Could it be that... Health

Did 2020 change our health vocabulary?

This year, health has not been just about important-sounding words thrown at us by healthcare professionals and writers. It has been about using them in our daily conversations and practice. We spoke about building immunity and detoxing our bodies, wearing face masks that only surgeons wore before, sanitising our spaces, even our hands.

If there is one thing 2020 taught us, it is that health is not to be taken for granted, that our co-morbidities — asthma, diabetes, hypertension, for instance — make us more vulnerable to complications and death if we contract COVID-19.

I know I am at higher risk than many healthy people because I have asthma, so this year, my endeavour has been to understand the reason behind my asthma, its triggers and what makes it worse. I am not permanently on steroidal medication, but my aim is to avoid them altogether in the long run through lifestyle changes.

I found that just 20 minutes of pranayama in the morning sun helped, that yoga (especially the Surya Namskar) reduced my rhinitis, that walking briskly was better than running, and that spending time noticing my breath as the last thing before bed helped me get better sleep. The rainy weather was bad for my breathing and so was over-eating! I made sure to keep my medication with me at all times — on my bedside table, in my bag for when I went out, and used it when I had to.

Many of us often accept a ‘verdict’ and believe poor prognosis is for life; I did too, for 20 years. We may continue to smoke, to eat junk food daily, to resist exercise, or to drink regularly and get bad sleep. COVID-19 has woken us up to the fact that we can indeed take health into our hands. That we can keep a diary of the food we eat, routines we practise, and the stress we feel. These will invariably throw up patterns that may help our doctors, even if we don’t see a thread in our own entries.

The virus has also taught us to be cautious, to call out a bad practice (spitting), to stay at home when we have a cold or cough. Mostly though, it has taught us to be thankful for where we live — with the choice of good nutrition and the privilege of clean surroundings.

Beyond the complex words of anti-inflammatory and gut microbiome (gut health was a subject of great discussion this year), we have come to realise that health is about eating fresh and according to our needs, breathing deeply, and resting our minds and our bodies.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 4:21:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/did-2020-give-us-a-new-health-vocabulary/article33385663.ece

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