Because we’re all starting to feel just a littleeee bit crazy
By: Ashley Newell
Remember those mornings not so long ago when your alarm went off and your only thought was wanting to stay curled up in your warm bed all day long? Well, that time has finally come – and it is driving you insane! It feels fair to say that no one ever thought having a staycation would feel so miserable. Staying home for weeks and maybe even months is much, much harder than most would think. You begin to lose your routine and your structure, you forget what day it is, you get fed up with your family or roommates, you run out of things to do and you spend way too much time sitting around, doing absolutely nothing. Well, I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way! If you’d like to keep your sanity during this lockdown, here are some fundamental activities to aid in your mental stability.
Move Your Body
Many people do not realize how important it is to move your body every single day. There are countless benefits to exercise, including strengthening your body, improving your lymphatic system and blood circulation, boosting energy and regulating digestion. But most importantly, exercise is vital for your mental health! A 2014 study had participants complete a non-stressful control task and a stressful task. It was reported that the participants who engaged in regular physical activity exhibited a better mood after the stressful task, than the participants who did not exercise. And since it is hard to argue that we are all going through a “stressful task” right now, there is no better reason to get moving! This can be as simple as going on a walk or bike ride (while still practicing social distancing) or even creating a space in your backyard, your house or your garage for a workout of your choice.
Don’t know what to do all on your own? There are so many online videos to follow along with! Beach Fitness even now has live-streaming daily posts on Facebook with a wide variety of exercise options. It is a great way to get yourself moving and to stay engaged with your community virtually!
Learn Healthy Recipes
It can be quite easy these days to fall into a pattern of takeout meals and frozen dinners. But now is not the time to fall into these unhealthy habits because – you guessed it – it affects your mood! This Washington Post article explains that even just ONE junk food meal “can cause a surge in insulin, leading to a quick drop in blood sugar, leaving you feeling tired, cranky and hungry for more.” The article then goes on to explain that even just one healthy meal can help reduce overall stress and inflammation of the body.
Not only are healthier foods an investment in your future health and wellness, but they also give you “in-the-moment happiness.” While some believe that they can gain a sense of happiness with “comfort foods,” this study compared the mood of participants who ate healthier foods, such as vegetables and fruits, to others who consumed sweets, pastries and salty foods. The study found that “the induced eating happiness of sweets did not differ on average from ‘healthy’ food choices.” In other words: healthy choices are happy choices!
If you don’t know how to cook, now is the perfect time to learn! It’s as easy as Googling a recipe and following the directions. And for those of you who don’t like to follow directions, then just have some fun with it! Add in more of one ingredient, less of another, etc. It’s your time to experiment and get creative! Or if it’s the grocery stores you’re worried about, there are plenty of online options! There are an overwhelming amount of apps and online resources that offer fresh groceries delivered straight to your door.
Finally, don’t know what’s healthy and what’s not? We can help with that too! You know those live-streaming Facebook classes I mentioned earlier? Well, Beach Fitness is also offering a live-streaming talk on nutrition every Saturday at 10am. Join us for healthy tips & tricks to keep you happy as possible during these uncertain times.
One of the most common reasons why people practice meditation is to reduce stress and anxiety; and this study proves that to be exactly true, with evidence that mindfulness meditation improved participants anxiety, depression and stress after 8 weeks of regular practice. And there is a reason why we say “practice” meditation. You will often not get the results you might be hoping for after one or two meditations. It takes time and practice to get to that point. And with the amount of stress we are all going through right now, I can’t imagine a better time for anyone to start practicing! Instead of spending your mornings stressing about the virus or wondering how you will fill your day, start it off right with a peaceful meditation. Even if you start with only 1-2 minutes of meditation per day, that is still practicing! It can be as simple as when you first wake up, before getting out of bed, spend 2 minutes laying in bed meditating. Or you can join our Facebook group! Another service offered is weekly meditations on Sunday mornings at 9am, where you can tune in for a lovely sound bath and guided meditation. Overtime, you will feel the benefits of your practice. And if you’re still not convinced, check out this blog for even more reasons to meditate.
One of the biggest complaints we often hear about staying home is being bored, which has always seemed silly to me. I could list off a thousand things to do at home! And while I won’t bore you with that long of a list, I will give you quite a few ideas. Other than what I have already listed above, try at least a few of the following:
- Puzzles – This could be an actual piece puzzle that you put together, a number puzzle like Sudoku or a word puzzle, such as a Crossword.
- Get crafty – If you have kids, Google different craft ideas you can do with them at home. If you don’t have kids, Google ideas anyways! Have fun with kids crafts or find something more your level. You can even craft together face masks and face shields and donate them to hospitals in need!
