The COVID-19 pandemic means that many of us are staying at home and doing less in terms of social interactions and exercise. This can have a negative effect on your physical and mental health.
Below is advice to help you and your family to stay healthy at home during this period of confinement.
HealthyAtHome - Physical activity
The COVID-19 pandemic means that many of us are staying at home and sitting down more than we usually do. It’s hard for a lot of us to do the sort of exercise we normally do. It’s even harder for people who don’t usually do a lot of physical exercise.
But at a time like this, it’s very important for people of all ages and abilities to be as active as possible. WHO’s Be Active campaign aims to help you do just that - and to have some fun at the same time.
Remember - Just taking a short break from sitting, by doing 3-4 minutes of light intensity physical movement, such as walking or stretching, will help ease your muscles and improve blood circulation and muscle activity.
Regular physical activity benefits both the body and mind. It can reduce high blood pressure, help manage weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers - all conditions that can increase susceptibility to COVID-19.
It also improves bone and muscle strength and increases balance, flexibility and fitness. For older people, activities that improve balance help to prevent falls and injuries.
Regular physical activity can help give our days a routine and be a way to stay in contact with family and friends. It’s also good for our mental health - reducing the risk of depression, cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia - and improve overall feelings.
As countries introduce measures to restrict movement as part of efforts to reduce the number of people infected with COVID-19, more and more of us are making huge changes to our daily routines.
The new realities of working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling of children, and lack of physical contact with other family members, friends and colleagues take time to get used to. Adapting to lifestyle changes such as these, and managing the fear of contracting the virus and worry about people close to us who are particularly vulnerable, are challenging for all of us. They can be particularly difficult for people with mental health conditions.
Fortunately, there are lots of things that we can do to look after our own mental health and to help others who may need some extra support and care.
Here are tips and advice that we hope you will find useful.
- Keep informed. Listen to advice and recommendations from your national and local authorities. Follow trusted news channels, such as local and national TV and radio, and keep up-to-date with the latest news from @WHO on social media.
- Have a routine. Keep up with daily routines as far as possible, or make new ones.
- Get up and go to bed at similar times every day.
- Keep up with personal hygiene.
- Eat healthy meals at regular times.
- Exercise regularly.
- Allocate time for working and time for resting.
- Make time for doing things you enjoy.
- Minimize newsfeeds. Try to reduce how much you watch, read or listen to news that makes you feel anxious or distressed. Seek the latest information at specific times of the day, once or twice a day if needed.
- Social contact is important. If your movements are restricted, keep in regular contact with people close to you by telephone and online channels.
- Alcohol and drug use. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink or don’t drink alcohol at all. Don’t start drinking alcohol if you have not drunk alcohol before. Avoid using alcohol and drugs as a way of dealing with fear, anxiety, boredom and social isolation.
There is no evidence of any protective effect of drinking alcohol for viral or other infections. In fact, the opposite is true as the harmful use of alcohol is associated with increased risk of infections and worse treatment outcomes.
And be aware that alcohol and drug use may prevent you from taking sufficient precautions to protect yourself again infection, such as compliance with hand hygiene.
- Screen time. Be aware of how much time you spend in front of a screen every day. Make sure that you take regular breaks from on-screen activities.
- Video games. While video games can be a way to relax, it can be tempting to spend much more time on them than usual when at home for long periods. Be sure to keep the right balance with off-line activities in your daily routine.
- Social media. Use your social media accounts to promote positive and hopeful stories. Correct misinformation wherever you see it.
- Help others. If you are able to, offer support to people in your community who may need it, such as helping them with food shopping.
- Support health workers. Take opportunities online or through your community to thank your country’s health-care workers and all those working to respond to COVID-19.
Fear is a normal reaction in situations of uncertainty. But sometimes fear is expressed in ways which are hurtful to other people. Remember:
- Be kind. Don’t discriminate against people because of your fears of the spread of COVID-19.
- Don’t discriminate against people who you think may have coronavirus.
- Don’t discriminate against health workers. Health workers deserve our respect and gratitude.
- COVID-19 has affected people from many countries. Don’t attribute it to any specific group.
Why should you quit smoking and how can you do it?
Smokers have a higher risk of getting coronavirus because they are constantly putting their hands to their lips.
And then, if they get coronavirus, they run a greater risk of getting a severe case because their lung function is impaired.
Quit today to reduce these risks and start living a healthier life.
Quick tips to curb your cravings:
- Delay: Delay as long as you can before giving in to your urge.
- Deep breathing: Take 10 deep breaths to relax yourself from within until the urge passes.
