Dr. Matteo Valenti has some very simple advice about taking care of yourself during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
It’s time to get back to basics.
Everyone should be focused on the practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control: washing your hands with “good old soap and water”, coughing into the crook of your elbow, staying away from people who are sick, and avoiding large crowds – made much easier by Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s March 23 “Stay Home. Stay Safe.” Executive Order.
But this is also a good time to protect your overall health.
“My best advice about maintaining health is the same every day of the week,” said Valenti, an internal medicine/primary care physician with Beaumont-Farmington Hills. “People are healthy when they eat well, when they sleep well, and when they move.”
If you aren’t already, get back to eating three solid meals a day, with a protein, fruits and vegetables, and make sure elders are doing the same.
“It’s important for family members to make sure their loved ones have access to good foods,” Valenti said. ”A lot of older people do Boost or Ensure as a supplement, and that’s fine.”
Additional stress and disrupted schedules can interfere with sleep, at a time when you most need it. “Are you doing the right things for sleep? Do you prepare for sleep? Have a sleep-wake cycle that’s consistent.”
Valenti said taking melatonin or simple measures like drinking herbal teas, creating a calming routine with prayer, poetry, or music, can help with sleep and general anxiety.
When you’re feeling tired, Valenti said, try a little exercise.
“I really do think your body likes to move. When you exert energy during the day, you sleep better at night. Doing something as simple as a walk around the neighborhood can help you feel better mentally.”
Supplements and medicines
Valenti said people have circulated “a lot of wrong information about supplements”, but his recommendation for anyone, and especially those 50 and older, is a daily multivitamin and, because we all live in Michigan, a Vitamin D supplement (2000 units). He said there’s really no need for super high doses of Vitamin C.
“You should also make sure you’re taking care of other illness, like diabetes,” he said. “People still need their regular care and to focus on their regular medical problems.”
Now would be a good time to quit smoking, Valenti said, and keep an eye on your alcohol consumption.
“If it relaxes you to have a glass of wine, that’s fine, but not necessarily across the board,” he said, adding some people must avoid alcohol because of their medications. “I think there’s a problem if people are drinking every single day.”
“I do think we will get through this,” Valenti added. “I think we get through it together. Focus on the simple things you can do to make small change, and ultimately, being supportive of each other.”