Ten Ways to Stay Health and Fit While Sheltering in Place During the COVID19 Crisis
Beverly Tignor, Ph.D., A.B.P.P.
1. Find your passion- Think about all the things you wanted to do (little things or bigger ones) when you were away at work or school full time, and had no way to do them. Maybe it’s a garden you wanted to plant, a recipe you wanted to make, a walk you wanted to take, a book you wanted to read, a letter you wanted to write, an instrument you wanted to play, a language you wanted to learn. Now is your time to do just that either by yourself or together as part of a family.
2. Plan each day- Make or use your cell phone calendar or an agenda to plan out each day’s activities from when you rise to when you retire at night. Try to follow the calendar throughout the week, making your entries a combination of activities which happen at the same time each day and those which are unique and add variety to your daily life.
3. Start each day with a period of positive reflection- Think about things you are thankful for (loved ones, friends and neighbors, health professionals and front line workers, those who grow and produce the food you eat, your life and health); recite them in your mind; share and pray about them with others.
4. Plan your work time-If you are a single parent with small children and working full time from home now, this will be most difficult. If you have a partner or close friend that can share child-rearing responsibilities, this will be helpful but still a challenge, allowing the two of you to at least work out a schedule. For all ages, plan a place and time (perhaps shorter multiple times) at home for you to work without distractions, encouraging minimal disturbance.
5. Make time for exercise- Stress does not distinguish between causes which are physical or emotional. Stress is cumulative and does takes a toll on your body as well as your mind. For that reason, a certain amount of physical exercise as well as relaxation is necessary each day. On nice days where possible, take a 30 minute to 1 hour walk or bike ride near to where you live; visit a local, county, or state park if open. On rainy days, exercise indoors if able by watching and participating in an exercise video on your TV or cell phone, practicing yoga, using a treadmill or indoor bike.
6. Restrict the amount of time watching the news- The news these days is stressful as everyone knows, and a continual diet of stress is unhealthy and, in some cases, leads to PTSD. Therefore, watch the news daily but, perhaps, at specified times, once or twice per day, and not continually throughout the day and night.
7. Make Time for Your Friends, Family, and Neighbors- Be creative in the ways you connect with others as you practice social distancing. Organize mutually convenient times to call or make video calls with friends and family on a regular basis. Set up a game night by video call during which multiple couples or families can participate; exchange creative stories with your grandchildren. Play board games with your children; encourage them to talk about their feelings (e.g., fear, sadness, boredom) regarding life in the present and what they look forward to in the future. Email your friends and relatives in other parts of the country and world to see how they are doing and what they are doing during this time of international crisis. Let them know that you care.
8. Practice Indoor Etiquette-When shopping for groceries or when at other stores where supplies are needed, be courteous to other shoppers, wearing a face mask and gloves, not hoarding supplies of desired items, touching only the items you intend to purchase, not engaging in long indoor conversations with neighbors, stepping aside for other shoppers who may wish to purchase items in the row where you are standing. Safely wash all items when you return home.
9. Practice Outdoor Etiquette- Follow the CDC guidelines whenever you are outdoors, social distancing by 6 ft and wearing a mask to prevent the spread of virus, remembering that asymptomatic people can and often may be carriers. While taking a walk, be friendly and wave or say hello to people you meet, while being courteous and maintaining appropriate distance, stepping aside when necessary.
10. Prepare for Bed and Rest-Look forward to each day as a new opportunity. In order to do your best, your body needs rest at night. Allow at least one hour at night for you and your family to settle down. No video games during this time, please. Continue your normal bedtime rituals for yourself and your children. Read a novel, draw, or play some quiet, relaxing music. Watch an old favorite movie. Practice gentle breathing, clearing your mind and letting go of today’s worries with the expectation of waking refreshed. Make it your goal to get 7-8 hours of rest as an adult, and 10 hours for children.
© 2005, Morris County Psychological Association