Updated: Sep 18, 2020
We’re several weeks (I think?) into schooling and working from home, or for some of us, working harder “out there” as others are forced home. I’ve been hearing mixed reviews about how it’s going for kids and the adults. Whether you are working part time or overtime in an essential field, working from home, or out of work (hopefully very) temporarily, paying attention to your wellness is also essential. This is true if you have kids at home, too. Imagine going through all of this with so much less frame of reference than adults; most of their angst is surely focused on not being able to see their teachers or their friends. Paying attention to our physical well-being can help with mental well-being as well.
I’ve previously addressed some physical and mental health benefits tied to exercise, but I’d like to call further attention on a few things we could all be doing every day. Even if you’re feeling overwhelmed or too stressed to add anything new, here are 3 quick reminders of things you can focus on. If you refer back to previous blog posts, there is some elaboration on each, but I think we could always use another reminder.
Salvage Your Good Eating Habits
Some people stress eat...I get that. And I don’t even begrudge indulging on comfort food and junk food. Occasionally. But if you don’t make those indulgences a treat instead of the norm, they can quickly become too much a part of your daily diet. It’s tough. You are home with all those foods available, and not much to occupy your mind (or too much to occupy it so that you mindlessly feed on snacks without paying attention to how much you’ve had).
Some suggestions: change the stimulus response equation, meaning if you want the snack but know you aren’t actually hungry replace eating with another activity. Of course I would suggest a physical activity! Want some chips? Go for a walk instead. Second lunch calling your name? Do some yoga. If you are still at a workplace location and you want that candy bar out of the vending machine? Clean your desk and walk to get some water. If you actually are hungry, replace the desired unhealthy food with a healthy option. Chewing gum and drinking ice cold water can also help give you something to do that feels like eating and also gives your stomach a little something to do that could help it forget about junk food. For most people, cravings pass in under 10 minutes, so if you can just distract yourself or give your stomach an alternative, the feelings should pass.
Move At Least A Little Everyday
By now you’ve heard that ideally you should be getting around 60 minutes of physical activity a day. But even if you can’t normally get that much movement, avoiding too much sedentary time is very important. If you are still for long periods, get up and at least walk around every 1-2 hours. I recommend doing this even if you are getting 30-60 minutes of vigorous exercise. It’s better for your circulation and mental space to change the scenery and let your body move often. Walking outside is even better with fresh air, doses of vitamin D from the sun, a change of scenery, and more distance from the sources of stress at our desks, tables, houses. Walking with family members gives you a collective change of venue, with some time to explore nature or talk about fun topics.
Get Some Sleep
Sleep is a weapon in our arsenal to fight off stress, anxiety, depression, weight gain, inflammation and even cancer and heart/blood pressure problems, and improves brain function. That’s it. That’s my argument for getting adequate amounts and quality of sleep. Some things you can do to improve your sleep: get regular exercise to help regulate bodily systems, consume your last calories at least 2 hours before bed, turn away from screens at least 30 minutes before bed, and make your bed and bedroom a comfortable place to calm your mind and body.
With so many other things to worry about right now, reducing worries about your health to just a few things can relive a lot of that worry. This is the baseline, and if you can raise your levels of accomplishment on healthy eating, exercise and good amounts of sleep, you’re in even better shape to face the rest of the issues on a daily basis.