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9 Self-care Tips in the Time of Covid-19 from a Spoonie Dietitian

Alarming news about COVID-19 is posted on the web by the second. I am not trying to underestimate the seriousness of the pandemic but it's essential to follow the information by reputable health authorities and patient organizations to maintain our sanity during these uncertain times. Our mental health is vital in keeping our stress and autoimmune conditions under control. Here are my top tips to cope with stressful time while staying home:

1. Staying way from panic-mongering news. It's nerve-wracking to see the virus spreading so quickly across the globe. It doesn't mean that drinking bleach will protect us against COVID-19. A few of my go-to-resources on COVID-19 are:

2. Resuming the meal prep of lunches and snacks for the week. The first week working from home, I was going to the kitchen almost every hour to grab a cookie, a cup of tea, a piece of fruit, etc. Preparing meals for the week with my hubby and mother-in-law has been a great way to spend more time with my family, minimize emotional eating, and even save money. For meal prep ideas, Smart Meal Prep for Beginners by Toby Amidor, RD is a fantastic way to start.

3. Going for a walk at least 30 minutes every day. Since my boy, hubby and I don't have any cold or COVID-19 symptoms (knock on wood), we go for a stroll in the neighbourhood while keeping a distance of 6 feet or 2 metres from others.

4. Grabbing an energizing smoothie for the walk. I often make a smoothie with frozen fruit, frozen greens, oats, flax or chia seeds, maple syrup, and any plant-based beverage on hand (i.e. soy, almond or oat beverage). I may also use fruits and vegetables that are about to be spoiled to reduce food waste.

5. Continuing a fun Zumba routine. Dancing is part of my culture and Zumba combines physical activity with the joy of dancing. Although I miss going to the group fitness and socialize with fellow Zumba lovers, I still can enjoy one of my favourite YouTube Zumba instructors from home, Marlon Alves. Goodlife is also updating its app to allow members to access workouts online.

6. Unplugging from electronic devices at least a couple hours before bedtime. The constant influx of information and misinformation about COVID-19 can be daunting. I cannot let the anxiety get the best of me as high-stress levels will undoubtedly increase my disease activity. So far, my inflammatory arthritis has been in pretty good control. Disconnecting from the online world to connect with loved ones can be the best medicine.

7. Resting and meditating whenever possible. Mindfulness meditation can be useful in the holistic management of chronic pain. A must-have app is InsightTimer, which contains a plethora of free meditation sessions. Start with five minutes for a week, increase the time allotted to meditation as your daily schedule permits.

8. Continuing with the therapies for your inflammatory arthritis unless otherwise indicated by your medical professional. There is no evidence suggesting that stopping your medications will decrease the risk of contracting the virus. Consult with your health provider if you need to make any changes to prevent a flare-up.

9. Using medical cannabis, particularly CBD oil, both orally and topically (if medically appropriate). Medical cannabis has been part of my wellness toolkit for the past six months. It does not replace my RA therapies, but it has undoubtedly eased the pain from fibromyalgia and reduced the stress levels.

The following Canadian clinics offer online consultations with qualified health care practitioners in medical cannabis:

Remember the golden rule, "Start Slow, Go Slow."

The evidence on the use of medical cannabis, pain management and inflammatory arthritis continues to emerge. The Canadian Rheumatology Association (CRA) Position Statement recognizes that patients with chronic pain need better treatments to relieve pain. The CRA recommends that each patient is thoroughly assessed by a health care practitioner, discuss treatment goals, discuss potential side effects and interactions with other therapies, before starting treatment. Cannabis with a lower TCH and high CBD content is preferable. The CRA highlights that medical cannabis for rheumatologic patients older than 25 years of age.

The Arthritis Society had prepared a great online program on basic information about medical cannabis.

Above all, please Stay Calm, Stay Home, and Stay Safe

Wishing you a pain-free week @arthritiddietitian


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