With the Coronavirus outbreak, we’re all facing huge changes to every aspect of our daily lives. The spread of COVID-19 has made us work from home, maintain strict personal hygiene, and practice social distancing for the safety of ourselves, our families, and our communities. Just like all of you at home, the Hush Home family has encountered huge challenges in responding to the Coronavirus pandemic. Just like you, we want to do everything we can to make sure all of us get through this epidemic together, safely.
Want COVID-19 facts and sleep tips to maintain your physical and mental well-being during the outbreak? Over the course of the month, we will collect practical wellness tips that you can apply in your own home, such as how to:
Together, we can fight COVID-19. Please remember to check back often, as we will update this page with more Coronavirus facts and wellness tips once a week.
In everyday life, a strong immune system will see you better protected against coughs and colds, as well as more serious seasonal bugs and viruses such as flu. And should you happen to come down with anything, your immune system is your internal army, ready to fight it off as quickly as possible. In these times, however, with the emergence of COVID-19, maintaining or boosting your immune system has become vital. Not just so you don’t have to experience the symptoms, but not catching it (or anything else!) reduces stress on our already stretched healthcare facilities. It’s up to us to do our bit in this global struggle.
There are many ways to improve your immune system, and you probably already make sure you eat healthily, get some exercise and maybe even take some supplements, but are you missing out on one of the easiest yet most effective methods? Sleep!
That’s right, just getting a good night’s sleep enables your body to fight off illness as well as prepare you to heal your emotions. Need proof? One study found that those who regularly got less than 7 hours of sleep per night were nearly three times more likely to develop a cold than those who got more than 8. Also examined was sleep efficiency (the percentage of time actually asleep versus in bed), and those with a low score - who spent a lot of time in bed but not sleeping, maybe watching TV or on social media) were an amazing five-and-a-half times more likely to catch a cold.
This study’s findings are incredibly relevant right now in the middle of a worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. Why’s that? Coronavirus (or COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that primarily spreads via droplets that are generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. That’s the same way the common cold and the flu spreads. That means lack of sleep may limit your body’s immune response to the virus. So in short, in addition to practicing strict hygiene measures as recommended by the World Health Organization, you need to make sure you get more sleep.
Even if you choose to ignore all the other immune-boosting tips, sleep is the one that you really should concentrate on. Sleep is essentially nature’s way of healing the body (and mind), and is the result of (literally) millions of years of evolution.
With a good night’s sleep under your belt, your body makes cytokines, a protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response. But that is not all.
To understand better, let’s take a look at what happens when you do get sick. Before your first sneeze, your body has already detected ‘bad’ cells and starts creating ‘killer’ cells - your internal army - who quickly multiply in number as they start hunting out the unwelcome visitors. Once found, they attach themselves to the bad cells and inject a toxin that kills them dead and makes them harmless. Simple enough right? Let your body do its thing and you’ll get better? A recently published medical paper concluded that this effect can, in fact, be sped up by simply getting more shuteye. Why is that? One primary reason is that the activity level of your body’s as the killer cells spike when you are asleep. So sleep more and let your internal army go into combat to keep you healthy.
Don’t panic if you didn’t get your full sleep quota last night, you can still maintain a healthy immune system with the help of a nap. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a strategic nap of 20-30 minutes will not only provide a short-term energy and concentration boost, great if you have an online meeting to prepare for or kids to home school, but also offset the negative effects of sleep deprivation on the immune system. In fact, if you’re feeling particularly sleep deprived, we recommend two short naps, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. For everyone “working from home”, you now have the perfect excuse to cuddle up in bed when your boss is asking you to send out that email. Not that you ever need an excuse to boost your immune system!
Quite often the natural reaction to feeling under the weather is to rest or sleep more than normal, and that is exactly what you should be doing. Don’t feel bad for getting comfy and just relaxing in the comfort of your bed. Remember: more sleep gives your immune system more ammo in the fight against disease. The more you sleep, the more time your body has to make cytokines and to activate the killer cells to fight off foreign invaders! So what’s the best advice if you’re not feeling well? Sleep early, sleep late, take medicine if recommended by a doctor, and (if your illness is contagious) keep yourself separated from your family to protect them.
