With most businesses and restaurants closed and our country working hard to avoid the devastation that the Corona virus has had on China and Italy, all of America is experiencing somewhat of a quarantine. Personally, we are finding ways to manage in our house, despite the worry over family members and friends getting sick and the endless exposure to news reports and social media posts focusing on COVID-19 and the state of the economy.
But how can we stay physically and mentally strong during this crucial time of distress? How will Americans handle what may turn out to be more than a 2 1/2-week isolation period? How do we function with the constant worry about the economic crisis? I think the best way to survive something like this is by keeping up with a healthy routine.
Here are 15 tips for creating a healthy routine at home during this troubling time:
- Create a daily schedule or routine. Many people are now working from home, so the day is busy and filled with work obligations on their computers. Others are trying to deal with having young children at home all day. And some of us may just be looking at hours of boredom. Whatever your situation, please try to create a daily schedule. Mine looks something like this:
- 7:00 am quiet time before everyone gets up; plan recipes to make for my blog and for dinner, check emails, pay bills, call mom
- 8:00 am coffee and breakfast with the family (coffee is always the best start to my day! can you say ADDICTED?)
- 9:30 am workout (I actually look forward to this now! crazy!)
- 11:00 am shower and dress (Although I’m tempted to stay in my pajamas all day, I think it’s important to get dressed! I will admit I am wearing very comfortable and ugly clothes cause why wear anything cute?)
- 12:00 pm go to grocery store or start to blog (And to think I used to tire of going to the grocery store?!? Now it’s the highlight of my day!)
- 1:00 pm lunch (time to eat AGAIN?)
- 2:00 pm walk outside (Why do I live in Chicago?? BRRR!)
- 3:00 pm blog; have tea and a healthy snack; do laundry; clean the house (I’m realizing cleaning is quite satisfying! HA!); call my older children who are not living at home
- 5:00 pm start to make dinner (my husband is like a senior citizen and likes to eat really early)
- 5:30 pm watch the news (depressing)
- 6:30 pm dinner with family (SO tell me honey, what did YOU do today??)
- 8:00 pm family game; watch tv (YAY!!! GAME OF THRONES!!! JON SNOW—I LOVE YOU!!)
- 10:00 pm read and go to bed (why am I even tired??)
Your schedule may look totally different than mine, but what is important is that you create a routine every day that works for you.
2. Exercise daily. Gyms and workout facilities are closed. So your only option is to workout at home. If you have a workout room in your house, you’re golden. But if not, that does not mean you can not work out. There are lots of exercise routines you can do using only your body! Search online for cardio and full-body strength workouts you can do with or without equipment. You’ll find lots of free YouTube videos—I tried one from Fitnessblender.com and liked it. Many apps like Peloton and Sculpt Society offer free trials for online workouts, and many gyms are offering online workouts for members. You can also run, walk or bike outside, weather permitting. Whatever it may be, exercise for 1 hour daily.
3. Get outside every day. Take at least a 30-minute walk outside every day. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, mid-day as a break from work, or in the evening, getting outside every day for some fresh air will be crucial. It may be with your dog, with a family member or alone; it may be bundled up or with an umbrella. Whatever it is, find the time and walk in the fresh air, even if you already worked out.
4. Eat healthy. This is of utmost importance. Healthy foods will keep you feeling your best, keep your energy up and keep your immune system in tip-top shape to fight Corona–and that means to fight avoiding it and to fight it if you get it. To get tips on how to eat healthy, read my previous blog post “My 12 Rules of Healthy Eating and Healthy Living”.
5. Don’t graze. When you’re home all day and going stir crazy, it’s really hard not to feel like the food in the kitchen is calling for you. Set up times in your daily schedule to eat meals and snacks. Make yourself a healthy meal comprised of protein, fruits and/or vegetables and a whole grain. For snacks, you can have just fruit and/or vegetables and protein, and skip the whole grain unless you’re really hungry. Always put your meals and snacks on a plate and then sit down and eat. DO not graze and DO not stand and eat in the pantry or at the counter. When you’ve finished eating, you’re done. If you still find yourself wanting to eat, then drink some water, hot tea or coffee instead. And get out of the kitchen for a while.
