Our homes are an expression of ourselves. How we design the space around us shapes our mood, productivity, and overall experience in life. Now more than ever, we are spending more time at home. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. We can use this time to our full advantage. Whether it be spending more time with family, redecorating a living space, nurturing a new hobby, the possibilities are endless.
Staying positive is the best thing we can do for ourselves. Scientific studies have shown that we can have an impact on our happiness by adjusting the tiny little habits and routines that constitute our daily lives—we are, in fact, in control of our outlook on life. Why not make those adjustments while we have the time? Let’s use the extra ‘home time’ to create healthy habits that we can take with us far into the future. Here are our 5 tips to stay healthy while staying home!
Create a Schedule
Creating a schedule not only structures your day, it can help you to stay focused on your goals. Doing this, you and those around you can go to bed feeling like your day had a sense of normalcy. Not everyday is going to be perfect; sometimes laying in bed binge watching your favorite show all day is just what the doctor ordered. However, having the schedule to return to can keep you from getting into a rut or feeling out of control.
We added a sample schedule below that has been working for us. It's important to remember that everyone is different and it's ideal to be flexible in developing a system that works for you, and those around you, during this time. For example, if you have kids you may want to schedule in specific playtime and learning time. Whatever works! Be compassionate with yourself and recognize that you are doing the best you can during this time.
Start an at Home Yoga Practice
As gyms, yoga studios and fitness centers are closing down, it’s essential to find a way to expend negative energy so that we do not bring it into our current living and work space. While HIIT and weight training may not be readily available to all, yoga is an accessible outlet that can be done in any space and in any body. Furthermore, it's easy to create an environment that enhances your practice.
First, declutter your space to create maximum openness for movement and energy flow. Then, light an aromatic candle, pull down the shades halfway, and choose an object to center your intention, and voila, any room can be transformed into a studio within a matter of minutes. This article from Yoga Journal outlines 5 tips to build a DIY Yoga Sanctuary in your home.
Here is a 5 minute yoga session with a few basic poses. This Complete Health Series is meant to integrate mind, body and soul. These postures are an awesome way to start the day when it seems like you don't have the time nor the mental space to do a "workout". This routine will help to center and ground you for the rest of your busy day.
For those who like a guided practice, most yoga studios are offering online yoga and meditation classes. Additionally, Youtube has a large database of yoga “gurus” offering at home videos. Below are some of our favorite yoga resources:
- Yoga International
- Yoga Glo
- Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga
- Yogadownload.com offers free online classes in multiple different focuses
- Core Power Yoga is offering online classes for free focused on strength
- Down Dog offers strength and stress relief yoga classes for free
- Many Instagram Yogis are also offering guided at-home practice. This article from elle.com lists their favorites.
As far as meditation goes, there are countless apps available on the Apple and Google Play store that offer free and paid guided meditations. Below is a list of our top resources for at home meditation:
- Buddify was named by Buzzfeed as the best meditation app to ease anxiety.
- Headspace is a user friendly way to start or restart a mediation practice.
- Osho, meditation resort located in the South of India, posts daily meditations and readings on their app.
- 1 Giant Mind is teaching the world to meditate through their application.
- John Kabat-Zinn has a useful book on Mindfulness Meditation that you can download here.
- Spotify even offers an entire meditation library that is available with or without an account. Play this music while working to stay focused and stress-free.
Stay Social through Digital Communication
Although you cannot physically be with friends and family during this time, there are plenty of ways to stay connected! We are lucky to have so many resources available to us for checking in on loved ones. Leaning on others for support is more vital than ever. Seeing your loved one’s faces on Zoom can help to reduce anxiety and loneliness.
This is a time for getting creative in the ways we communicate with others. There is a fantastic article on Parade.com that gives 40 suggestions on how to stay social during quarantine. We want to highlight some of our favorites.
Celebrate milestones with a virtual hangout
- “My friend, Matt Bordofsky, turned 42 today and approximately 29 friends (and their dogs) showed up via Zoom to celebrate with him,” says Keren Poznansky, a publicist in Los Angeles. She noted that this celebration brought together friends from all across the globe— “the furthest person was from Lithuania.” The party, says Poznansky, started at 8:30 p.m. “We poured some drinks and toasted the birthday boy. We made each other laugh by putting up our favorite vintage photos of the man of the hour as backgrounds from the ’80s, ’90s, etc. We all sang happy birthday and he blew out the candles on his Commissioner Gordon Batman ’89 cake,” she shares. “Matt made a speech, he thanked everyone for coming, we all cheered and it ended around 9 p.m.”
Share a toast with a virtual happy hour
- “To keep up with her network, Renee Paczkowski, an administrative assistant in Troy, Michigan, is meeting up with friends for scheduled virtual happy hours. “Two of my friends and I used to regularly go to trivia or local breweries, but hadn’t had the chance to lately because life got too busy. And, as all of us are working at home to some extent, and it’s not possible to go out, I suggested that we have a virtual happy hour over either FaceTime (we all have iPhones) or Hangout,” she says. The first one is scheduled for Friday and for Packowski, the drink of choice will be whiskey.”
