The Coronavirus pandemic has caused most of us to stay indoors to practice social and physical distancing. For some of us, working remotely, watching Netflix day and night during weekends, buying essentials online, and generally staying at home 24/7 have been the new normal. Though this may be necessary to keep us away from being affected by the pandemic, staying indoors has a lot of health implications – mentally and physically.
In this article, we will tackle the health implications of staying indoors and how to cope with them.
Impacts on Mental Health
First, on the list, and probably the biggest issue in staying indoors, is missing out on the health benefits of sunlight. Exposure to the sun is essential as it regulates our body’s internal clock, synthesizes vitamin D, and helps improve one’s mood.
Exposure to sunlight helps regulate our body’s circadian rhythm. Our body clock responds to stimuli like light and darkness. In the daylight, signals are sent through our bodies to keep us alert and awake. At night, our brain helps us sleep by releasing melatonin. Due to these, staying inside and keeping yourself away from the sun may cause sleep troubles. To solve this, opening the windows, stepping into the fresh air, or having a quick morning stroll may help us catch some z’s.
Your circadian rhythm can also affect your appetite. As a result of being sedentary, we may feel hungrier than usual or may lose appetite. Some tend to overindulge in junk food, and some skip meals. To stay in this lifestyle for a prolonged period may cause weight problems.
To combat this, remember to eat right as this can increase energy levels, and include more movements into your routine by stretching every half hour or so or stand at your desk for a part of the day. Exercising can make you feel less hungry. Ensure that proper nutrition is maintained by fatty snacks and by drinking plenty of water.
Living a sedentary lifestyle and being less social tend to have negative impacts on our moods. To be able to increase the level of serotonin, or the mood-boosting neurotransmitter, sunlight is needed. Low levels of serotonin are usually linked with mood swings and depression.
Cooping inside for great lengths of time can build up anxiety and restlessness. Feeling restless can also make one become more irritable and upset than usual by seemingly minor things. Too much time alone and being too occupied by screen-based activities, make us withdraw from friends and loved ones, which is linked to social anxiety. The isolation imposed by staying at home leaves people feeling that they have no control over the situation. Some also seem to be unable to perform the usual duties.
Exposure to daylight can help regulate the body’s natural cycles, and exercise releases endorphins, creating a natural dose of happy pill. A green environment such as parks and mountain views also helps fight off symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Impacts on Physical Health
Weak Immune System
Vitamin D is key in building a robust immune system. Neglecting this and being Vitamin D deficient can make it more challenging to fight illnesses. Sunlight has shown to improve the immune system naturally and reduce inflammation levels.
Older adults who are inactive may be more likely to suffer from Osteoporosis or bone weakness. While moderate exercise will prevent it, it would be great to do your part now, so you don’t take a toll on your health later.
Staying indoors puts a lot of pressure on your spine and may lead to back pain and posture issues. Sitting puts huge stress on your back muscles, neck, and spine; slouching makes it worse. It would be great if you have an ergonomic chair that can support your back. Nonetheless, sitting, no matter how comfortable it can be, is not food for your spine. Get up and move around for a minute or two every half hour to keep your spine in line.
How to Cope
It is vital to establish a routine that can help you stay healthy, mentally, and physically. Many problems can be eased by moving around and getting enough sunlight, so make sure to include these in your daily routine. Other coping ideas are doing at-home workouts, monitoring your appetite and diet using a mobile app, doing some brain teasers, and trying out new hobbies.
Getting things done can provide a sense of purpose, so it may also help to set small achievable goals. It does not only give you something to work toward and look forward to.
It is also essential to communicate with others. Though we need to maintain physical distancing, we can still be together socially through various online platforms. Staying in contact with other people, not only relieves boredom but is also a crucial part in reducing the sense of isolation and talking to others who are experiencing the same thing-provides a sense of unity and empowerment.
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