Vaccines are one of the treasures of modern medicine, having revolutionized the way we keep ourselves and our neighbors safe. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this is clearer than ever; receiving the COVID vaccination is crucial in reducing the harm of the virus, limiting its spread, and reopening our society. With the rollout of vaccines fully underway, many people have received at least one dose, if not two. Yet, as essential as these vaccines are, they are just one very important step in maintaining the health of people and their communities as we all seek to bring the pandemic to an end and create a better world for ourselves and each other.
This blog post will outline some of the different ways we can take care of our health after receiving our vaccinations. The important thing is to remember that a vaccination is a wonderful part of protecting against this potentially deadly virus, but that we must not get complacent once we have received it. The COVID-19 virus still threatens the people around us, and there are still many other factors to consider. The following is a list of suggestions, but as you read along, feel free to think of your own ideas!
1. Get Plenty of Rest
Once you have received your vaccine, make sure you follow the advice of medical professionals. There can sometimes be minor side effects that will leave you sore or tired. According to the CDC, “You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection.” Stay well-rested, and maybe even schedule a day off if possible. While many people do not feel any significant impacts from the vaccine, be prepared for the possibility that you may need some extra sleep and may not be your most energetic or productive self following the procedure. Take steps to ensure you have the time you need to recover properly, and don’t push yourself too hard in the days after your vaccination.
2. Be Positive About Vaccination
Although vaccinations are overwhelmingly supported by medical research, some people may be confused about them based on misinformation on the internet. Once you have received the vaccine, feel free to speak positively about it and let people know that it is not scary or harmful like they may have read on social media. According to Scientific American, we can “talk about how popular the vaccine is” to help people overcome their fears. This doesn’t mean that you should argue with other people or spend large amounts of time trying to convince them. But even just maintaining a positive and supportive attitude about getting vaccinated can help others feel more comfortable getting it, and those good feelings can change people’s perspectives and increase community solidarity when we need it most.
3. Physical Distancing and Masks
Even after you get the vaccine, there is still a risk that you could spread COVID-19 to others, especially those who haven’t yet received the vaccine. While the vaccine is extremely effective, it is not a 100% guarantee against contracting the virus, especially after only one dose. Maintaining physical distancing is still a good idea and may continue to be required in many areas. Keep in mind that physical distancing does not have to equal “social distancing”—there are many ways to keep social connections and stay in touch with the people you love! But staying away from crowded areas or following the six feet of space rule can still be an important part of reducing the spread of the virus and keeping you and those around you safe. Mask rules are also still in effect in many places and can continue to be a valuable tool in our fight against this pandemic. According to the CDC, “when you wear a mask, you protect others as well as yourself,” something that is good for everyone.
4. Stay Educated
Because the pandemic is still ongoing, and because health information is always important, continuing to stay educated about present events related to the pandemic is a good idea. This does not mean you have to follow the news obsessively; oftentimes, spending too much time on media channels or sites can be a negative experience, draining our energy and even making us more pessimistic. However, staying up-to-date regarding the latest rules and recommendations from your local government and following reliable sources of medical information can be a useful way to stay informed about COVID-19 and related issues, allowing you to make wise health decisions for yourself and your family. Just make sure you don’t spend too much time in front of your screen and make sure you do other things too! Misinformation is common, but reading sources by experts trained in the topic, confirming facts through the use of multiple outlets, and avoiding overly emotional points of view that aren’t substantiated by facts are good ways to ensure you’re getting the correct information.
5. Maintain Social Connections
Staying socially active is always important, and in the age of “social distancing,” it is essential now more than ever that we maintain our friendships and other relationships. Keeping connected with other people is good for mental health, builds community, and keeps us from getting bored. Reducing loneliness can even help our physical health, enhancing our immune systems and helping us fight off viruses. According to the World Happiness Report, “the negative psychological impact of COVID-19 has been observed across the world,” and many of those impacts have been caused by social disconnection. In these difficult and uncertain times, having positive interactions can be a stabilizing force in our lives, making it easier for us to remain calm and giving us the support networks we need and deserve. Staying stuck in our own heads is rarely a good thing, and while you may need time to reflect about things on your own, talking to other people can give us a refreshing change of perspective and offer us the community of care that will help us all overcome the pandemic and emerge stronger and healthier on the other side.
6. Maintain a Healthy Diet
In a time where we are so concerned about the spread of the virus, we can sometimes neglect other areas of health. Stress can encourage poor eating habits, and with all of the uncertainty around current events, you may find that your health standards have been slipping. One way to boost your overall wellbeing is to maintain a healthy diet. This includes eating plenty of vegetables, reducing sugar, and staying hydrated. All these things can make our bodies stronger, improve our mental health, and keep us energized. The World Health Organization suggests “while no foods or dietary supplements can prevent or cure COVID-19 infection, healthy diets are important for supporting immune systems.” This means that eating right can protect you and your family on multiple levels. In fact, they write that “good nutrition can also reduce the likelihood of developing other health problems, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.” In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, maybe we can all start thinking more about healthy habits in general and empower ourselves to make our bodies more resilient.
7. Exercise and Stay Active
Many of us have been cooped up more than usual over the last year, as we have been encouraged to stay home and have been more nervous about going out in public. This means we may have spent less time walking, playing sports, or getting other forms of exercise. Yet, there are many ways to stay physically active while also following COVID regulations. Going for a walk outside in an area that isn’t busy, doing outdoor calisthenics, joining a virtual yoga class, and other exercise opportunities can keep you fit, boost your overall health, and make you feel good. Exercise releases endorphins and other positive chemicals that can enhance your overall wellbeing, and it can also increase your longevity. According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, “physical inactivity is associated with a higher risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes.” This means that getting exercise is an essential part of staying healthy when it comes to the pandemic and beyond.
8. Enjoy Nature
Being trapped inside because of physical distancing or quarantine can be difficult physically and mentally. It disconnects us from our environment and can cause boredom, make us more lethargic, and increase the monotony of our routine. Going out and seeing trees, mountains, rivers, and other natural things have been proven to reduce depression and anxiety and boost our overall health. According to Harvard Health, “research suggests that mood disorders can be lifted by spending more time outdoors.” This means that natural settings can have a healing effect and be a part of wider treatment programs. Not only does going outside get us moving beyond our cramped indoor surroundings, but it also enables us to soak up the fresh air and beautiful scenery that nature can provide.
9. Engage in Mental Activity
Jigsaw puzzles, chess, sudoku, crosswords, and other activities that stimulate the brain can be a great way to pass the time if you’re stuck indoors or if you need something that will help you relax. They can keep your mind sharp and help you increase your concentration. According to Healthline, there is “evidence that puzzles can be effective for brain health.” This means that not only are these activities fun, but they can also influence your brain in positive ways and make you healthier. This is a great combination of recreation and self-care.
10. Find a New Hobby
In addition to some of the suggestions here, each individual has their own passions and interests. The pandemic can be a chance to return to old hobbies or find new ones. People may or may not have more free time due to the current situation, but we all have opportunities to try new things and find something to pass the time that will enrich our lives and make this challenging period in our lives easier. Joining online communities, going out for safe activities, talking to others about your interests, and taking the time to discover more about yourself can allow you to find new ways to express your unique talents and get in touch with the wonderful things that make you who you are.
Ultimately, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult crisis for us to endure, but we can also use these opportunities to create new experiences within our lives while protecting ourselves and the people around us. Making smart decisions can keep you and those you love healthy and happy, and following some of these recommendations may help you successfully navigate this unusual situation in a positive and uplifting manner.