Staying home during a pandemic has health advantages, but the associated stress and restrictions can take a toll your mental and physical well-being. So, if you're cooped up inside and starting to go a little stir-crazy, try these ideas for keeping yourself healthy and sane during your confinement.
Keep an eye on air quality.
It may still be a bit too cold outside to keep the windows open all day, but if your home seems stuffy, try cracking a window to get some air moving. Check your HVAC system's air filter too. It might need to be swapped out if you haven't changed it in a while. If stale indoor air has you thinking of investing in an air purifier, be sure to consider the cost of replacement filters, and choose a unit that doesn't produce ozone (such as this Winix air purifier available on Amazon), a substance that aggravates respiratory conditions.
Related: Is Your House Ruining Your Health?
Use light therapy to balance your mood.
The shift in routine and sleep schedules may be taking a toll on your mood, and you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. If your happiness levels seem to be taking a nosedive, try boosting your mood with light therapy. Fortunately, daylight hours are increasing—especially good news for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder—but a light therapy device (such as this Miroco Therapy Lamp from Amazon) may give you the boost you need to keep your spirits high.
Do bodyweight exercises.
With gyms shuttered because of the pandemic, many people are forced to improvise their workouts at home. Don't have a bunch of fancy equipment? Bodyweight exercises—exercises that use your own weight to provide resistance—are easy and effective alternatives to working out with heavy-duty commercial machines. Most of these exercises, including push-ups, squats, and lunges, are full-body movements that target multiple muscles. Bodyweight movements also improve balance and allow you to work on nailing your form.
Being productive is not a must. If you're feeling stressed and worried about the current situation, don't feel pressured to fill up your time with "useful" activities. Sometimes, the most productive thing you can do is sit back and relax. If stressing about getting enough physical activity is making you anxious, do something else instead. Choose an activity that will take your mind off your worries, and you'll help lower your blood pressure in the process.
Learn a new recipe.
Occupy your mind and fuel your body by learning to cook something new. It might be tough to find some ingredients, so challenge yourself to cook something that relies on pantry staples. Running low on provisions? Try to create a dish with what you have on hand and focus on learning a new technique instead of a recipe.
Take advantage of free fitness apps.
Stick to a sleeping schedule.
Don't throw your body's internal clock out of whack. With your routine in chaos, every day may feel like the weekend, and sticking to a routine can be a challenge. But maintaining a sleep schedule will help you feel better—mentally and physically—and it can help improve sleep quality too. Getting a restful night's sleep can be tough when there's a dramatic shift in your daily life, so give yourself a fighting chance by trying to get to bed at around the same time each night.
Open the curtains.
There's evidence that exposure to light increases serotonin and helps with depression. Maximize your exposure to natural sunlight by throwing open the curtains when you're indoors, and make time for walks around the neighborhood while (of course) maintaining social distancing protocols.
Try a new hobby.
Not everyone is built for at-home leisure. If you're struggling to entertain yourself and feel the boredom creeping in, why not explore a new hobby? Have you always wanted to learn to knit? Maybe you've been meaning to try your hand at gardening? Use your downtime to your advantage by learning something new. It takes focus to pick up a new skill, so even if you don't develop a lifelong love of a new craft, you'll at least be distracted from the doom and gloom.
Try a virtual group fitness class.
Watch a movie with friends.
Play video games.
A record number of video game enthusiasts have been signing into gaming platforms these past few weeks. Now more than ever, folks are turning to virtual worlds for comfort and distraction. Some studies show that gaming has the potential to reduce stress and improve mood. So, if you're feeling lonely, why not boot up a multiplayer game and get together with your friends online?
Pick up the phone.
It's tough to be forced apart from friends and family, but thankfully, we live in a world with plenty of opportunities to connect virtually. Reach out to your loved ones to check in and stay connected. Whether it's a quick text to say hello every morning or a video chat to share a smile, staying in touch is easy and a surefire way to boost your mood. If you don't have someone to reach out to, or if you feel emotionally burdened, consider seeking out a professional. Some municipalities have set up free mental health hotlines, and there are several therapy apps and online services you can access with or without insurance. As well, these days many mental health professionals are equipped to provide remote services.
Mind. Body. Spirit.
Keep your body and mind sharp with these tips for staying healthy.
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