By Karen Eisenbraun, CHNC
The coronavirus pandemic has upended our lives in ways that most people wouldn’t have imagined just a few weeks ago. Many of us are finding ourselves stuck at home for the foreseeable future — whether under quarantine or shelter in place order.
While it may be tempting to abandon all of your good habits until you’re able to leave the house again, maintaining a healthy routine can help bring a sense of normalcy to these uncertain times. And, many of the same habits that support your weight and overall health can also help strengthen your immune system and alleviate stress and anxiety.
Follow these tips to keep your weight and your health goals on track during a quarantine.
It’s OK if your new routine doesn’t look at all like your old routine. The important thing is to develop a somewhat consistent schedule in order to foster a sense of normalcy even while you’re stuck at home.
Try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule and get up at the same time every day. Don’t stay up too late or sleep too much.
If you’re working from home, designate set work hours and stick to them as much as possible. It’s easy to allow work to overflow into non-work hours, and before you know it, spend all your time in front of the computer, either at your desk or on the couch.
Speaking of sitting all day, that much sedentary time can be detrimental to your waist and your overall health. Even if you get in some exercise later, sedentary behavior is linked to obesity. One study found that obese individuals spent, on average, two more hours sitting than lean individuals.
If you’re working from home, create a workspace that allows you to stand for at least part of the day. Work at the kitchen countertop or convert your desk into a standing desk with a laptop stand.
It can be difficult to work exercise into your day if you’re used to working out at the gym. How do you stick to an exercise routine when you don’t have weights, a treadmill, or a stationary bike?
Be willing to change up your routine a little. There are plenty of things you can do from home that are still beneficial. The important thing is to move your body.
Have you been wanting to try yoga? Now is the perfect time. Find some beginner yoga videos on YouTube. Yoga can help relieve stress and anxiety, promote better sleep, improve flexibility, increase strength, and promote healthy eating habits that aid in weight loss.
You can also do body weight exercises, such as push-ups, squats, lunges, and planks. If you have small hand weights, hold a weight in each hand while you do walking lunges.
Getting your daily 10,000 steps may also be a challenge during this time, but it’s not impossible. If you’re working or binge-watching your favorite shows, set an alarm to get up and walk around the house at least once an hour. And you can still go for a walk or a run outside — just stay at least six feet away from others. If the sun is out, you’ll get the added bonus of getting some vitamin D, which helps fight respiratory infections.
When you’re stressed and stuck at home, it’s easy to lose track of what you’re eating. Avoid falling into the habit of eating whatever you want, whenever you want. Plan and prepare meals just like you normally would.
Get a handle on snacking by storing surplus food out of sight. If you have cookies, candy, and potato chips sitting out on the counter, it’s all too easy to grab some every time you walk by. When you do snack, put a single portion into a bowl instead of sitting down with the entire bag.
Chronic stress leads to elevated cortisol levels, which can cause weight gain, particularly in the abdominal region. It’s perfectly normal to feel stress, anxiety, and even grief in these uncertain times. Our lives have changed, and even though we know it’s temporary, we don’t know when things will go back to normal.
Make self-care a priority and give yourself some grace if you can’t accomplish everything you want to in a day. Yoga can help with stress, as can meditation. Sit in a quiet space and breathe deeply. If you’re feeling anxious, anchor yourself in the present moment by looking around the room and naming five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can feel, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
Set aside some time every day to engage in an activity that helps relieve stress, whether that’s reading, journaling, or doing something creative.
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Karen Eisenbraun is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She holds an English degree from Knox College and has written extensively about topics related to holistic health, clinical nutrition, and weight management.