It’s understandable that by now, many people are beginning to get a touch of cabin fever due to the COVID-19 related restrictions imposed on them. It’s become a theme of many a meme that house confined to their homes are tending to overindulge. In comfort food and in alcohol – and becoming a bit more sedentary in their habits without regular attendance at the gym – or at least getting out into the open air for some cardio-intensive exercise. It is also resulting in mental issues that are becoming increasingly common.
However, it is actually possible to enjoy a healthy lifestyle during the lockdown. It does require a little discipline, and in some cases, planning, but there are some simple steps that anyone can take to ensure that they emerge back into society once the restrictions have been lifted looking and feeling great.
Firstly, there is mental health – which influences our sometimes self-destructive behavior during this increasingly stressful time. The first step towards a better mental state is recognizing the warning signs that stress is affecting you. Those signs can include irritability, sleeplessness, lack of interest in usual pastimes, overeating, and increased alcohol consumption. One of the coping mechanisms is to accept what we can control and what we cannot. Strive for a balance between work and family time. It is extremely easy to focus exclusively on work – it provides us with a sense of certainty – but too much focus is unhealthy. If you have a garden spend some time out of doors – the clam of nature can help to relieve the symptoms of stress. Set a schedule and stick to it; there is immense comfort in routine – and it allows you to achieve that balance.
Set aside some face time with friends. A sense of being cared helps a lot with relieving stress. Laughter with those you care about and who care for you really is the best medicine – even if it is shared on a screen.
Be mindful. Be aware of your anger and irritability. Spend a few minutes exploring them in a quiet space and experiencing the physical symptoms of anger and loss of control. Clench your fists, frown, tense your muscles. Recognize those symptoms and slowly release them. Treat yourself with compassion and understanding – repeat ‘this too shall pass’. Keep that in mind at all times.
The next step is recognizing that some of our unhealthy habits are coping mechanisms – they provide us with a sense of comfort. Overeating or eating unhealthy foods provides our bodies and minds with the impression that we are both in control – and that there is ample nourishment available. It is a deep-seated need that is being addressed.
Set up a diet plan that involves healthy food. And set aside some time to cook. It is a great source of comfort – and routine. It allows us to exercise creativity and feel satisfaction even amid uncertainty. The bonus is that your body will thank you for it. It is easy to give in to the lure of fast food delivery; by setting a menu (and using perishable ingredients), you are forcing yourself to be healthy. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. You’ll know when you are straying from the path and indulging in behavior that is unusual – it’s a coping mechanism that only offers very short term benefits and results in long term damage.
Get some exercise indoors. There are many instructional videos and trainers that are helping many people stay fit during the lockdown. There are some great free options on Youtube, for instance. Or you can pay a little and get one-on-one coaching and help with motivation. You can also spend around $100 and get all the equipment you need to stay healthy at home (check out the web for a list). A healthy body and a regular bout of exercise can help you deal with the effects of stress.
Be proactive, and you will emerge from the lockdown feeling wonderful. You would have scaled that mountain that many of us are facing – and you will feel better for overcoming the challenge.