Whether you are practicing social distancing, working from home, or being the primary caregiver for your children or parents during this uncertain time, it’s important to consider your day-to-day schedule and how it can affect your health.
Many of us are used to waking up to alarm clocks and a daily commute to the office. Maybe you wake up to go to the gym before heading to work. All of these things are on hold at the moment, so perhaps you’re sleeping in a little. If you have school-age children, you’re not having to wake up to get them ready and sent off to school. These are all major interruptions to our daily lives and take a toll on our minds and bodies, affecting our stress levels and our circadian rhythm.
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) describes circadian rhythms as “physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. They respond primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment. Sleeping at night and being awake during the day is an example of a light-related circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are found in most living things, including animals, plants, and many tiny microbes. The study of circadian rhythms is called chronobiology.”
Changes and/or disruptions in our circadian rhythm can mean big changes for us. According to the NIGMS, “Circadian rhythms can influence sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, eating habits and digestion, body temperature, and other important bodily functions. Biological clocks that run fast or slow can result in disrupted or abnormal circadian rhythms. Irregular rhythms have been linked to various chronic health conditions, such as sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.”
All the recent changes mentioned above can make us feel out of sorts and lose a sense of routine. Getting back into a routine and schedule is vital in getting through these next weeks. Here are some ideas for creating normalcy for yourself and family during these unprecedented times:
If working from home, stick to your regular schedule.
Get up each morning, get dressed, and eat a nutritious breakfast. Staying in pajamas when you’re telecommunicating (especially if you’re not taking video calls!) is easy but can get you into a rut quickly.
Meal Plan & Avoid those Frozen Dinners
If you have visited grocery stores the last week or so, you’ve probably noticed the empty shelves and lack of food and home goods. Many people have stocked up on easy-to-prepare meals which unfortunately typically translates to processed foods like, boxed pasta dishes, frozen foods, etc.
Try to do some research in your neighborhood to learn where you can still buy fresh produce, whole grains and proteins. Plan meals for the week so you’re not scrambling day after day. When we’re busy with work and school, figuring out what to make for lunches and dinner can be overwhelming. Meal planning is always a good idea but is especially helpful during this time when cabin-fever can set in and kids feel stir-crazy. Grabbing the easy thing like microwave corndogs is the fastest thing in the moment. Over time though, it will affect your health and mood. Planning meals and batch cooking can get you out of that funk and focused on preparing healthier meals for your family. Check out Pinterest for easy meal ideas.
While we’re being called to avoid crowds, restaurants and communal areas, you can still go outside for a walk in your neighborhood or activities in your backyard. Make it a point to spend time outside at least 20 minutes a day to clear your mind. Longer if you can make time!
Exercise from the Comforts of Your Home
If you’re used to going to a gym, you’re probably wondering how to get through this time without missing a workout. It’s difficult to get yourself moving if you’re used to exercising outside of your home. You can go out for a run in the neighborhood, jump rope in your yard, or look for workouts on Youtube. Many trainers offer subscription services on Youtube, from HIIT workouts to cardio and yoga.
A messy, cluttered house can lead to an overwhelmed mind. Clutter and unorganized rooms can just add to our anxiety and stress levels. Everyone in your family being home at once for days can easily lead to disorder! If you have kids at home right now, talk about cleaning up and putting things away. If you find you don’t have a good system for toy storage, now’s a good time to create one. Chore charts are always helpful and especially so right now. Clean up as you go so you’re not left with a messy house at the end of each day.
Your meditation space does not need to be completely silent, but avoid external distractions. Set down your tablet, phones, and turn off any other noisy appliances. Any extra sounds shouldn’t prevent effective meditation. In fact, being aware of these noises without letting them dominate your thoughts is an important component of meditation. Read more tips for meditation you can practice from home. It’s easier than you think!
We hope these ideas help you get through the next weeks. If you have any questions for us please don’t hesitate to contact us.
If you’re a new or existing patient, read how the Coronavirus may affect your visit to our offices. While our offices are closed in the meantime, we are still open for telemedicine appointments and for phone calls should you need to reach us.