"When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening."– Author Unknown.
No one could have predicted a virus originating on the other side of the world could cause this much destruction and devastation in the United States. With businesses and schools closed, we’ve all had major adjustments to our jobs, schedules and home life. Yes, this is a time where we all feel tested, but the good news is that we have the power to take back control over our lives. What better way than to focus your energies on new positive habits that can also save your life? Here are 3 habits you can start today while quarantined.
Habit #1 Be Active
It’s time to get moving for your mood and your body. Exercise is no longer a choice, it’s absolutely necessary in the fight against COVID-19. In fact, the World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus strongly advised, “30 minutes of physical activity a day for adults, and one hour a day for children..” in order to combat the virus if contracted.
Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart, lungs, and regulates blood sugar and insulin levels – all recent precursors to hospital-bound COVID-19 patients. What’s also amazing is one single bout of exercise can result in positive changes in brain chemicals and improved mood by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
You don’t have to be an athlete to start a daily exercise habit. First decide what time of day your schedule will allow 30 minutes of exercise, then commit to it every day. Designate a spot in an open room, garage, or outdoors as your workout space and just move for 30 minutes to fun upbeat music.
If you are having a tough time self-motivating many fitness companies are offering free group exercise classes during the quarantine. The intoxicating group class energy and varied workouts every day may just be what you need to get back on track with your fitness. By using this quarantine time to develop an exercise habit, you will feel better look better and come out of quarantine a stronger version of yourself.
Habit #2 Practice Mindful Eating
During quarantine we are all stuck inside, which makes it even more enticing to emotionally eat with our favorite comfort foods. I mean no one’s going to see us for at least a month or more, so why not? In a Washington Post recent study, “…emotionally eating lots of food with little nutrition can weaken our immune systems and worsen our moods at a time when protecting our bodies and staying positive is particularly important.”
The first step toward a healthy mindful eating habit is setting up an eating schedule with foods you enjoy eating. By pre-planning meals and snacks with your logical mind, you will make healthier immune-boosting food choices when you do go to eat. Start your day with a low sugar breakfast like oatmeal or egg white and veggie omelet and 8oz of water. This simple first intentional step will boost your metabolism and ward off dehydration from the nightly fasting. To best round-out your mindful eating plan, follow breakfast with a mid-morning snack, then lunch, afternoon snack, and finally a lean dinner.
To put your plan into action, set alarms on your phone to remind yourself to eat at your scheduled “feeding” times. It’s imperative you only eat or snack at your scheduled “feeding” times so that mindless or emotional eating habits don’t creep in. Also designating at least one meal prep day each week to assess your meals will keep the boredom away.
Your new mindful eating habit will make your food work for you rather than against you. This is especially important in a time when you need to make quick decisions and adapt elsewhere in your life during quarantine. With more energy and a healthy immune system, mindful eating has never looked so good on you.
Habit #3 Stay Positive
The best chance of making it through the COVID-19 quarantine unscathed is ensuring a positive mindset for your mental and emotional wellbeing. Are you seeing this time as an opportunity to become mentally stronger or are you letting it drown you further into self-pity and hate for your situation? The mindset you choose at this very moment is crucial to the next steps you take (or don’t take) that could have long-lasting effects on your life.
The first and easiest thing you can start doing is limiting your intake of coronavirus news. Experts point out there is a fine line of being informed rather than consumed with coronavirus media coverage when it comes to your mental health. In the clearest terms, worry never solved anything for anyone.
What you can do for a positive mindset is serotonin-boosting hobbies like outdoor activities, listening to your favorite music or podcast, journaling, meditating, or crafting. If that doesn’t work, don’t discredit the power of reaching out to family and friends for a quick chat. They are most likely feeling the same worrisome feelings and together you can support each other and make fun plans for the future.
Another very important thing you can do for a positive mindset during quarantine is searching out something new you have always wanted to do but didn’t have the time. Colleges and private companies are offering free classes that could have a major impact on your life - even after quarantine. You can develop a new skill to finally leave your job you’ve hated for years. You can take a business course to launch a new side hustle that brings purpose, joy, and additional income into your life. You can learn a new language and plan a future trip for yourself or with friends to show off your new language skills. By opening your mind to the endless possibilities at your disposal, you can come out of quarantine with power and options.
In summary, use this time in quarantine to be better for yourself – with your habits, education, job, fitness, relationships - wherever you can have the most impact in your life. Now is the time to rise up and put into practice your creativity, resiliency, and compassion toward your fellow man. Isn’t it better to look around at the controllable so we can thrive rather than just survive quarantine? New positive habits can create the spark you are craving right now. A new focus that even for a second creates intentionality and purpose in your day. Don’t you owe it to yourself to try?