COVID-19 Resources

How To Take Care Of Your Overall Health During COVID-19

Apr. 2, 2020

During this unprecedented time, it’s important to remember to take care of your overall health. 

But with physical/social distancing and self-quarantine now becoming everyday terms for the average family, it’s difficult to avoid feelings of isolation and anxiety. It’s also challenging to focus on taking care of your physical health.

Bernard Lenchitz, MD, vice president of the UC Health Primary Care Network and professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, knows these strict measures are difficult, but they will make a significant impact on preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). He has also seen firsthand how UC Health has taken every precaution to prepare for the pandemic.

“For nearly three weeks now, UC Health has been working non-stop to develop a clear direction to address this pandemic locally,” said Dr. Lenchitz, who’s been a primary care physician for 30 years. “We’re trying to slow the transmission, no matter how painful it is. If we do that, I think we can flatten the curve,” that is, reduce the rate of spread of the disease.

Dr. Lenchitz continues to work closely with UC Health’s primary care physicians to ensure patients receive the highest quality care while ensuring everyone’s safety. Most appointments are temporarily being done virtually. While many physicians work independently, they are continuing to collaborate together frequently to deliver patients the care they need.


Physical distancing vs. social distancing

In addition to tips that have become common knowledge, such as good hand hygiene, Dr. Lenchitz recommends people practice physical distancing.

While most people are familiar with the term social distancing, it’s instead important to understand that this is different from physical distancing. Although people should stay home and keep a physical distance of at least 6 feet from others, they should maintain social interactions with friends and family to prevent feeling isolated.

“Use technologies like Facebook and Instagram to connect with others—that’s important,” Dr. Lenchitz said. “This is more about physical distancing and not social distancing.”

If you have a smartphone or tablet, you’ll be able to use various applications to connect virtually with your friends and family. Using apps such as FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Facebook and Skype will allow you to socialize with anyone you want without placing anyone at risk of violating social distancing policies or potentially spreading COVID-19.

However, if you aren’t able to use video chats, you can still talk on the phone, send messages over social media or even write and mail letters. Just because you aren’t able to physically see your loved ones, doesn’t mean that you can stay in touch with them.


Your physical and mental health

Dr. Lenchitz also notes that while physical and mental health are often considered distinct, they are equally important. You need to take care of both in order to remain healthy and to decrease your chances of contracting COVID-19.

“I’m not sure you can separate the two. I look at them as one and the same,” said Dr. Lenchitz.

It may seem impossible to try to keep your sanity while remaining at home for an extended period of time. But you can still remain healthy if you do the right things. Continue to remain in contact with family members, do light physical activities and even consider meditation.

Dr. Lenchitz recommends trying moderate-intensity workouts, such as yoga. With spring finally here, he also suggests getting fresh air and going on short walks, while keeping a physical distance of 6 feet apart. You should still try to do as many of the things you would do before a stay-at-home order.


Stay home, eat healthy, sleep well

While you’re at home in self-quarantine, trying to manage your overall health during the pandemic, it might be easy to lose track of the basics such as eating and sleeping habits.

Regardless of the circumstances, you should always maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of rest each night. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and try not to binge eat unhealthy snacks. Combining this with physical activity should allow you to stay as healthy as possible and less likely to become ill.

If you do ever feel under the weather, even from just the common cold, you should get additional rest to allow your body to fully recover. Bed rest can help you feel better physically and mentally. Use cough drops or hard candies, reduce your fever and use petroleum jelly on sore skin to help care for symptoms like cough, fever and muscle aches.

In the event that you become sicker and experience symptoms like severe shortness of breath, chest pain, confusion or discoloration of your face and lips, call 911 or emergency services. UC Health’s primary care physicians are also still able to see patients if needed. You should call your doctor or send them a message through your My UC Health (MyChart) account.


Leave the house with caution

Eventually, you may need to leave the house to pick up groceries or your medications. If that’s the case, make sure to remember to physically distance yourself from others while you’re out. Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Bring hand sanitizer with you, or if the store has it, use it before touching carts or baskets. Wipe down the handles of carts with disinfectant wipes. If you’re not feeling well, wear a face mask if you have one to protect others from your symptoms. When you arrive home, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Although this has been one of the most unique challenges he’s seen in his long career, Dr. Lenchitz believes that if you do these things, you will be able to maintain your physical and mental health while we all eagerly wait to return to some form of normal life.

“Take the simple steps, and we can overcome this together,” Dr. Lenchitz said.