The Lockdown’s Effect on Mental Health

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Lockdowns, gyms being closed, holidays alone, and being separated from classmates, friends, and family members are just a few of the factors that have made the pandemic extremely hard on mental health. In fact, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the pandemic.

Let’s take a closer look now at the impact COVID-19 is having on mental health.

Anxiety and Depression During the Lockdown

Before the pandemic had even made it to the United States, it was wreaking havoc on the mental health of people in China. Half a dozen studies with more than 10,000 respondents showed that people experienced worse mental health problems than before the pandemic, including high symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Up to half of the respondents showed serious signs of depression, and 35 percent showed serious anxiety. Studies find that the stress and anxiety fueled by the pandemic also cause poor sleep, creating a vicious cycle. The more we lay awake worrying at night, concerned about the pandemic, the worse our mental health becomes.

Loneliness During the Lockdown

Stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and travel restrictions have left people feeling more isolated than normal. 1 in 7 U.S. adults said they were often or always feeling lonely in April 2020, up more than 25 percent from 2018. However, we also saw a shift to more FaceTime calls and Zoom hangouts, and these things contributed to respondents in a separate study reporting feelings of “remarkable resilience.” So, not only did they not become lonely during the pandemic, but they gained a greater sense of community support.

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Domestic Violence During the Lockdown

Another unfortunate side effect of the pandemic and a major contributor to stress, shame, and anxiety is a spike in domestic violence worldwide. Sixty percent of people who were experiencing domestic violence pre-pandemic report the violence worsened during the pandemic. This is likely caused by increased stress, unemployment, spending more time at home, and shelters being forced to close their doors. The threat of abuse compounds the stress, anxiety, and fear that a lot of victims were already experiencing during the pandemic.

The Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19 are Worse for Disadvantaged Groups

Researchers worldwide set out to discover what else was making people vulnerable to mental health issues during COVID-19. They found that among the risk factors were people with poor health or chronic conditions who have a higher tendency of stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

Researchers also found education and income played a role. The less stable the income and education, studies showed, the more anxiety, depression, and stress experienced.

Vital Self-Care Tools

  • If you can’t physically see loved ones doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself. Lean on virtual chats with tools like Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime.
  • Physical activity is vital for mental health so make sure to make time for it even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. We can mental health, mental health awareness month, mental health services, mental health quotesnever underestimate the power of physical activity on our mental and emotional well-being.
  • Taking a moment each day for positive reflection will ensure that a part of each day has been dedicated to your well-being.
  • Don’t hesitate to create a support system with friends, family and others who can relate.  Seek out online support groups.
  • Talk to your health care professional who can guide you through these difficult times and give you more resources.
  • Eating a healthy well balanced diet will create a positive environment from inside out.

Effects of Lockdowns on Teen Nutrition

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Covid lockdowns have either been a hit or miss amongst teenagers. Some have taken these lockdowns as an opportunity to self-improve, while others have fallen into poor habits. Many have found themselves binge-eating and snacking frequently due to boredom, oftentimes these snacks are not the healthiest choices either. In addition, the lack of physical activity along with poor eating habits and nutrition will further result in a major increase in diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular pathologies, etc. in the upcoming generation of young adults.

Symptoms of Poor  Teen Nutrition

 

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Poor nutrition alone in teens can result in:

  • Skin problems (acne)
  • Poor bone health
  • Decrease in growth
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Mental health issues
  • Emotional health issues
  • Increased weight
  • Decreased energy

Furthermore, proper nutrition has been proven to help improve mental health and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and overall increase emotional health and energy. Being in lockdown, many teens have been experiencing a range of mental health issues, all of which can be bettered with proper nutrition. In a study conducted in 2013, it was found that teenagers who avoided eating processed foods and sugar while consuming a diet that consisted of a large number of vegetables, fruits, fish and grains had a 25-35% lower risk of developing depression than those who had poor nutritional diets.

How to improve teen nutrition and overall health

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The challenge is not only in the choices that teenagers are making, but also for parents and families to create a healthy food environment and help guide these adolescents to develop the fundamental skills of good eating habits and proper nutrition. Although poor nutrition can cause life-long damage, awareness and action can reverse/avoid many of those damages from carrying on into adulthood. Luckily, there are many ways that teens can improve their nutrition and overall health. Some ways to do so include:

  • Eating three balanced meals everyday with healthy snacks in-between.
  • Increasing the amount of fiber eaten. This is beneficial because fiber is more filling and will lessen the urge to binge eat or snack.
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables.
  • Limiting the consumption of red meat. Chicken and fish are great alternatives to red meat due to the fact that red meat contains more saturated fat.
  • Switching out juices and carbonated drinks for water.
  • Physical activity. It is important for teenagers to get at least 60 minuets of exercise daily. Exercise is essential because it helps with muscle gain, weight control, improve mental health, and reducing the risks of developing health conditions and heart diseases.

