affects the nutrients in my body, particularly vitamin B12 and vitamin D. When my levels are low, my symptoms start to get worse. Luckily, there are now at-home testing kits that allow me to see what my blood levels look like — and then supplement accordingly. I like this one by EverlyWell. While these aren’t as accurate or specific as doctor-issued labs, I was surprised at just how many at-home tests exist from blood tests to UTI tests.
Work on your mind-body connection through movement
My mental health is so closely linked to my physical health — so for me, finding ways to move my body at home always improves my mind-body connection. With yoga studios closed, I’ve turned to practicing yoga at home. It’s so easy to “skip” a class when you don’t have to physically go anywhere. However, by finding a class I really like, I rarely skip moving my body. I do Yoga with Adrienne and I have a friend who swears by this online health class membership. I also try to stretch as much as possible throughout the day.
Do a social media detox
During lockdown, I became more addicted to my phone than ever before, especially since it was the main way to connect with other people. Even after setting time limits on social media apps, I found myself hitting “Ignore Limit” almost every day.
So, I’ve been taking periodic three-day breaks. I put my phone on “Do Not Disturb,” delete all social media apps, and keep the device out of reach. I check it only twice per day and then leave it away from my bed at night. By the third day, I find myself feeling so much better mentally just from having a break from constant notifications.
Schedule one day per week with no to-do list
This health habit is one that’s truly changed my life. I’ve worked from home for the past few years, but for many people, this year was the first time experiencing remote work. I’ve found it becomes really easy to blur the lines between work life and home life — and my to-do list will just keep growing and growing. I started taking one day per week as a break from chores — no grocery shopping, dishes, laundry, catching up on email, or crossing off anything on my to-do list. I’m allowed to do whatever I want, but the only rule is: no plans. It’s like a weekly reset and it helps me enjoy a day where I’m not focused on getting anything “done.”
We’re living through challenging times. My overall stress level has increased exponentially this year, with everything from the global health crisis, to the violence against Black people that’s happening in this country, to the uncertainty of what lies ahead. It seems like there’s so much that needs to be fixed, and there’s not enough time to do it all — and worrying so much about the world takes a toll on my energy levels, especially as an empath.
One thing I’m practicing is getting more rest to improve my health. This looks like letting myself take a 20-minute nap on days when I need it, waking up an hour later, going to bed an hour earlier — wherever and however I can squeeze in more sleep, I do it. I keep track of my sleep, and if it’s less than my optimal seven to eight hours, I make myself rest during the afternoon, even if I don’t fall asleep.
If quarantine has taught me anything, it’s how frenetic and busy my life was before I was forced to stay at home — and it’s given me a new perspective on rest. I now see it as an essential part of my productivity, rather than a “waste of time.” It’s been so beneficial for my mental and physical health — and it’s a practice I hope to keep moving forward.
Note: If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or anything else that requires medical attention, then do not hesitate to go to the doctor, with proper precaution (a face mask and social distancing).