Feeling trapped in your house due to stay at home orders? Bored stiff? Anxious? Depressed? Unproductive? As unpleasant as these feelings are, staying home has never been more important, especially for people with metabolic syndrome who have conditions that increase their vulnerability to COVID-19. For example, in one study of 5700 hospitalized patients with COVID-19, the most common preexisting conditions were hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.
You should know that even for an introvert, this is tough! I’ve worked from home for most of the last 20+ years, which has contributed greatly to my quality of life! I have weekly deadlines, but to decrease stress during this uncertain time, I put aside most all activities that do not have hard deadlines. What is different this time, is I’ve had no guilt about it. After all, we are in the middle of a pandemic!! We all deserve a break. What I’ve found in relaxing my schedule is that I am able to be more present, so that even mundane tasks are more enjoyable.
Now that you’ve had some time to adjust to this new normal, how can you transform from survival mode to thriving? Here are some suggestions:
- Social distance actually refers to physical distance since we are not banned from socializing. After all, we need our family and friends to help us through these challenging times. Stay connected via video calls, texting, social media, email, or just the good old telephone. Be creative. In Colorado, we’ve taken up howling with our neighbors at 8 pm! It creates an interesting sort of solidarity. And besides, when is the last time you howled as an adult?! It’s cathartic.
- Get some fresh air and sunshine everyday. Even Florence Nightingale wrote about the importance of this for healing.
- Get enough good sleep. Added stress can keep you awake. Decrease stress by practicing mindfulness.
- Make yourself a schedule. This may require the collaboration of a household. The idea is to provide some structure so that you are able to accomplish tasks, but do not make your goals unrealistic! It is okay to lower your productivity standards considerably in the midst of a pandemic. Break up large tasks into digestible chunks.
- Eat a healthy diet. You may not feel like bothering, but with the threat of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to have a strong immune system and healthy gut microbiome. You might enjoy cooking more with the additional time you have at home. Be bold and try something new! Between TV and YouTube, there is no shortage of cooking shows, and some people enjoy cooking right along with the chefs.
- Keep hydrated. This may seem obvious, but the majority of adults are chronically dehydrated. Drink good water and avoid getting thirsty. If I find myself craving a soda, I usually realize I’m behind on drinking water. If I drink a whole glass, the craving goes away.
- Be active. The tendency when we are home more is to increase sedentary behaviors. Resist the temptation. In addition to a simple activity such as going for a walk, include more movement in your day. For example if you are doing a lot of sitting, get up every hour or so and do some push-ups or put in a load of laundry.
- Be kind to yourself and others. It’s not easy being steady through this. Even the best of friends can get annoyed with each other when together 24/7. Have your own space as you can, but keep your eyes on the big picture and ignore the little things.
- Consider keeping a journal. The self-reflection through the written word has many benefits, such as easing anxiety and stress while improving emotional intelligence and self-confidence. And besides, this is a historic time in world history, and your grandchildren will enjoy reading about your first-hand experience!
- Take time each day to give thanks for what you are grateful for. It’s easy to forget in times of chaos and turmoil all the good things in our lives, and the good that others do in the world.
- Look for ways to help others. For example, donate to a food bank, make a meal or do some yard work for a neighbor, support a local business, volunteer for a crisis line, teach a skill online, or make a financial contribution to non-profit organizations, churches, or organizations. Also, there are many cities that have groups on Facebook to help identify neighbors in need. That positive energy will come back to you.
- Laugh! There are many health benefits, including decreased levels of stress hormones, increased level of endorphins for well-being, and increased T-cell production for immunity. If you haven’t take the time to enjoy a movie lately, check out The 30 Funniest Movies of all Time and Where to Stream Them.
- All this said, if you and/or your children are living in an unsafe environment, a safety plan has never been more important. Include a face mask(s) and hand sanitizer with your items to take when leaving. The stress from the pandemic can bring out the worst in people, and there has been a spike in domestic violence calls since stay at home orders have gone into effect. The number to the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Social distancing has proven stressful for most everyone, but maintaining it is the most kind and caring thing we can do for ourselves and others. We are all in this together! Let’s come out stronger.