6. Take your vitamins. I am actually not a big vitamin proponent. There is a lot of research out there stating that vitamins don’t really have much of an effect on health, so I prefer to get my vitamins from foods. However, with this insanity going on, I don’t think it can hurt to take a daily multivitamin or some type of immunity booster. I would also suggest adding a daily cup of hot green or black tea to your day to benefit from the high levels of antioxidants they contain. Lemon and honey allowed!
7. Stay hydrated. Start your morning with one big glass of water. Then drink lots of water all day long. And lots of hot drinks as well–coffee, hot water, tea. Being hydrated helps you stay healthy and apparently hot liquids can help keep the virus from settling in your throat or lungs. Is it true?? Who knows. But either way, hot drinks make us feel good!
8. Be kind to yourself. You deserve a little love during this trying time! So let yourself have an occasional glass of wine or a sweet treat once a day. The trick is to not let it get out of hand. When we are wallowing in anxiety, we want to treat ourselves. and make ourselves feel better. That’s fair, but just take care to control the indulgences. Otherwise you will end up feeling worse and have the effects to deal with when this is all over. And it WILL be over.
9. Stay connected to friends and family. Text and call your friends and family daily. FaceTime so you can see each other. Schedule conference calls or video conferencing to get your whole family or friend group on the phone at the same time. Check in with friends who you haven’t spoken to in a while. Ask your neighbors if they need anything. Keep in touch with co-workers and clients while working from home. Human connection will make all of us feel less alone and much better.
10. Add some enjoyable activities to your routine besides work. And fretting. Read a great book (go to goodbookfairy.com for great book recommendations), watch a great show or movie or documentary, do a craft, take out the old puzzles and games you’ve been storing in your closet, play brain games like Sudoku or crossword puzzles or Word Warp on the iPhone, experiment with some new recipes, play canasta or mahjong online, do some home facials and spa days, practice your piano. Find some things that you like to do and that you can look forward to doing, and add them to your daily routine.
11. Be productive. Well it’s certainly a great time to get productive! SO clean your garage refrigerator, organize your pantry, dust your ceiling fans, cook lots of big pots of stuff and freeze portions for later consumption (see my recipes on this blog!), purge your closet, clean your drawers, clean out your car. Just try to do a few productive things during this time.
12. Help others and think about who may need help. People often feel funny asking for help, so think about older people or people with immune-compromised illnesses or people who are living with people with immune-compromised issues who don’t want to be exposed and see if you can drop any groceries or supplies at their door. Also think about people who are struggling to get by right now and offer support in any way you can, even if it just means giving them a call to say that you are there and you care.
13. Take care of yourself mentally. To help cope with stress and anxiety you may be experiencing during this time, try reading self-help books, listening to inspirational podcasts, journaling, meditating (try Michelle’s Sanctuary on YouTube for guided sleep meditations or the Relax & Rest app on your iPhone), talking to a therapist by phone, and experimenting with CBD oil to help with anxiety and sleep.
14. Do something you have always wanted to do but never really had time. We all have things that linger on our “To Do” lists. Things like scanning all of your photographs, writing that story that’s been brewing in your head for years, making a scrapbook for your family, painting the basement. Now may be the time to tackle that big project.
15. Keep your mind occupied and learn something new. This may be the perfect opportunity to learn a new language on Babbel.com, start a blog, learn how to apply makeup like a professional, take an online class. Keeping your mind occupied will help you to avoid worry and anxiety.
The good news is we are ALL in this together. And maybe in the end, with all of this forced slowing down of life, we will have some new realizations about our priorities and ourselves and our world. And then life will get back to “normal”, but maybe in a different way. Because like everything, this too shall pass.