Cooking together through a video call
- “Sarah Agajanian, an artist in Los Angeles, recently logged onto FaceTime to have her pal, Michele Hodeda, led her in a cooking class. “She taught me how to make mushrooms and walnut tacos. She’s an amazing cook. And it was such a cool experience! It really made time go by quickly and truthfully felt like a full blown hangout session,” adds Agajanian.”
Watch a “socially distanced” movie together
- “There’s a Google Chrome extension that allows you to watch Netflix with other people by using your own personal invite link,” says Lindsay Musgrove, a certified peer specialist in Houston, Texas. To do this, she says, you need Google Chrome, and the Netflix Party extension through the Google Chrome store within the same browser. “Install it, and you are able to watch Netflix with someone long distance, as well as having a dedicated personal chat room with them. It may seem like they are far away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t Netflix and Chill while apart.”
Other ideas could be to schedule an online coffee date, plan weekly lunches, start a book club, or turn on some music and have a dance party. Whatever you need to do to relieve stress and remove anxiety about your current situation should be done. We are all in this together and your loved ones are probably feeling the same way you are. Let's all support each other in staying happy and healthy during this time!
Take Care of your Body
While it may be easy to say screw it and let yourself eat whatever, the easy way isn't always the best way. Eating poorly only adds anxiety to an already high-stress situation. Now is the time for your inner chef to come out! Get creative with healthy meals. There are plenty of websites that provide delicious and nutritious recipes.
- Minimalist Baker offers simple recipes that make you feel good and include vegan as well as gluten free options!
- Gluten Free Baking offers amazing recipes for those who are avoiding gluten in their diets.
- NYTimes created a list of easy recipes that can be made with ingredients most people already have on hand. The fried rice and parmesan white bean soup look especially good.
- Refinery29 has also gathered a list from real self quarantining people that use pantry staples and taste delicious. Some of them are vegan friendly too!
Choose your food wisely, and stick to three meals a day. The best approach is to eat and drink with moderation, in kind and quantity.
Another practice that benefits the body and mind is pranayama, which simply means ‘control of breath’. Breath being our vital energy or life force. There are multiple different types of pranayama which offer a variety of benefits. The video below explains how to do pranayama IV, a simple technique said to tone the digestive organs, remove belly fat, enhance quietude and inner harmony, calm the nervous system, and relax the body.
Boost your Immune System
How can you stay healthy in the time of COVID-19? The two most important things you can do is improve your sleep quality and reduce stress. There’s plenty of evidence that supports why putting every effort towards improving the amount and quality of sleep you get is worthwhile, from reducing stress and inflammation to putting you at lower risk for chronic disease.
Mindfulness exercises before bed such as meditation, journaling before bed, turning off screens, taking a hot shower with a “cold plunge” finish, or apps like Calm can aid in long term sleep quality. Reduce your consumption of news to stay informed, not obsessed!
When it comes to supplements, the best approach is to reflect on your dietary vitamin and mineral intake. In an article from Vogue, Tia Clinic’s chief medical officer, Stephanie McClellan, MD suggests that Vitamin D deficiency and anemia may be common during this time. Dr. McClellan believes that certain supplements, like vitamins D and methylated B12, can be helpful alongside a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
In an article from CNN they reviewed the top methods to boost your immune system through nutrition including:
- Sweet potatoes, carrots, mangoes, apricots, spinach, kale, broccoli, squash and cantaloupe are good sources for Vitamin A which is essential for a strong immune system.
- Fatty fish, including canned fish like salmon and sardines; eggs, fortified milk and plant milk products; cheese, fortified juice, tofu and mushrooms for Vitamin D which regulates the production of a protein that selectively kills infectious agents, including bacteria and viruses
- Sources of Zinc include beans, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, fortified cereals, nuts, seeds, wheat germ, oysters (including canned), crab, lobster, beef, pork chop, dark meat poultry and yogurt. Zinc helps cells in your immune system grow and differentiate.
- Protein comes from both animal and plant-based sources and includes fish, poultry and beef as well as nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. Protein is a key building block for immune cells and antibodies and plays a crucial role in helping our immune system do its job.
- There is evidence that green, rooibos, thyme and chamomile tea can help strengthen the immune system. Even if the effect is minimal, you can't go wrong, since both are loaded with powerful antioxidants unique to each tea.
Take these habits with you!
Be grateful for the time to slow down and reflect on your habits. What is working for you? What doesn't serve you any longer? What could use some tweaking?
Take a moment to reflect on your experience thus far:
- Have you learned something new about yourself?
- Have you spent more time with your kids or taught them to cook?
- Have you found beauty in the simple things like feeling the sun on your face?
- Have you called your family more often and played silly games?
- Have you been creative and found new goals for the future?
- Have you read a new book, did you learn something?
- Have you tried something you've always wanted to but never had “time”?
Let's think about how we can use the experiences we've had in this unprecedented time to improve our future. The little things are what make life beautiful. Every moment of laughter and time spent with loved ones is precious and worthwhile. With less activity, we can adequately appreciate these moments. When returning to your normal routines and lifestyle, what newly cultivated habits can we incorporate moving forward?