In addition to wrecking many people’s physical health, the COVID-19 epidemic has also caused an unprecedented worldwide increase in stress and anxiety levels. It’s a combination of us having to worry about ourselves, our families, our friends and even strangers who our actions could affect. Staying fit and healthy through exercise and nutrition are shown to help beat the actual virus, but maintaining a mental strength is just as important.
Everyday life used to be full of things to stress about - your job, finances, or home - so we are all used to worrying, just not on this scale. Your coping mechanisms might need to be adjusted, much as we are adjusting to this new world.
The first thing many people notice when they are stressed or anxious is they don’t sleep as well. This is a natural reaction as stress influences our hormones and therefore our sleep-wake cycle. Guided by cortisol (to wake us) and melatonin (to make your mind less alert and feel tired), the cycle is nature’s way of ensuring we maintain a healthy balance that prepares us physically and mentally for the day ahead. Disruption of the cycle, therefore, disrupts our ability to cope. As stress levels increase, whether through worrying about COVID-19 or any stressful life change, the body produces more cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, which increases heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension. If you happen to be trying to sleep when this reaction happens, well, you can see it is at odds with a peaceful night’s slumber. It’s important to recognize that not being able to sleep is not always a mental issue, as many people think, it actually has a physical cause too.
Insomnia, along with temporary sleep problems, are indeed a vicious circle, one which can seem impossible to escape. It’s important to remember that it affects different people in different ways. Some cannot get to sleep, some wake repeatedly in the night and others will wake once, but not be able to get back to sleep. However it affects you, it’s the same hormonal response. You want to sleep so your body can heal and destress, but you can’t sleep because you are worrying and your mind won’t switch off. So you get disturbed sleep which affects your mental and physical health. Back in bed, you then worry about the lack of sleep and its effect on your ability to heal, which keeps your brain even more occupied at a time when you just want to sleep. The ultimate Catch-22.
There are many things you can do to help your sleep quality and quantity at this difficult time:
Everyone needs people l to lean on. At a time when everyone is social distancing, loneliness and isolation makes people feel they have less support from others. This increases your feeling of chronic, physiological stress. So make sure you regularly reach out to people who care about you.
From yoga to reading, whatever chills you out is something you should be actively doing every day. The sooner you can lower your anxiety and stress hormone levels, the quicker melatonin ( your sleep hormone) can take over and get you ready for bed.
Yes, we get it. The first couple weeks of social distancing permitted you to catch up on all your TV. If you enjoy watching TV, that’s great! But to make sure you’re relaxed and ready for bed, don’t watch TV (or play video games) too late in the evening. The stimulating content and the blue light from the screen won’t give your brain a chance to wind down.
During a worldwide pandemic, reading all the headlines from every news source you can find may lead to increased stress levels. That’s because many of the news stories are negative, which may lead to feelings of anxiety. Read one or two stories from papers or online pages you trust, but no more. It’s good to stay updated on what’s going on, but fake news is especially easy to stumble across during the COVID-19 epidemic. As an addendum, make sure you’re not constantly checking your phone before bed -- the blue light from your phone will make you toss and turn!
If you are self-isolating or working from home, it’s vital you maintain some sort of order to your day. Our brains are programmed to have a plan, so knowing what is happening and at what time keeps your mind happy and content. Don’t be tempted to go to bed late or have a lie-in. If you can do so safely, get some sunlight when you first wake up. That will help your body’s circadian rhythm keep its normal schedule.
If you really find your mind is whirling with stress before bedtime, take a pen and paper to bed and jot down your worries as they come to you. The act of writing them down if often enough to calm the most turbulent mind.
The Coronavirus outbreak has had a dramatic impact not just on physical health, but also mental health. Our world has suddenly got much smaller with the social distancing recommendations by health authorities and many of you will have switched from working from a large office space to working from home or even on your mattress. It’s important that these rather cramped conditions we find ourselves in are not cramping our mental capacity to cope.