- Game night – Dust off some old board games or get creative and make up your own fun game! Live alone? Virtual game nights through video chats is a great option!
- Study – Is there something you’ve always been interested in learning more about but didn’t have the time? Now is that time! You can learn anything you want on the internet!
- Learn a new skill – This article lists many benefits of learning a new skill, one of them being that it fights boredom!
- Grow a garden – Another great option for cooking healthy meals plus it will make your yard so pretty!
- Connect with friends and family virtually – As I’ve already mentioned, the internet gives us endless opportunities. One of which is still being able to see those that we miss and love.
- Clean – Deep clean, reorganize, get rid of hoarded items. You’ll feel so good after you’ve done it!
- Enjoy “me time” – Take a bath, do a facemask, watch your favorite TV show and just breathe. It is absolutely more than okay to take time for yourself and relax.
- Make a list – Make a daily list of everything you’d like to get done each day. It’s okay if you don’t finish everything on the list – in fact, it would be a good thing! The purpose is to just make sure you are staying busy enough, so if you don’t finish it all, you must’ve been very busy 😉
A common thing I’ve been seeing during quarantine is A LOT of day drinking. While alcohol can make us feel good and happy in the moment, in reality, it is a depressant and it dehydrates our body. Many people are aware that dehydration is not good for physical health, but did you know it can affect our mental health as well? Solara Mental Health describes water as a nutrient for your brain, and without it, you may exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety. The article explains that dehydration can sap your brain’s energy, impede your brain’s serotonin production and increase stress in your body. Not only that but, “When dehydrated, you expose yourself to many of the symptoms that trigger panic attacks, such as: increased heart rate, headaches, muscle fatigue and weakness, feeling faint/lightheaded.”
With that being said, I beg you all to drink lots and lots of water while stuck at home – not alcohol! It may seem like a fun thing to do when you’re bored, but clearly it is not worth it. Plus, now you have a great list of ways to stay busy while you’re bored. So next time you are craving a drink, just grab some water and do a puzzle!
If there is anything that the entire world can agree on, it’s that pandemics are scary and upsetting. And while it is good to stay informed on the facts and how to stay safe, too much exposure to the news can leave you often feeling even more afraid than safe. If you are staying home and taking care of yourself, then there is no need to panic and watching the news may cause unnecessary panic, so try avoiding it as much as possible. If you want to keep updated on anything new, that is totally understandable, but do your best to set limits. Try tuning in only every few days, rather than everyday. Or if you’re at every few days now, try once a week. And remember, there is more going on than this Pandemic. If you want to stay informed on other world events, visit the Washington Post or even do your own research!
Not only should we be limiting news media, but social media as well. Another side effect of boredom is too often clicking through all of our social media apps over and over again. There are a growing number of studies linking the use of social media to mental health, all of which conclude that less use of social media is associated with better mental health. Whether you are a “scroller” (looking at others’ content) or a “poster” (posting your own content), you need to cut back on the media and take this time to focus on YOU. There is absolutely no need to be wondering what everyone else in the world is doing or posting and there is also no need to seek validation (“likes”) from others. Focus on YOUR health, YOUR happiness, YOUR well-being.
Find the Positives
As we already know, it is so easy to pick out all of the things going wrong right now. Which is why it is even more important to remind yourself of all the things that are going right, even if they are small wins. Maybe you finally found the time to clean out your garage or you have more time to spend with your family. Perhaps you’re working out more and getting that summer body you wanted or you nailed that yoga pose you’ve been working on. Maybe you’re simply getting more time to slow down, relax and breathe. Whatever it may be, take the time to indulge in that happiness.
In addition to your own personal wins, there are many things to be grateful for around the world. You probably already know that there has been a drastic decrease in air pollution, more and more animals have been free to roam their natural habitats, more and more people are fostering animals and some countries have even put a ban on wildlife trade and consumption! Still not enough for you? Seattle PI lists plenty more good pieces of news related to the coronavirus.
A huge key to happiness is remembering all that you are grateful for, rather than dwelling in the negatives. And while it is absolutely understandable to feel some negativity during such an extreme situation that we are in, do your best to remind yourself that even though this is hard, you have done hard things before and we will all make it through this. Try to take time out of your day, every single day, and write a list of what you are thankful for and all of the good things happening in your life, your loved ones’ lives and the world around you. You may be surprised by how many good things you think of!
Many of these activities may seem quite obvious, and yet, so many people seem to forget that such simple things can keep you happy and healthy. In fact, these are all things that we should really be doing even when we are not quarantined. But right now, it is more important than ever, not only for our physical health, but for peace and clarity of the mind. Use this lockdown to your advantage. Build these habits for yourself so that you may continue a happy and healthy lifestyle well into your future.