April 25, 2020 / 4:13 AM / a month ago

In coronavirus pandemic, do your part by staying healthy. Here's what doctors recommend

(Reuters) - Americans can avoid burdening an already stressed healthcare system by staying healthy, and experts said some simple practices help during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

A man wearing a protective face mask is seen walking past a closed shop as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Brussels, Belgium April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Files

For people isolated at home, experts said daily habits should include sufficient sleep, adequate water intake, nutritious meals, physical movement, virtual social contact and limited alcohol.

“When I wake up, it’s, hey, what are the short list of things I need to keep an eye on? How much sleep did I get? What am I planning on eating?,” said psychologist Dr Kevin Gilliland in Dallas.

For mental health, they suggest limiting news intake to once or twice a day to stay abreast of health experts’ recommendations, while avoiding over-exposure that can trigger panic.

Watch comforting movies, video-chat with family, and go outside where possible. Experts recommended acknowledging anxious thoughts, rather than repressing them, but then moving on quickly.

“I think it’s really important that we talk about our feelings right now, that we know that this too shall pass, that we relax, that we do things that we enjoy right now,” said psychologist Dr Lori Whatley in Atlanta.

“Exercise, meditate, eat healthy, sleep and stay hydrated. These are things that we can control,” she said.

Handwashing, not touching your face, and maintaining physical separation remain paramount, said Dr Vincent Racaniello, a professor of immunology at Columbia University.

Racaniello urged vigilance on handwashing after contact with surfaces such as door knobs. Dr Stephen Morse, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center, said wiping down phones with disinfectant wipes was a good idea, too.

With parcels and groceries, washing your hands after unpacking and disposing of the outer packages was sufficient, Racaniello and Morse said, adding that sanitizing the inner packaging was not necessary.

Reporting by Roselle Chen; Writing by Cynthia Osterman; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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