Working from home (WFH) is the ideal opportunity to spend some quality time with your loved ones. It’s an opportunity we don’t normally have, since the pace of normal life is so busy, trying to balance your work and personal lives. This is the time to sit back and appreciate the quality moments you have unexpectedly been given. However, if you are currently WFH, you may be suffering many stresses that are over and above your professional life. Whether single or a couple, spending all day under the same roof can be the catalyst to disagreements, unnecessary comments or conflicts that are bought on by stress with the situation. Even when you leave the house, social distancing means that a simple errand can become one of worry and concern.
For those with children, the situation is further exasperated. Add to the mix home-schooling, short attention spans, the need to be constantly entertained and a natural concern for your children's wellbeing and it’s no wonder many parents are finding this time hard to cope with.
Humans are wired to connect with other humans, physically and emotionally, in order to combat stress and anxiety. However, with the limitations that Coronavirus has placed on us all, those conversations, touches and hugs are a thing of the past in the short term. Although the wonders of technology mean that we can keep in contact electronically, this is not the perfect replacement. Social isolation and loneliness have been identified as a serious issue, especially in the elderly, and can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, dementia and stroke.
The key to combating these feelings is to create connections. Doing something for others is a great example. Helping out in a food distribution centre, while keeping to current guidelines and restrictions from your local government, gives a sense of support for not just the recipients, but also the other volunteers.
A simple phone call will also help. Hearing a loved one's voice keeps your personal connection alive, and emotions such as laughter and even empathy at this time remind you of the love you have for that friendship. Even better, a video call or conference with a few people at a time will make you feel closer to people than you thought possible, and a virtual hug is better than no hug at all!
So if you are feeling blue, reach out. To friends, family, colleagues and strangers to make a connection that counts.
The best way to keep social distancing from affecting your mood and emotions is to make this ‘new normal’ as pleasant as possible and to remember it is only temporary.
It’s important that emotions are kept under control so that arguments and disagreements don’t happen in the first place. The best way to do this is to make sure you are getting a good night’s sleep each evening, as this allows your body and mind to rest, regenerate and prepare you for the day ahead.
Specifically, it is the REM stage of your sleep cycle that helps the most. It is during this stage that the segments of the brain responsible for emotion regulation and processing are most activated.
A lack of sleep will reduce emotional control, meaning you will be less able to rationally deal with the other side effects of not getting enough sleep - anxiety, irritability, lack of patients and increased stress levels. This makes mood regulation in the daytime a challenge.
It is a difficult time and it’s important that whatever situation you find yourself in you consider those around you and work together to keep you, your family and your loved ones sane! Whether you’re feeling the effects of isolation due to social distancing or getting stressed with being at home, together we can turn those negative feelings into positives.
Swapping the daily commute for the convenience of working from home sounds like a perfect solution to the Coronavirus epidemic, but it comes with its own issues. The temptation to not be as strict with yourself is hard to resist, and you may find your day to day structure is more relaxed than normal. On top of this, you're practicing social distancing so you’re going out less, depriving your body and mind of the benefits of exposure to daylight. In taking away your daily journeys, you’ve taken away vital ways to keep yourself healthy. But there’s an easy way to look after yourself with very little effort.
Your body clock controls and enables your sleep, waking and daily activities. Otherwise known as your circadian rhythm, sticking to a schedule that is synched to sunrise and sunset is one of the best ways to keep yours balanced. This is an essential way to stay healthy, especially with the challenges of the current Coronavirus outbreak. With a healthy rhythm, your body is better prepared to deal with daily tasks on a physical and mental level. Experts recommend sticking to a routine as your brain also works better when it is expecting an event rather than random occurrences.
