Practicing Healthy Digital Habits During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Traditional and non-traditional methods to improve physical and mental health during a quarantine

By Kelli McNair, NCPHC Communication Coordinator

Mother With Baby Working In Office At Home – photo provided by Kelli McNair via stock.adobe.com

Many of us are finding ourselves in quarantine with instructions to only seek food and medical attention if we must go out. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, your eyes may be glued to your televisions, phones, computers, and tablets more than ever. Technology has made it possible for parents to homeschool their children, is keeping us in touch with our loved ones since that big family dinner had to be cancelled, and turning all those meetings that could have been emails back to being meetings with virtual conference calls. The March of Dimes NC Preconception Health Campaign (NCPHC) preaches that we should strive to live a healthy life and being quarantined may make that just a little more difficult.

Once upon a time, devices were a luxurious convenience. As of February 2019, 96% of people own a cellphone and 81% of those are smartphones, not to mention we are living in a world that is always “on” 1. According to the Pew Research Center, 81% of Americans say they go online on a daily basis including the 28% of Americans who go online almost constantly2. This can be overwhelming for some people who may be likely to experience fatigue, anxiety, stress, and depression3. We have become dependent on our devices. To improve this dependence, we must take control of our digital wellness. This requires self-control, and for some of us, tools for help.

Guess where some of those tools live? That’s right! On your device. For example, Google offers an array of digital tools for their users to limit the amount of time that you and your family spend online according to your specifications by helping families understand their tech use a little better, disconnect from technology when they want to, and help to foster healthy habits for the entire family4. Even some doctors prescribe phone applications as a part of health and wellness to do things like track exercise, sleep, and fitness5. Apps that may be of use to alleviate fatigue, anxiety, stress, and depression include:

  1. YouTube and Burn Fitness, who have an array of channels and videos which provide workout classes like yoga, dance, and strength training;
  2. Meditopia, for guided meditations;
  3. My Possible Self, which helps people who may have concerns for their mental health;
  4. Sleep Cycle, to help people understand their sleeping patterns and improve their habits;
  5. Talkspace, to connect with therapists and counselors without stepping a foot out of your home; and
  6. Smoke Free, if you’re looking for help with quitting smoking.

Staying inside does not have to mean that you are confined to the couch. It can mean improving your relationship with your fitness and overall health. The most important thing that NCPHC teaches in our “Take Care of Yourself” toolkit is being active for at least 30 minutes per day. While we are required to steer clear of gathering spots, we can still take a walk or bike ride around the neighborhood or run up and down the stairs if your home has them. Taking care of yourself during this confusing time also includes:

  1. Eating healthy foods;
  2. Reducing stress (hint: this can be achieved with exercise7);
  3. Having regular checkups with your healthcare provider;
  4. Quitting smoking; and,
  5. Taking a multivitamin with 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid.

With all that said, there is no need to sit around twiddling your thumbs. Let’s start tackling your health concerns, improving your healthy habits regimen, and working on your relationship with your devices. Your body, inside and out, will thank you for it!

Sources

  1. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/mobile/
  2. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/07/25/americans-going-online-almost-constantly/
  3. https://www.washington.edu/studentlife/digital-wellness-101-sr/
  4. https://wellbeing.google/tools/
  5. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26652332?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents
  6. http://everywomannc.org/your-health/take-care-of-yourself/
  7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469

Disclaimer: The apps mentioned in this article are used for reference purposes only. NCPHC does not endorse any apps or the claims made by the companies, their owners, and/or their advertisers.

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