Slow down and focus on your overall health.

It’s easy to get swept up in all the latest news coverage and become anxious, especially when you’re receiving advice to self-quarantine and watching countless businesses temporarily close down. There is a silver lining in all of this, though—self-quarantine forces us to slow down, so it’s the perfect opportunity for you to take care of yourself. Implementing just a few positive habits into your daily routine can reduce your stress levels, boost your immune system, and help you stay healthier overall. Here are 10 tips you can practice at home to improve your overall health.

1. Make sure you get enough sleep every night.

On average, adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. You can generally tell how much sleep you need by paying attention to how you feel throughout the day; if you need caffeine to make it through work, you’re likely not getting enough sleep. You may need to adjust your schedule to ensure you get to bed a little earlier, but getting enough sleep every night will help you feel better. Regularly getting enough sleep improves your mood and strengthens your immune system, helping you stay healthier throughout the year.

2. Exercise every day.

Exercise has a wide range of benefits—it improves your physical health by helping you maintain a healthy weight, lowering your blood pressure, and reducing your chances of developing future health problems. It also strengthens your immune system and has proven benefits for your mental health. Going to the gym right now is not an option, but you can go for a short run in your neighborhood or practice yoga at home.

3. Stick to a healthy diet.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet that has a good mix of protein, grains, dairy, fruits, and vegetables keeps your daily calorie intake down and ensures that you have all of the vitamins and minerals you need to function. You certainly don’t have to give up your favorite sweet treats, but limiting them and focusing on healthier meals and snacks will help you feel more energetic throughout the day and will improve your health in the short and long term by giving your body all the elements it needs to function at its maximum potential.

4. Let yourself relax.

It might sound crazy, but high stress levels don’t just impact your mental health—they can negatively affect your immune system, too! As a result, cutting down on your stress levels by letting yourself relax can help you feel better mentally and physically. Make sure you spend some of your new-found free time practicing a hobby you find fun and relaxing, like painting, reading, or watching TV. Even dedicating a little time to decompressing will help you feel happier and more productive when it’s time to get back to work.

5. Get outside for a little fresh air.

While it’s a good idea to limit your contact with people, you don’t have to stay indoors completely either. Spending time outside is a great way to cure your cabin fever, making you feel less trapped and bored inside of your house, helping you soak up essential vitamin D, and improving your mood. Try to spend at least 15 minutes outside every day; you can get sunlight on your morning run, while you’re gardening, or even by sitting on your porch with a good book.

6. Wash your hands regularly.

It’s imperative you wash your hands regularly—even if you’re just at home. If you do need to go out in public for a grocery run or for work, you can limit your contact with germs by only touching what you need to, opening doors with your sleeve instead of your bare hands, and trying to remember not to touch your face in public. Hand sanitizer is a great tool when you’re out and about, but don’t rely on it entirely—it’s always best to use soap and water to wash your hands when you can.

7. Drink plenty of water.

Water is calorie-free and keeps you hydrated, but drinks like coffee, tea, and soda are often full of sugar and calories that can cause you to gain weight. They also often contain caffeine, which is a diuretic and won’t keep you hydrated. Drinking these kinds of beverages throughout the day gives the bacteria in your mouth a constant source of food; this makes your teeth and gums vulnerable to decay. You can stay hydrated and protect your oral health by drinking about half a gallon of water throughout the day and saving other drinks to have with meals.

8. Find ways to socialize.

When your schedule is busy with work, errands, and other obligations, it can be hard to find time to simply socialize, which can quickly make you feel isolated and lonely. Thankfully, you can dedicate a little of your new free time to socializing with your friends and family. Even if you live alone, you can socialize by video chatting or using the internet to set up a virtual game night, so you can still have a blast with your friends—all without leaving your house!

9. Unplug from technology.

It can be difficult to unwind with your phone constantly buzzing, and especially with all the news coverage, so let yourself put your phone on mute and simply relax. Reading a book, watching TV, or even painting without worrying about getting distracted by notifications or texts can be surprisingly refreshing.

10. Take care of your oral health.

Your oral health actually has a huge impact on your overall health, since untreated issues like gum disease can allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. Over time, this increases your likelihood of suffering from health issues like heart disease and stroke, and can make it harder to control existing issues like diabetes. As a result, investing in your oral health is vital for your overall health. While we’ve stopped seeing patients to help limit the spread of COVID-19, we will be taking calls to answer your oral health questions and to update you on the situation. In the meantime, however, you can continue to care for your oral health at home by sticking to a great oral hygiene routine, flossing and using mouthwash once a day, and brushing your teeth at least twice a day.

While it’s easy to focus on the negative, there’s a silver lining to almost any situation! If self-isolation has granted you a little—or a lot—of extra free time at home, you can use that time to build habits that will improve your health, boost your immune system, and lower your stress levels. That way, when the world kicks back into high gear, you’ll be ready to jump right back in!