Healthy Habits During Social Distancing
Before you go full hibernation mode, let's think ahead a bit.
You're home from work.
Your family is home from school.
All after-school activities are canceled.
Everyone is sitting around, staring at each other.
Might as well make some brownies? Well, yes. And also, NO.
It is an uncertain time, for sure. For those of us in the NYC area, school closures and "social distancing" practices are just beginning. In addition to many of us shifting to a work-from-home model, we are also faced with having school-aged children home 24/7, and the responsibility for overseeing any online instruction. Without denying the gravity of this pandemic - and with full support for social distancing - we can still admit that being our kids' social coordinators, and having no social interaction ourselves, isn't going to be all fun and games.
Arrrgh. What to do... what to do???
While we wait, it's easy to adopt the "Hell in a Handbasket" mindset and eat whatever we can get our hands on. This is easy to do with a stockpile of Girl Scout Cookies, frozen pizzas, Easter candy, boxed brownie mix, and the like. Yesterday, I stress ate two mini Twix bars and two cookies... items I had stashed away in the pantry in the event my kids need treats while we were stuck at home. Apart from the fact that I am gluten-intolerant and Twix are not GF, the slackening of the reins "just because" set off a message in my head. It said, "Do not let this mindless snacking become habit while you are home, or you will not be happy in a few weeks."
Here's the thing. Brownies are awesome, but you do not want to start hibernating, stress eating or straying from the most doable version of your nutritional plan. Based on the statistics we have been told, for most people, this virus - even if they do get sick - will pass and they will recover. You will have to put on regular clothes again and go out in public. Weather will be warmer, so think about what is upon us: showing bare skin.
Imagine how you will feel in a few weeks or a month, physically and mentally, if you abandon healthy habits now. (For any doomsday-ers, let's hope for the best and assume we will all be here in a month.)
What experts recommend in times of uncertainty is creating routine. Routine helps us stay sane, feel safe, and also keeps us on the straight and narrow.
Since our expertise in routine at Eighty extends only to functional food, lifestyle and wellness, here is what we suggest. To the best of your ability, create a routine or daily schedule for your time at home. If you are working from home, you likely have a calendar with business to-dos, anyway. Depending on what your family structure looks like, this might involve getting everyone up at a set time, making a meal, doing some family physical activity, and doing school/adult work.
This routine should include:
1. EXERCISE. Carve out time in that schedule for physical activity. Exercise boosts your immune system and your mood. Check in with your favorite fitness studios to see if they are developing live streams. Fitness studio owners will be feeling the strain of this isolation very much, so virtually supporting your favorite studio is a good idea. If your studio does not stream workouts, consider purchasing a subscription to streaming videos from BeachBody Workouts On Demand or Peloton. [Peloton offers virtual classes for running, strength training, yoga, meditation, not just spin. You do not need to be a Peloton biker to subscribe to the app; there are plenty of non-spin classes available.]
Also, Remember that keeping social distance does not mean you have to stay INSIDE to exercise. You can walk, run, hike, bike, run on the beach, shoot baskets with your kids, etc. Take your dog for the walk of his dreams. You pick... just do it. P.S. Studies show that people exercise 30% longer when listening to music or a good book.
2. MEALS. Do not let yourself slip into the black hole of only making pasta, nuggets and frozen pizzas if you can help it, and do not under any circumstances eat your kids' leftover crusts and consider them meals. Sure, frozen foods will be a part of every parent's life in some capacity as we make multiple meals a day, but aim to only have a frozen or packaged meal once a day, if you can help it. Assess what you have in your house, what is available to purchase (online delivery or in stores), and what you're going to make. It's likely you have fresh, frozen and canned items to use, and there will be time for dinner each night as there will be no driving to and from events. Think about getting vegetables and fruits in to your diet every day, if they are available to you. Rotate the fresh, frozen and canned, so you are getting some of each. If you need ideas, send us a message on Facebook or IG @eateighty.
3. SNACKING. It's not wrong to want a snack. After all, humans should eat balanced meals/snacks every 3.5 - 4 hours while awake, unless fasting. To prevent over-snacking or eating when you're bored or frustrated, decide when snack time will be and what you'll have. If you stress-eat by nature, ask yourself, "Am I really hungry?" before you take that bite. Chances are that you're not.
4. SWEETS / BAKING. Baking is such a unifying family activity with a reward at the end, but no adult needs to eat baked goods every afternoon or evening. Movie night always implies brownies in our house, and there is no such thing as a "leftover" baked good. If movie night happens EVERY night, how many brownies will we eat? This is fact: when there are baked goods and people are all hanging around, they will pick at them until they are gone. If your family usually has dessert 1-2 nights a week, stick with those nights. If you indulge an extra night just because, then enjoy it, but cap it at one treat and move on.
5. SELF-CARE. This is a big one for parents who will not be able to escape their kids! Apart from the obvious, like showering and brushing your teeth, use your regularly scheduled self-care time to learn to do it at home. With no after-school activities, you will have more time to fill. Google home spa treatments and soak your feet with your kids. Paint your nails. Give yourself a steam shower, a mini facial using all the cosmetic products you have impulse bought, and rest for 15 minutes flat on your back with some zen music and your heating pad. Remember that a calm parent promotes a calm household, and we all need as much calm as we can get right now.
6. SLEEP. Prioritize sleep now, especially if you are used to getting up very early in the morning to commute to work and can catch a few extra hours. The average American gets less than the recommended seven hours minimum, and sleep is the time when our body heals, repairs and restores. If you're looking for any one way to "boost" your immune system during this time, sleep is it. If you are feeling at all under the weather, get to bed earlier, and don't be afraid to take naps.
What do you think? What will your routine look like? We'll keep you posted on ours!