Snack Ideas

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To conclude, here are some examples of easy snack switches to help improve your nutrition.

  • Chips -> Kale chips
  • Chips/crackers and dip -> Vegetables and hummus
  • Cookies -> Fruit with nut butter
  • Ice cream -> Frozen Greek yogurt covered fruits
  • Chocolate -> Trail mix with dark chocolate

 

 

 

Immune-boosting Foods: Supercharge Your Body

The immune system is the body’s defense against attacks by external micro-organisms. When this defense fails, you fall sick, and at other times, your body successfully fights the germs and keeps you healthy. The immune system as the name suggests, is a collective system of cells, organs, and networks. It is not just a single entity. Scientists are still in the process of understanding how the immune system can be boosted as a whole.

They are still studying whether immunity booster tablets can help in boosting the immune system or do they have adverse effects.

We have compiled a list of immune-boosting foods to help fight against micro-organisms and supercharge your body.

Immune-boosting Foods

Blueberries

These tiny little berries are rich in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. They are rich in several other nutrients like vitamin A, C, K, fiber, manganese, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and so many more.

They provide essential micronutrients to the body, and their antioxidant properties help undo a lot of free radical damage done to cells.

These properties are said to have a substantial effect on the disease-fighting abilities of the body and help in keeping most diseases at bay.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids help in healing the immune system after a germ attack due to their anti-inflammatory properties.

They also influence the functions of immune cells which makes them important for the overall performance of the immune system.

While it is known that fishes and fish oils are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, there are many options for vegetarians as well. Ensure that your diet is rich in nuts like walnuts, seeds such as flax seeds and chia seeds, soybeans, eggs, spinach, etc.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissues. It heals wounds, plays an important role in keeping skin healthy, promotes bone growth, and helps perform many more important functions.

Its high antioxidant properties reduce the effect of the damage done to cells from free radicals, thereby helping in the prevention of diseases like cancer.

The body does not produce vitamin C, hence you must get them from fruits and vegetables.

You can get your daily dose of vitamin C from tomatoes, oranges, carrots, green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, potatoes, berries, pineapples, kiwi, mangoes, and many more

 

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Green tea

Green teas are rich in phenolics and antioxidants that help them undo some of the oxidative damage. They strengthen the immune system and help fight several infections that you might be at risk of.

Green tea helps speed up metabolism, detoxifies the body, and has weight loss properties.

Add some pure honey to your daily cup of green tea to multiply the effects, as honey is another powerful ingredient that can supercharge your immune system.

Foods rich in Zinc

Consuming foods with a high concentration of zinc can help prevent rashes, keep your immune system strong, and prevent infections while also promoting normal body growth. If you tend to catch a cold easily, Zinc might help you keep it at bay as they are said to treat the common cold.

Non-vegetarians can get their daily requirements of zinc from meat, poultry, oysters, and other shellfish, while vegetarians can consume legumes, seeds, dairy, whole grains, and mushrooms.

Garlic

Ideally, garlic tops the list of foods containing immunity enhancing antioxidants to supercharge your immune system. Garlic can help fight infections, heal wounds and treat cold and flu due to its antiseptic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.

Since ancient times, eating a clove of garlic is said to provide various health benefits and promote overall good health.

The compounds present in garlic help boost the disease-fighting responses in cells in the body boosts your immune system. boosts your immune system.

Immune-boosting Tips

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  • Keep yourself hydrated at all times. It helps your body flush out toxins, catalyzes different bodily functions, and also facilitates repair in cells and tissues.
  • Sleep well and get 6-8 hours of sleep daily as when you sleep, your body does most of the repair and maintenance. Without proper sleep, your immune system may be susceptible to diseases.
  • Quit smoking and limit your consumption of alcohol.
  • Include probiotics and prebiotics in your diet that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut.
  • You must also ensure that you get your daily dose of exercise through some form of physical activity. Exercise helps in maintaining good blood circulation, burns extra calories, and also catalyzes the process where toxins get flushed from your body.

Conclusion

The key is to lead a healthy and well-balanced life. You can boost your immunity by simply making a visit to your neighborhood grocery store rather than the supplement stores. Consuming these fresh fruits and vegetables will not cause any adverse effect that synthetic materials in supplements might.

Steer clear of artificial supplements, as there is insufficient information on the role they play and the side effects that they may cause in the long run.