Staying at Home Has Helped Me Follow a Healthier Routine

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by Mary Shaniqua |

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fruits and vegetables

Living in lockdown the past few months has been quite an experience. If you had asked me before the pandemic if I could stay indoors for 12 weeks and go out only for hospital appointments, I would have told you it was impossible. But here I am, well over 12 weeks later, and I’m still shielding.

What an experience it has been.

Being at home has given me the opportunity to identify my well-being needs and to fine-tune my responses. One notable observation from all of this is that my health has been better. I’ve had only one crisis that resulted in a hospital admission during this time.

As for crises at home that do not result in hospital admissions, I have experienced few of these, too. And I have felt less lethargic than normal. Clearly, staying home has been beneficial for me.

Ordinarily, I often skip meals or eat unhealthy ones due to ease and convenience. But while shielding, I have followed a good dietary regime, with three square meals a day, and sometimes more. I also have tried meat-free eating, thus increasing my fruit and vegetable intake.

Years ago before my health started to severely decline, I was very active. Boxing and dancing occupied my time, and I frequently went to the gym for weightlifting. As circumstance would have it, I can no longer do these things. So, I stopped exercising.

But exercise can be helpful for sickle cell patients. Perhaps highly intensive exercises like boxing are not ideal for sickle patients, but moderate exercise has been found to improve some sickle cell symptoms.

Reduced walking due to lockdown made me aware that I wasn’t exercising, so I took up yoga. I chose yoga because it is challenging but not strenuous in a cardiovascular sense. I wanted to do something that would challenge me and improve my well-being, but not leave me gasping for air and with chest pain. I have been doing a 30-minute yoga session daily.

Being at home has also given me more time to read and relax. Instead of constantly being on the go and hardly resting, I now get adequate rest, which is necessary for sickle cell patients. Plus, compliance with taking my medications has been far better while at home.

The U.K.’s shielding guidance is scheduled to be lifted on Aug. 1. On that date, those of us who have been shielding can to go to shops and socialize as “normal,” assuming that the guidance doesn’t change again before then.

Yet, I am worried. I need to find ways to integrate back into society without slipping into my previous bad habits. I have given this much thought and come up with a few measures I intend to take to try to maintain my good crisis-free streak.

My main takeaway from lockdown will be ensuring that I continue to maintain a good morning routine. Previously, I would wake up and scroll through social media before getting ready for work. Now, I never check social media before finishing my morning routine. I do some reading as soon as I wake, followed by yoga. Then I get ready for work and have breakfast.

I intend to maintain this routine going forward. I have found that the best thing about doing things in the morning before work is that my evenings are free, and I can relax. Once I return to office working, I may need to make some adjustments for this, such as waking up earlier, but this is a small sacrifice for better quality of life.

When I eventually integrate back into society, I will have to start planning my meals in advance, making sure I have a good breakfast each morning before leaving the house. Also, preparing my lunches and dinners in advance can minimize the temptation to grab an unhealthy meal out of convenience.

I have invested in a Dosette box to set out my medication a week in advance to help me maintain good compliance. I also will implement a reasonable bedtime and decline social outings when necessary to ensure I get the rest I need.

Living with a chronic condition like sickle cell disease is to continually learn how to look after one’s body and respond to its needs.

Have you picked up any good habits during this pandemic that you intend to implement long term? Please share in the comments below.


Note: Sickle Cell Anemia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Anemia News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell anemia.


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