CLEVELAND, Ohio — During a crisis, it’s important that we focus on the basics: eating and sleeping. Those two things will impact every other part of our well-being.

Cleveland Clinic Psychologist and New York Times Bestselling Author Dr. Susan Albers says we need to create new homeostasis during social distancing.

  • Comfort food is totally okay, but we need nourishing foods like those rich in Vitamin C
  • A sleep routine every night is an important part of regulating your body and setting the tone for your next day
  • Getting outside for at least 15 minutes every day will help boost your Vitamin D levels

“Our bodies and minds are wired to resist change, and we have had massive change in the past few days. So, if you are feeling out-of-sorts, that's pretty normal. But it doesn't feel good,” said Albers.  

Albers says not only are we stuck inside, we are also not doing those things in our daily routine that boost our happiness, “and all of a sudden, all of those things have been yanked away from us, it came to a screeching halt, And those things provided our brain with serotonin and dopamine, those feel good neurotransmitters. And so it makes sense that we are gravitating towards food as one way to boost those neurotransmitters.” 

Albers said it makes sense that in uncomfortable times, we reach for comfort food and we start eating mindlessly. She uses the acronym STOP to help her clients.

“So, S is to slow down. T is to take a breath, just taking a breath helps to reduce our anxiety level. O is to observe your hunger level. And notice, are you feeling, emotional, bored, stress, anxious, and that's why you want to eat, or are you feeling genuinely hungry? And then, P is to pick the right option. If you are hungry, that's fine, eat that food mindfully or pick something that is going to help to reduce your stress level.” 

Albers says comfort food in moderation is okay, but we need nourishing foods like those rich in Vitamin C — try strawberries, oranges or kiwi.

“Any of those citrus fruits are going to help us to boost that immune system, but they're also calming. Studies have shown that the smell of citrus fruit actually helps to calm us down,” Albers said. 

That calm will also help with creating a sleep schedule. Albers said a sleep schedule every night is an important part of regulating your body.

“That helps to get your body settled and ready for bed, kind of it’s like a warning bell, in a way, things like having some nice tea can help to relax the body, doing some stretches. Try and turn off those devices,” said Albers.  

She also recommends that you get outside every day for at least 15 minutes if you can. That will help boost your Vitamin D levels, which will boost your mood.