I’ve seen countless articles in recent days about the importance of social distancing, and the research that supports it is astounding. As a reaction, the professional world has pivoted quickly to allow remote-working options and virtual access to meetings and events. Work-from-home tips and tricks are being shared, and virtual strategies to prevent a disruption to our daily work lives are being deployed left and right.
All of this is great and necessary… but what are we doing to take care of ourselves personally? After all, no matter what location we are working from, we are bringing our whole selves to “work.”
To some it seems like a no-brainer: staying at home, working from the dining room table, and enjoying the “break” we may be experiencing from social obligations is a great option. But to others, social distancing and self-quarantine may bring feelings of isolation and loneliness in a time where stress and anxiety are at an all-time high.
If we set aside the professional in each of us for just a moment, and focus strictly on the human element, we all have basic needs that need to be met. The reality is that meeting those needs within the walls of our homes may seem like an impossible or daunting task. To that end, I’m sharing some ideas and resources that may help combat those feelings of isolation and loneliness for yourself and those in your social circle.
Yoga and meditation are increasingly becoming two popular alternative health approaches in the United States. The benefits may include improvement in a person’s mental well-being, relief of stress and anxiety, focused attention, and mental clarity, to name a few.
The best part about yoga and meditation is that they are free practices that can be easily done in the comfort of your home with next-to-no resources. There are countless free, guided practices on YouTube, and a few apps are offering free-trials during the COVID-19 outbreak, including DownDog, Headspace, and Peloton. I also suggest looking into your local yoga and fitness studios' social media sites, as many have shared downloadable practices for at-home use during this social distancing phase.
It is no secret that regular exercise has countless benefits, including lowering your risk of heart disease, improving your mental health and mood, providing an energy boost…the list goes on and on. But with most fitness centers being closed at this time, we’re forced to think outside of the box (or gym).
Thankfully, exercise does not have to be limited to a gym setting. Free bodyweight-based workouts can be found on YouTube and on-demand from most cable providers; and as mentioned above, Peloton is offering free 90-day trials through their app, which can serve as a great starter program.
Also remember: walking is exercise. This can be in your home on a treadmill, up and down your stairs, or a nearby trail or park. Better yet, can you pop in your headphones and reach out to a friend for a catch-up chat and a walk around the neighborhood? It doesn’t have to be fancy, exercise can be free, using your body weight or items you likely have in your home, and still reap massive benefits for your mental and physical health.
What a great time to break out your favorite recipe book, or find something online, to whip up something new. With most folks working from home and (hopefully) shutting down at a reasonable hour, there is no rush to fight traffic, which means more time to prepare our meals. Try something new or bake a family recipe. Being creative in the kitchen can help boost your mood, and your taste buds will thank you.
If the above isn’t an appealing way to spend your quarantine, how about ordering takeout from a local restaurant? The restaurant and entertainment industries are most certainly taking a hit during this time, but there are still ways to support them without dining in. Order takeout or delivery, or purchase a virtual gift card to your favorite local restaurant or coffee shop. Nourishing your body with a hearty meal, and knowing that you supported a small business at the same time, is sure to put a smile on your face.
On a similar note, continue to shop small when you can. Small businesses are certainly experiencing negative impacts, but can you shop their online stores instead of brick and mortar? How about purchasing a gift card to use as a gift for a friend in the coming months?
Another easy (and free) gesture that goes a long way for small businesses is sharing their social media posts and sales within your network. Small businesses often rely on word-of-mouth marketing and there’s no doubt that positive reviews help sustain their shops during difficult times like these. Sharing the love and spreading positivity is certain to brighten up your day, and someone else’s too.
You know, the old school way! I don’t know about you, but receiving snail mail from a loved one instantly lightens my mood. It doesn’t have to be on fancy stationery; anything will do. Involve the kids and mail colored pictures to family members. This is a low-cost, nearly effortless way to add positivity to our world when it is desperately needed.
While you have your notebook to write letters to friends, don’t forget to take a few minutes each day to write down five things that you are grateful for. It seems that our news stations and social media outlets are often overridden with negativity and it may feel difficult to escape, but taking time to recognize things you are grateful for may help slowly change your mind frame from worrying about the negative to celebrating the positive.
Mother nature is another free resource, available in abundance. Maybe you take this time to begin planning a garden or walking a local trail system. The fresh air combined with the physical exercise can do wonders for your mental well-being including helping you to feel relaxed, being more active, and getting a good dose of Vitamin D. And, if you see a passerby, a wave and a smile go a long way.
After you read this – unplug! Now more than ever it will be hard to separate work from home because most of us are working in our homes. But I urge you to adopt a work-curfew and stick to it. Leave time for adequate sleep, planning and eating healthful meals, and getting time away from our screens. Instead, plan for quality time in front of our family members, or alone with a good book. Being constantly connected to work, social media, or the news may leave you feeling overwhelmed and fatigued. But it can be prevented with a slight shift and intentional scheduling on your daily calendar.
While this list of ideas certainly isn’t exhaustive, I hope this opens your eyes to free and easily available resources that may help you take care of yourself during this trying time. If you are struggling, I urge you to reach out to a friend, family member, or co-worker. Chances are, they will also appreciate the time to connect as we’re all learning to cope with this new way of life. My ultimate hope is that you are able to take care of yourself personally, so that you are able to care for others as well. Even though we’re apart, we're all in this together.
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