It’s all too easy to get lazy when you are working from home. With no need to set the alarm early, no requirement to have meals at set break times and the temptation to have a late-night snack(nothing to get up for right?), it’s all too easy to neglect your body clock. But within a short period of time, your body will start signalling that it is suffering. Concentration is interrupted and you may find it harder to focus on your next conference call or other workday tasks. This will make your day less productive and make it impossible to reach your full potential, especially with the challenges of remote working.
More worryingly, interconnected functions become uncoordinated, so your immune system and metabolism may get out of sync with what the body needs from them to keep you healthy, leading to weight gain and illness. Emotions become a little jumbled also, so your ability to stay calm and make rational decisions (work or otherwise) will be affected, not ideal in the reduced personal space we are all having to work within at the moment.
In the longer term, the risk to your physical health from diabetes and cardiovascular disease, among others, increases.
By simply combining a regular eating pattern with maintaining a regular sleep and wake cycle during this difficult time, one that is synced to sunrise and sunset, you will have a happy and healthy rhythm that is preparing you to deal with the day ahead.
It’s really easy to get your rhythm set, even with the restraints of working from home. Set your alarm for the same time everyday, as close to your ‘normal’ time as possible. And at the end of the day, go to bed at the same time each night, following a set routine that allows you plenty of time to get a good night’s sleep. During the day, work facing out of a window if possible to maximise exposure to daylight. If that's not possible, just spend a few moments every now and then looking outside or even just basking in the warmth the sun's rays provide from inside.
When it comes to eating, aim to have breakfast, lunch and dinner at your regular time to help your body keep its rhythm in check. Resist the urge to snack at random intervals during the day - not many of us are used to having a full fridge just a short distance from your working space, we know it’s hard - but it will confuse your body and make you less likely to eat healthily and regularly.
In their innocence, this Coronavirus pandemic is everything kids ever dreamt of: no school! That means that your children can stay in to watch TV or play games, have minimal homework and overall have a very relaxed schedule. But as any parent knows, if children aren’t going to school, they’re going to be incredibly restless. Don’t have enough energy to babysit your children 24/7? Getting your child into a regular sleep and wake pattern will help them, and you, to deal with the challenges of the day ahead in a rational and calm way as well as helping with the physical aspects of child development.
It’s important to remember that sleep, especially quality sleep, needs to be a priority for children. It is the time when their body is developing emotionally and physically and sleep helps that to happen. Brain, body and immune system building all relies on sleep. Maybe it’s time to take advantage of the situation and teach your little ones the importance of a good sleep schedule.
When sleeping, a child’s body is getting the rest it needs to build and prepare itself for the future. It helps them to:
The amount of sleep needed for optimal child development depends on their age. Here is a guide:
|Age||Recommended Sleep Hours
per 24 Hour Period
|Infant: 4 to 12 months||12 to 16 hours (including naps)|
|Toddlers: 1 to 2 years||11 to 14 hours (including naps)|
|Preschoolers: 3 to 5 years||10 to 13 hours (including naps)|
|Primary School: 6 to 12 years||9 to 12 hours|
|Teens: 13 to 18 years||8 to 10 hours|
Most importantly, during the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s important for your child, and you, that you maintain a regular sleep and wake cycle. Don’t be tempted to let them sleep in or watch ‘just a few minutes more’ of their favourite program before going to bed. It may seem hard, or ‘unfair’, but follow our tips to get your youngsters into a routine that works for everyone during this difficult time:
Even when they are stuck at home and not doing a lot, kids still need time to wind down and relax, in fact, it increases the quality of sleep, so make sure they have that. Make it enjoyable, so whether a story, podcast or a warm bath, ensure they look forward to bedtime.
Wake them up and get them up in the morning, even if they don’t have any classes to attend.
Whatever screen time you allow your kids, seeing as they are home all day, schedule it in earlier in the day than normal. This way the break between electronic shutoff and bed is longer, making it easier to resist the ‘just one more episode’ scenario!
Your child might not be running around the school yard or attending sports practice for a while, but you can still introduce a workout into their daily routine. Do some fun fitness exercises together at home (like jumping jacks!) as exercise not only tires them out, it also helps regulate sleep.
