Pharmacist tips for staying healthy in the time of COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed everything about our lives in a very short amount of time. The way we work, socialise, shop, exercise, travel, access healthcare, and school our children is completely different. Even at the best of times, change can be difficult to cope with but we have all endured multiple changes in what seems like overnight. It is completely okay to feel worried, stressed and anxious. At this unprecedented time in history keeping well and healthy in both mind and body has never been more important. See the tips that below for ways to keep well during this time.

Keep taking your regular medicines
There is no need to run out of or ration your medicines. Keep taking these as you normally would and don’t make any changes unless you talk to your doctor or pharmacist. You can still get a prescription from your GP and get this dispensed by your pharmacy. You may need to give both your GP and pharmacy a few days notice.

Don’t put off any health concerns that you have
You can still access health services – your GP is still open but they are operating in different ways such as having over-the-phone consultations with patients. Your pharmacy is still open if you need to fill a prescription, get your repeats or purchase over-the-counter medicines. Don’t put off any nagging health issues as they could turn in to bigger problems if not checked out. Our health system is not solely dedicated to fighting COVID-19 – it is more than capable of dealing with other health concerns of New Zealanders.

Get a flu vaccination
One bonus of the Level 4 lockdown is that New Zealanders have experienced fewer respiratory illnesses such as colds and flu than usual for this time of year. But the flu season is still approaching and the best thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated.

Keep up with your social networks
Call, video chat, email, Zoom, play online boardgames. Maintain your friendships and relationships with loved ones, just without the physical interaction.

Eat well
Hard to do when you have suddenly discovered a joy of baking or find the snacks in the pantry are on hand 24 hours a day. Try and keep to regular meal times and cook meals with lots of colourful vegetables. Keep snack time as healthy as possible.

Sleep
Don’t stay up until the small hours binge-watching your new favourite show. Like mealtimes, keep sleep times regular, going to bed and getting up around the same time each day.

Get some Vitamin D
Head outdoors to get some sunshine on your skin. Vitamin D is essential for our immune system to function well, and even sitting outside to have a cuppa on a sunny winter morning will help maintain your Vitamin D levels.

Exercise
Aim for exercise at least three times a week, and for thirty minutes at a time. Not just good for your heart and muscles but regular exercise can improve mood and mental health.

Limit the amount of news that you follow
Make sure that it is from a reputable source, rather than a source that uses alarming attention-grabbing headlines to attract followers. Limit your time reading the news to once or twice a day as it is easy to get in the habit of constantly checking headlines and news coverage. The Ministry of Health website is a good one to check in on (https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus).

Look after your mental health
Take time for yourself if possible, meditate, do yoga, get stuck into crafts and hobbies, anything that can help you to relax or take your mind off your concerns. Acknowledge your feelings and don’t be too hard on yourself. These are tough times with financial, work and health pressures coming at us from all sides. If you feel overwhelmed, talk and reach out to others, including your GP or pharmacist.

This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The information contained in the blog and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

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