With the sweeping social distancing measures put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, chances are you’re reading this from home. For most of us, spending so much time at home has turned our daily routines into an absurdist landscape of virtual meetings, finding creative ways to cheat on our diets, Netflix binges, and trying to figure out how to entertain our kids without self-imploding.
The good news is that social distancing measures seem to be working. The bad news is, we’re going to be here for a while. As we all adjust to this new normal, here are some healthy habits that you can cultivate to keep your life on track while you’re at home.
1. Stick to a schedule
Set up a daily routine that’s as close as you can get to your normal schedule. If you normally wake up and get ready for work at 6 a.m., keep doing that. Stick to your regular work hours, and include time to transition between home and work tasks.
According to Psychology Today, too much screen time can have a negative effect on cognitive functioning. Those of us who are working from home spend most of the day on the computer, only to transfer our attention to our phones or TV. Take a couple of hours each day to intentionally unplug from the internet and reduce your screen time. Use this time to relax and do something you enjoy, like cooking, gardening or reading a good book.
3. Find creative ways to connect
We are social creatures, and total isolation may lead to increased levels of depression. To stay connected from home, try hopping on a video chat with friends, check out a virtual concert, or join a Facebook group that highlights one of your interests. You can also try downloading the Houseparty app and encourage your family and friends to join as well. This app will allow you to see when your friends and family are online so you can pop in at any time.
4. Make dinner a special event
When you’re stuck at home all day, opportunities for entertainment are thin on the ground, and the hours can sometimes start to blur together. To break up the monotony, try turning dinner into a special occasion. Consider taking some of the money you’re saving on not going out to splurge on the fixings for a fancy feast, or let your kids try being chefs for the day and guide them through making a dish or meal. If you're cooking for one, take this time to learn new recipes! While you're cooking, turn on some tunes and listen to your favorite playlist.
5. Try out a new hobby
Have you had your eye on a crafty Pinterest board for a while? Always wanted to try cooking Thai food? Been waiting for time to work on a painting or try your hand at writing a novel? Take some of this extra time off to settle in with a new hobby.
6. Go for a walk
While we are advised during this time to limit travel to essential trips, social distancing guidelines do allow for outdoor exercise—as long as you maintain six feet of distance between people outside of your immediate family. Getting outside for some light physical activity helps to mitigate stress. According to Science Direct, moderate exercise can help boost your immune system and metabolic health.
Sometimes we need to take a break from the seriousness of our situation and just be silly for a while. If you have kids, try dusting off some classic board games, or spend an afternoon making pillow forts and playing make-believe. If you have a pet, order them a new toy online and play with them!
8. Stop Stress-Snacking
In times of stress, many of us turn to food—I know I do! According to the Mayo Clinic, emotional eating is a common response to elevated feelings of stress and boredom. Instead of reaching for the bag of potato chips when these feelings hit, try to be more mindful about why you’re eating and when you do decide you need a snack, stick to healthy foods.
9. Try yoga or meditation
Major life disruptions cause a lot of stress and anxiety, and right now, we are all experiencing major life disruptions. Yoga and meditation are both practices that promote mindfulness. According to Mindful, this is “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. While mindfulness is something we all naturally possess, it’s more readily available to us when we practice on a daily basis.”
10. Give yourself a break
The unprecedented situation we find ourselves in is not easy, and we’re all trying to figure it out as we go. Remember to give yourself a break. You’re doing the best you can, juggling unimaginable stress and uncertainty, and it’s okay to not know what to do every second of the day. All any of us can do right now is to stay positive and try our very best to use this unexpected time at home to rest and recharge.