We are facing challenging times. Between quarantine and the rallying cries against racial injustice, our bodies are absorbing a lot of stress, so we need to stay healthy more than ever before. Emmy Award-Winning Journalist, Mara Schiavocampo recently connected with Dr. Cora Spaulding, MD, MPH during our Wellness House Virtual Summit to talk about tips we can all use right now.

Before getting into Dr. Spaulding’s advice, let’s address the elephant in the room—stress. As Dr. Spaulding explains in this episode, your body doesn’t know the difference between a real threat, like a bear chasing you, and perceived threats, like everyday annoyances that can compound over time. It’s that daily dip into an acute stress response that can be responsible for cardiovascular and immune system issues, not to mention increased anxiety over time.

Get ready to regulate your stress and your whole system with five healthy habits you can start today from Dr. Spaulding.

Just Breath. Dr. Spaulding explains that in parallel to that involuntary stress response, there part of the body that triggers relaxation, which you can tap into with breathing exercises and a simply stated mantra—a word, phrase or sound that is significant to you or something you want to create for yourself, like “calm.” Starting two minutes a day and building to a 10-20 minute practice, she recommends inhaling deeply through the nose and out through the mouth, then speaking your mantra aloud to give it life. Use it daily or on the fly when stress arises. Watch the full session to see Dr. Spaulding demonstrate her technique.

Make Space. Engage all your senses to curate a place of positivity. Choose eye-pleasing colors and surround yourself with fabrics that feel good to the touch. Also, keep touchstones within your gaze that have sentimental value and can call up warm, inviting memories. Creating a true sanctuary can help outside stresses stay at bay.

Get Rest. Sleep deprivation can have serious side effects for your health, so begin your nighttime routine when you wake up. Plan how much caffeine you will have, when to exercise and remember to turn off devices a couple hours before you want to rest. To eliminate blue-light exposure from screen before bed, Dr. Spaulding suggests journaling, listening to music, bathing and meditating. And she also addresses the insomnia we are feeling from fear and sadness. She suggests getting up out of bed and trying one of these activities until you tire, then returning to your bed to sleep. She has much more to say on this topic, so be sure to watch the episode.

Move It. Exercise is a big one for a healthy body and stress relief, but with gyms closed, how can you do it? A big fan of jumping rope, Dr. Spaulding gives a great demo in this video showing just how you can build this into your routine for a great workout (for you and the kids!) without disturbing your neighbors. Spoiler: it’s all in how you can tweak your jump rode!

Add Veggies. A plant-based diet has so many advantages, but if going vegetarian is too much for you, boost the nutrition of every meal by maxing out the veggies. You can puree them to add them to soups and smoothies or just pile them on your plate along with a starch and protein.

For more advice from Dr. Spaulding, watch the full session, then check out the resources below.

Simple Changes to Improve your Health Now

AARP: Healthy Living Information