By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
The Covid-19 pandemic has completely transformed how we socialize and connect with others, particularly with elderly people. Lockdown measures and social distancing means dads on lockdown requires a little more planning and precautions. Isolation from loved ones can have a negative impact on people’s mental health, so it is important to prioritize wellness—both mental and physical.
The importance of mental health and wellness has never been more important than now. Currently, people are under significant amounts of stress due to the social and economic effects of Covid-19. However, it is important to manage stress levels and remain calm while following the recommended safety tips. Poor mental health can exacerbate all kinds of other problems, such as money, family, and relationship problems.
There is still a stigma around discussing mental health issues, particularly with regard to men’s mental health. There is an underlying belief in many people that men vocalizing about mental health problems are not as strong or independent as those who keep silent. This is far from the truth.
Poor mental health can directly lead to poor physical health, which is not ideal during a pandemic. Did you know that chronic stress can lead to suppressed immune function? While you can supplement your diet with immunity-boosters, this would make it easier to catch a viral or bacterial infection.
There are many variables affecting mental health, such as emotional wellness, social wellness, and physical wellness. Physical wellness includes factors like diet, sleep, and exercise. Social and emotional wellness have to do with processing emotions in a healthy way and maintaining close relationships. Take a look at these tips for helping dads balance their mental health during the pandemic lockdown.
Your sleep cycle has a major impact on mental health because it affects hormone regulation, which in turn affects mood. Sleep deprivation is a major issue for a lot of Americans these days, affecting as much as 18% of adults.
Sleep problems seem to, however, be worse among those with poor mental health. This will in turn worsen their conditions and create a vicious cycle. Between 50%–80% of patients in psychiatric clinics suffer from sleep deprivation. Some disorders that may worsen with insomnia include depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders.
Apart from worsening mental health, other sleep deprivation effects include a harder time losing weight, as well as an increased risk of diabetes and obesity. So, how can you try to sleep better? It’s important to keep in mind that sleep disorders are very complex and there are almost 70 sleep disorders out there. If the problem is severe, it is best to consult a doctor.
However, there are some tweaks you can make to make it easier to fall asleep. Some tips for sleeping better include weighted blankets, curtains to block out light, and plugging off devices an hour or so before going to bed. If people are feeling generous, then you might ask for some new sheets or blankets to help you sleep better. “Sleep rituals” also prove effective, with things like journaling or meditating.
If you are not careful during this lockdown period, poor mental health and a poor diet can form a vicious cycle for dads, too, much like poor sleep. Chronic stress can put you off eating healthy, and a poor diet in turn will exacerbate stress due to nutrient deficiencies. So, it’s never too early to start eating healthy, and perseverance pays off—both mentally and physically.
Eating a diet full of antioxidant-rich food is essential for your physical health as well as mental health. Antioxidants are compounds that combat the negative effects caused by chronic stress, such as tissue damage.
Common antioxidants include Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as others like lycopene (found in tomatoes and red vegetables or fruits). They are found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Incorporate as many colorful vegetables as you can. You can also use supplements like UPGRAID that contain powerful antioxidants like turmeric.
Other nutrition tips include avoiding hidden sugars or processed fats and incorporating foods that lower inflammation. Inflammatory foods include sugars, refined carbs, and trans fats. These foods make the effects of mental stress even worse on the body since stress itself leads to inflammation.
Foods that combat inflammation also lead to better heart health. Some of these heart-healthy foods include fatty fish, nuts, and seeds that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce bad cholesterol and improve good cholesterol.
Not only are they heart-healthy, they are also great for your brain. They are used to make the fatty covering that surrounds brain cells. Fish such as salmon and mackerel are very rich in these fatty acids. Walnuts and chia seeds are also decent sources of Omega-3s.
Aside from physical wellness, emotional and social wellness is vital for health. Humans thrive on connecting and networking with others. While social distancing rules mean that social gatherings are very limited, modern technology has made it possible to connect with others virtually.
Platforms like Zoom and Google Meet are designed to create virtual gatherings and events, with some even having weddings over the platform. You can extend virtual invites to as many family members as you want to your event. It also allows events to be recorded, so that you can go back and relive the happy memories. This video explains how you can throw a virtual dinner party via Zoom.
If you want to spruce up your celebrations some more, you can arrange other virtual activities your dad may like. Some companies, for example, are holding virtual golf lessons, while others are offering virtual tours of parks and museums.
Special occasions will bring a lot of joy and treasured memories for your family. In the midst of the pandemic, it is more important than ever to feel connected with loved ones. This is important for emotional and social wellbeing in the middle of chaotic and uncertain times. Fortunately, current technology enables people across the world to celebrate special days virtually.