By staying in so much, it might be easy to forget that the weather is changing outside. Make adjustments to your inside temperature to keep comfortable. In particular, make sure your kids room is kept cool, ideally around 18 degrees. For you as well as your children, temperature has a huge impact on sleep induction and quality.
Maintaining your home and bedroom hygiene is essential at all times, though more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to not just disinfect your living space thoroughly, but also to make an effort to bring in as little germs as possible. We’ve listed out different steps that we recommend doing in sequence so that you can keep your home and bedroom pristine!
Working together as a community has never been more important than now. Because of the Coronavirus outbreak, now individual actions taken together can have an enormous effect not only on our neighbours, but people halfway across the world. Besides taking care of yourself and your family, we all need to think about how we can help the community. We’ve put together a checklist of things you can do to fight the virus, flatten the curve, and help your neighbours. Let’s all do our part!
Your Movie date can wait. Please slow the spread of the disease by limiting close social contact.
Not only will this protect yourself from other people’s germs, but it will protect everyone around you from your germs! Plus, it destigmatized wearing a face mask for individuals who are truly sick, meaning they’re much more likely to wear a face mask in public.
Have an itchy throat or runny nose? These symptoms probably aren’t very serious, but during the COVID-19 outbreak, the last thing you want to do is pass an illness to the people around you. Even if the illness is relatively harmless, it can still do real harm! For instance, if your friend or colleague catches the common cold, they may worry and self-quarantine; they may even pass it to their family!
Be a good neighbour: For example, we’ve noticed around the world, people have put out toilet paper on their doorstep for neighbours to take (since it’s so difficult to find!) and some others have displayed their contact information in public areas of their building, so neighbours who need help have a friendly contact to turn to (ie, getting groceries)!
When the first wave of COVID-19 hit Hong Kong, masks were a very scarce commodity. We noticed that some had to line up overnight to purchase just a few and others couldn’t afford the new astronomical pricing masks were sold for.
During this first wave of COVID-19, we were lucky to secure 3000 face masks. Having noticed so many people in the community with issues procuring masks, we hosted a mask giveaway event to help 600 neighbours in the community, with a priority given to elders.
During the event, we experienced first hand how urgently many families in our neighborhood needed face masks, especially seniors. Many people showed up to our event with soiled masks. We’d like to encourage everyone to give when you can because seniors are the ones that have been hit the hardest during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Show kindness to the homeless community! There are many different ways to do it, such as directly helping someone you see on the street if it looks like they may need help or supplies. Or you can join ImpactHK’s Kindness Walks. ImpactHK is an organization with a wonderful mission of making the lives of the homeless better by giving them food, supplies, a warm community, and even jobs and homes!
Our team recently joined one of their Kindness Walks, donating 200 of our own face masks to a large homeless community near Sham Shui Po. In addition to face masks, we also handed out temporary beds, food, water, and tasty treats. By the end of the night, we helped more than 100 homeless individuals! If you have time and want to help, you can check their website for their kindness walk schedule: https://impacthk.org/events/
Helping local families during COVID-19 was something important that we wanted to do during this difficult time. That's why we wanted to reach out to our non-profit partner Crossroads Foundation on different ways to help. Recently, we teamed up Crossroads and Hong Kong social services to coordinate a response to benefit local families during the coronavirus epidenice. The result? We donated a whole truck of mattresses to help more than 20 local families! Our generous donation helps affected families enjoy a better night’s sleep under difficult circumstances in Hong Kong.
Want to support your local community too? Help local students access online learning during COVID-19 now by donating monitors to Crossroads. Click on the link below as they still need 250 monitors: https://bit.ly/3b0DEab
The fight against Coronavirus has put us all in an unprecedented and unimaginable position and changed the way we work, our family dynamics and our leisure time. It may seem overwhelming juggling all of these changes, but with a good night’s sleep you are helping your mind and body to be the strongest they can at this difficult time. Remember, while this new way of living will be short lived, the changes this time will make to our lives and become a positive driver for the future.