Project 20|20 – Week 11: 10 Ideas to Stay Healthy
The past couple of weeks have been a unique experience for many of us. Some of us are feeling stuck at home, I prefer the word ‘safe‘.
Being 6 feet apart, avoiding team sports, and evading social activities may help our physical health and contribute towards containing the pandemic. Still, this isolation has been hard for many of us.
I’ve had an increase in negative thoughts by talking to friends about isolation, experiencing quarantine first-handed, disrupting my routine, and stopping some of my favorite activities. Many of us are feeling lonely, anxious, and depressed.
This week, I want to share 10 ideas of what we can do to stay mentally healthy and protect our health while in social isolation.
- Set a daily routine — For many of us, being in control of our life is a significant stress reliever. While there are many things we cannot manage now, setting up a schedule at home can have a tremendous positive impact. Start simple, like defining the breakfast, lunch and dinner hours, shower time, and main activities to cover during the day. Following a regular routine will make you feel energized and accomplished. Don’t stay in your PJs the whole day, or you may start to feel depressed. What about dressing up for dinner, lighting up candles, and making it a special occasion?!
- Turn off your electronics — I did that myself for a few days. I am not saying to be unaware of what is happening outside your front door. No! We all need to know what’s going on. That said, there is no need to listen to CNN talking about the same things 300 times a day, or reading negative messages coming from our social apps all day. Disconnect from apps and TV channels that make you feel overwhelmed. Stay up to date, but preserve your mental state. Listening non-stop to what is happening around the globe 24×7 will undoubtedly increase your stress level and anxiety, and that is bad for our immune system.
- Get busy — Household project? “Marie Kondo” your home? Clean your kitchen? Try a new board game? Get your backyard ready for spring? Why not start it today? Maybe it is time to learn something new. A language, a hobby such as cooking or making candles. Skillshare has a 60-day free trial. If you want to go bolder and bigger, Harvard University is offering a selection of free online classes. Pretty amazing, right? For kids, try Scholastic and keep them busy by having them learn something new while school is closed. If you are a board-game lover, here is a list of some great games for families. You can find more fun activities for kids at Ranger Rick and for the geek ones try Swift Playground app. And why not check some cool movies? Apple has picked a few suggestions.
- Get reading — Turn off your TV, your social media apps, and turn yourself into a good book. There are many free options available for reading; take advantage of it! Companies such as Amazon and your local library (this link is to Portland, OR – Washington County library) offer digital options that can be downloaded for free. You can also try Audible for free for kids’ books while schools are closed. Choose titles that will make you feel good about yourself and can empower you. Reading can have a significant impact on our minds; besides being a stress relief, it improves memory, helps relax, and make people smarter!
- Connect virtually with people you love — I have tried virtual coffee date, girls night ‘in’ and it works. If you are a Google lover, try the Hangout app. If not, Zoom and Webex are offering free accounts. Choose your topics carefully, and don’t talk about COVID-19 and quarantine the whole time. Share what you are learning, your kid’s latest faux pas, and games. Have a laugh. Laughter naturally boosts the immune system, shut down stress hormones, and pump up immune cells that fight infections, which is what we need now.
- Get Moving — Staying at home does not translate into being inactive. You can find lots of free classes online to boost your endorphin and keep your cortisol levels low. Yoga may be a great option now. Besides helping tone up your body, yoga balances the mind. Breathing is one of the most powerful tools we have to be in the present and nurture our soul. Companies such as DownDog and CorePower Yoga are offering free subscriptions for a limited time to help during the pandemic. If you prefer other types of exercise, try Peloton (90-day free trial) and OrangeTheory Fitness.
- Meditate — Mindfulness has been a critical chapter in my life. Going in instead of going out, meant unveiling a spiritual side of me I didn’t know. In 2019, I started to meditate regularly, and it had a terrific impact on my life. Mashable has consolidated a great list of free meditation apps options, no matter where you are in your practice.
- Go outside — Nature has several physical and mental benefits. It can boost happiness, spark positive emotions, and reduced stress. If you need to improve mood, go for a quick walk outside and appreciate the spring, or sit out for 10-15 min to get a Vitamin D boost.
- Mind your diet — We are what we eat. Being mindful of our food intake is critical for our mind and body health. Don’t let your long stay-at-home period be an opportunity to mess up your health. Start with some simple swaps, and include healthier options little by little into your meals. Psycom has a great list of foods that help reduce stress and anxiety, besides being good for you!
- Follow CDC quarantine guidelines — This is critical. Doing the right thing and following CDC’s guidance, can prevent further impact in people’s lives. Even if you are healthy, young, and energetic, this is a great time to practice altruism and help others who are not. They have great ideas on how to look and find resources.
Remember, if you are struggling during this phase, don’t wait and look for help now.
It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. – Aristotle