On occasion we find ourselves stuck at home during certain events like storms, utility malfunctions, shutdowns created by natural disasters or pandemics like COVID-19. While these events are very disruptive to our normal day to day lives, it is vital to maintain some level of normality and variety.
This is especially important in order to avoid slipping into a rut or creating a lifestyle void that can have a negative impact on our overall health.
Ruts and lifestyle voids can put us at risk of sliding into an unhealthy state causing many of us to experience low energy, irritability, anxiousness, sadness, stress and even depression. Others may experience a of lack of purpose or a lower sense of ambition.
It’s important to realize that the deeper you slip into a rut the harder it is to pull yourself back to normal.
Maintain A Healthy And Diverse Routine
Its vital to maintain normality during stay-at-home events. Lifestyle voids and the lack of a healthy routine allow unhealthy and unsavoury habits to creep in and eventually take control.
Maintaining a matrix of routines such as fitness, hygiene, mealtime schedules, entertainment, learning and work type activities are important to maintain normality and variety.
Additionally, maintaining your normal sleep routine including bedtime is also important. Getting up at the regular time, getting dressed for the day and performing regular morning routines will help jump-start the day and build momentum. Remember, delaying get-up times and remaining in sleepwear tend to make us feel lazy and unmotivated to do things.
It’s important to create a healthy routine with lots of variety that supports both mental and physical health as well as your relationships.
Avoid Consuming Too Much News
Exposure to negative news can cause the body to produce excess cortisol (stress hormone) which can zap and alter our energy, mood, emotions, and greatly affect our thinking and decision making. Negative news has the potential to drive people into unhealthy states, ruts and periods of emotional distress especially with excessive consumption.
Of course, during a time of crisis its vital to be aware of an ongoing situation in order to adapt or make life saving decisions. However, only pay attention to intelligent news and avoid misery type news at all cost.
Intelligent news provides a balance of the good and the bad in an attempt to deliver an overall perspective of what’s happening. It provides valuable information allowing us to prepare accordingly.
Conversely, misery or toxic type news is delivered by use of shock value. It only presents the darkest side of any event through exaggeration and with a worse-case scenario approach. Its primary focus is to grab your attention through fear by delivering in-depth stories and stats of an escalating death toll, suffering, sadness, loss and despair.
Unfortunately, misery type news is highly addictive and has a negative impact on our mental health and drains us physically. This type of news doesn’t provide positive outcomes or hope of any kind. In Addition, it usually lacks valuable information that people can use to improve or help navigate their situation.
Choose one or two reliable news sources and only tune in a couple of times a day just to remain updated. Remember, news that is found on social media and clickbait websites are generally not accurate and often misleading.
Get In Some Laughter And Comedic Relief
We’ve all heard the old saying “Laughter is the best medicine”, this is especially true during stay-at-home situations.Laughter makes us feel good, but it does so much more. Laughter causes the brain to produce neuropeptides and neurotransmitters such as endorphins (natural stress and pain reliever), serotonin (the happy chemical), and Dopamine (the feel-good neurotransmitter).
While each of these have specific benefits, from an overall perspective, laughter acts as a fantastic stress reliever and reduces anxiety, sadness and lowers the risk of depression. It also helps to release relationship tension and helps us to relax and recharge by releasing pent up tension both mentally and physically.
It’s vital to engage in good humor or take in some comedic relief. Schedule some time in the day to watch comedies and or engage with those who make you laugh through phone calls, virtual chats or social media.
Maintain Physical Fitness
Physical exercise can help boost energy and mood, reduce stress and anxiety, elevate cognitive function and maintain overall endurance. Exercise also causes the body to release endorphins (natural stress and pain reliever) that can contribute to an overall positive mood and outlook.
For those who don’t have a home gym or fitness equipment, bodyweight workouts are available online through YouTube and other fitness websites. If weather permits, engage in walking or running but maintain physical distancing during flu season or other virus threats such as coronavirus.
Maintain Healthy Eating Habits
Maintaining a healthy diet is essential when trying to avoid slipping into a rut.
Far too many people get into bad eating habits during stay at home events. While having soda and chips or other nasty treats are acceptable from time to time, it shouldn’t be the food staple during this period.
Eating a healthy diet maintains good energy levels, improves mood, increases cognitive function and improves sleep quality. It also helps boosts stamina, and of course stabilizes your overall health.
Healthy eating is especially important for strengthening your immune system during flu season and of course during a virus pandemic such as COVID-19. Try to include green leafy vegetables, colorful foods as well as garlic, cayenne and honey. Also include foods rich in vitamins C, B6, E, A, D, folate/folic acid, Iron, Selenium and Zinc. Of course, always consult your doctor before altering your diet.
Maintain Cognitive Exercise And Creativity
This is an important one because the brain exists on a “use it or lose it” basis. Unfortunately, many people get consumed with binge watching or other mindless activities such as social media scrolling. While binge watching is great sometimes to escape or unwind, it should never become a multi-day marathon. These activities require low levels of cognitive function which reduce mental sharpness, creativity and overall ambition.
During a stay-at-home period, it is important to exercise the brain by reading, doing puzzles, dancing, playing music, improve an existing skill or learn something new. The goal is to maintain cognitive variety.
Reduce Your Screen Time
Often, we become so consumed with our devices that we forget to connect with other aspects of our life. This puts us at risk of slipping into a rut or creating a lifestyle void.
During stay-at-home periods, its important to place time limits on the use of electronic devices. This allows us to engage in other activities that are needed to create variety and maintain an overall lifestyle balance.
Negative events including weather occurrences, crises and global pandemics are only temporary situations. Our normal day-to-day lives will start to resume once these events have completed their cycle.
Experiencing these events force us to make changes and adapt accordingly but that’s what makes us stronger. Every time our intelligence and endurance are challenged it allows us to improve, to innovate and become more adaptable and prepared for the next event.
Remember, challenging events are a normal part of life, embracing them is much healthier and easier to withstand than it is to resist them.