- Drink water: Drinking water is a healthy alternative to sticking a cigarette in your mouth.
- Do something else to distract yourself: Take a shower, read, go for a walk, listen to music!
There are many resources within your own community. Find out if your healthcare providers, Quit line Counsellors, mCessation programmes are available to support you in your journey to quit.
Across the world, due to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), children are affected by physical distancing, quarantines and nationwide school closures.
Some children and young people may be feeling more isolated, anxious, bored and uncertain.They may feel fear, and grief, over the impact of the virus on their families.
Working with our partners, WHO will bring you content to help open the world of isolation. Watch out for resources and ideas to support parents and projects that will engage children in understanding the coronavirus, the challenges it brings to their world and what can be done to protect them.
We will also introduce children to creative content that will entertain and provide a much-needed escape into the fun and magical worlds of imagination.
Eating a healthy diet is very important during the COVID-19 pandemic. What we eat and drink can affect our body’s ability to prevent, fight and recover from infections.
While no foods or dietary supplements can prevent or cure COVID-19 infection, healthy diets are important for supporting immune systems. Good nutrition can also reduce the likelihood of developing other health problems, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.
For babies, a healthy diet means exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months, with the introduction of nutritious and safe foods to complement breastmilk from age 6 months to 2 years and beyond. For young children, a healthy and balanced diet is essential for growth and development. For older people, it can help to ensure healthier and more active lives.
Tips for maintaining a healthy diet:
1. Eat a variety of food, including fruits and vegetables
• Every day, eat a mix of wholegrains like wheat, maize and rice, legumes like lentils and beans, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables , with some foods from animal sources (e.g. meat, fish, eggs and milk).
• Choose wholegrain foods like unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat and brown rice when you can; they are rich in valuable fibre and can help you feel full for longer.
• For snacks, choose raw vegetables, fresh fruit, and unsalted nuts.
2. Cut back on salt
• Limit salt intake to 5 grams (equivalent to a teaspoon) a day.
• When cooking and preparing foods, use salt sparingly and reduce use of salty sauces and condiments (like soy sauce, stock or fish sauce).
• If using canned or dried food, choose varieties of vegetables, nuts and fruit, without added salt and sugars.
• Remove the salt shaker from the table, and experiment with fresh or dried herbs and spices for added flavor instead.
• Check the labels on food and choose products with lower sodium content.
3. Eat moderate amounts of fats and oils
• Replace butter, ghee and lard with healthier fats like olive, soy, sunflower or corn oil when cooking.
• Choose white meats like poultry and fish which are generally lower in fats than red meat; trim meat of visible fat and limit the consumption of processed meats.
• Select low-fat or reduced-fat versions of milk and dairy products.
• Avoid processed, baked and fried foods that contain industrially produced trans-fat.
• Try steaming or boiling instead of frying food when cooking.
4. Limit sugar intake
• Limit intake of sweets and sugary drinks such as fizzy drinks, fruit juices and juice drinks, liquid and powder concentrates, flavoured water, energy and sports drinks, ready-to-drink tea and coffee and flavoured milk drinks.
• Choose fresh fruits instead of sweet snacks such as cookies, cakes and chocolate. When other dessert options are chosen, ensure that they are low in sugar and consume small portions.
• Avoid giving sugary foods to children. Salt and sugars should not be added to complementary foods given to children under 2 years of age, and should be limited beyond that age.
5. Stay hydrated: Drink enough water
Good hydration is crucial for optimal health. Whenever available and safe for consumption, tap water is the healthiest and cheapest drink. Drinking water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages is a simple way to limit your intake of sugar and excess calories.
6. Avoid hazardous and harmful alcohol useAlcohol is not a part of a healthy diet. Drinking alcohol does not protect against COVID-19 and can be dangerous. Frequent or excessive alcohol consumption increases your immediate risk of injury, as well as causing longer-term effects like liver damage, cancer, heart disease and mental illness. There is no safe level of alcohol consumption.
7. Breastfeed babies and young children
Breastmilk is the ideal food for infants. It is safe, clean and contains antibodies which help protect against many common childhood illnesses. Babies should be breastfed exclusively during the first 6 months of life, as breast milk provides all the nutrients and fluids they need.
• From 6 months of age, breast milk should be complemented with a variety of adequate, safe and nutrient-dense foods. Breastfeeding should continue under babies at 2 years of age or beyond.
Women with COVID-19 can breastfeed if they wish to do so and should take infection prevention and control measures. Please see Q&A on breastfeeding and COVID-19