Self-improvement tips you can use now


Here are 10 helpful tips, gathered from a handful of local health and wellness experts, that we’ve repurposed from a previous issue. We all need distractions from this crisis. So, use some of your new free time to focus on making yourself better.

1. Eat antioxidant-rich food. Antioxidants protect our bodies and cells from the onslaught of damage caused by free radicals. “They are found in many foods, including fruits and vegetables and other sources like nuts, beans, and even dark chocolate,” says Tricia Jefferson, RD, LDN, director of healthy living and strategic partnerships, YMCA of Delaware. Antioxidants are important to keep our bodies healthy by “slowing the signs of aging and reducing cancer and heart disease risk,” she says.

2. Continue to be part of the community. Social distancing pertains to physical space only. Now is an ideal time to reconnect with your friends and family. Says Jefferson, “Connecting with others and being part of a trusted community can help improve your quality of life by boosting your mental health, decreasing risky behaviors and helping you live longer.” These social and emotional connections are important at all life stages, so make sure to reach out, whether it’s by email, social media or phone.

3. Exercise is a no-brainer when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. Its benefits are not limited to your physical health. A study done by the University of British Columbia has shown that regular aerobic exercise appears to “boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.” Follow a consistent schedule and change up your routine with a mix of strength, interval and cardio exercise. And make sure as much of it as possible is outside—keeping your distance from others, of course.

4. Resolve to eat more fermented foods. Karen Igou, owner and operator of Honeybee Seasonal Kitchen in Trolley Square, battles chronic health issues. She eats fermented foods as part of her daily routine. “They help balance gut health by re-populating beneficial bacteria killed off by processed foods and antibiotics,” she says, “and they help level out the pH balance in the intestines.” She turns to well-known fermented foods like raw sauerkraut, kombucha (fermented tea), kimchi and miso. Want to make your own fermented foods? Look no further than The Noma Guide to Fermentation, an ode to the history of fermentation and guide to how to ferment at home written by David Zilber, director of the Noma fermentation lab, and René Redzepi, chef and co-owner of Noma in Copenhagen.

5. The Insight Timer app is a free meditation app that’s similar to Headspace, but with many more free meditations and lectures. The best part of the app is the custom meditation timer that allows you to set the duration, interval bells and ambient sounds of your individual session. It’s available on the App Store and Google Play.

6. Just breathe. Due to our hectic lives, we’ve become accustomed to going full tilt until we fall into bed. Liz Freeman Abel, a licensed dietitian/nutritionist and owner of free + abel, a food and lifestyle company based in Delaware, recommends taking more moments throughout our day to breathe and to “let the oxygen come into your lungs deeply and then feel it gently leave.” She recommends repeating this five-to-10 times while in line at the grocery store or in the shower—or whenever you feel rushed or stressed.

7. Use Plant Nanny App and drink more water. Most people don’t get the recommended daily quantities. This app rewards you and politely reminds you to drink water throughout the day. The goal is to drink all the recommended cups of water each day while remembering to “water” your plant. If you forget to water your plant, it will look sad; if you neglect your plant, it will die, and you must start all over. Available on the App Store and Google Play.

8. Unsubscribe. Clean out that inbox. You now have time to unsubscribe to those annoying sales and marketing emails and weekly newsletters. While you’re at it, be sure to add your phone to the National Do Not Call Registry to minimize telemarketing calls, and deactivate those incessant news notifications on your phone. Also, use the “block caller” function on your phone.

9. Eat your vegetables. We all know it’s important, so why not try to incorporate new vegetables? Says Abel: “Try a rainbow of fresh produce each week. Vegetables in different colors provide vitamins that are necessary for so many bodily functions, such as cardiovascular health, respiratory health, and immune support.”

10. Catch more sleep. It’s essential for a healthy body and mind, and for a while now, you will likely have more time. Says Jefferson: “Sleep is involved with healing and repairing your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.” Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night.