5 Actions You Can Take to Keep Yourself Healthy in Tough Times

Let’s be honest, a pandemic wasn’t something we were planning on. No one had that on the 2020 version of Bingo. But here we are. Personal opinions and politics aside, the reality is that this thing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. With numbers spiking rapidly, and higher than before, many cities and states are asking people to again stay at home as much as possible. Remember how much fun that was the first time around?

I’ve heard over and over from people how this shut down, quarantine, or whatever you want to call it, has negatively impacted them. How they’ve been struggling to take care of themselves, feel like the day is one big blur of time, and how they just don’t feel that great.

I get it. I’ve been struggling with all of that myself. However, I have been taking specific actions (most of the time) that have really helped me feel better, both physically and mentally.

The good news? These are all pretty simple, and won’t take up a bunch of time in your day. The bad news? You have to actually do them for them to work.

So, in no particular order, here are 5 actions you can take today to hopefully help you feel a little less aimless, a little less listless, and a whole lot better.

Here we go!

Move

It should come as no surprise that moving your body is on this list. I am a personal trainer, after all. And I have been known to extol the benefits that movement and exercise have on your body and mind.

Movement does a couple of things for you. First, it gets your body tissues contracting, stretching, and working like they are intended to. Your body and brain really like when you do this. So much so, that your brain releases chemicals (endorphins) that help make you feel better, reduce pain, and improve your mood. I don’t know about you, but feeling better and an improved mood sounds pretty good to me. Especially now.

Second, if you should choose to, being active outside gets some sun on your face and gives you a break from being cooped up in your home. This has consistently provided a much needed change of scenery for me.

Ideas for movement:

-Workout (with weights or body weight)

-Play tag with your kids

-Go for a bike ride

-Go for a walk after dinner

-Do some mobility work while watching TV in the evening

-Walk or jog up the stairs in your home or apartment complex

This is by no means a definitive list. Get creative, and get moving!

Drink (Water)

Nothing shocking with this one either. But despite how expected this action may be, there’s still a good chance that you’re not drinking enough water. One study estimates that roughly 75% of the population is chronically dehydrated. That’s like, you know, a lot and stuff.

Not only does dehydration negatively impact basic functions of your body, but it can also contribute to fatigue, irritability, and anxiety. I don’t know about you but I don’t need more fatigue, irritability, or anxiety in my life.

So, how much water should you drink? More than you currently are is a really good place to start.

Practice Gratitude

A few weeks ago I launched a podcast with my good friend, and registered dietitian, Erin Green. The podcast, Middleish, centers on moderation, and the important role it plays in lifelong, sustainable health.

(If you’re interested in checking it out, you can watch on Youtube here, or simply search “Middleish” on your favorite podcast platform to listen.)

Each episode, we wrap up with a segment called “Meaning in the mundane.” This is where Erin and I both share a seemingly insignificant moment from the past week, that caught our attention as significant, or caused us to feel gratitude.

It’s been really interesting to see this develop over the last several weeks. I’ve noticed that the more I look for meaning and for things to be grateful for in seemingly insignificant moments, the more I find them. They are also becoming easier to find without having to be so intentional.

A few examples:

-Listening to my girls giggle as they play together

-Watching ants carry a worm to their hill with my youngest daughter

-Watching my wife walk through the room and being reminded of everything she means to me

These are simple moments that would be very easy to miss. But the fact that I’ve been trying to notice small moments that have great meaning, and cause me to feel gratitude, focuses my attention on them more and more.

And the more I focus on what I have to be grateful for, the less I feel burdened by the current situation.

Engage/Disengage

Wait, both? Yup, both.

Engage:

One of the most common things I’ve heard from people over the last few months is how they feel disconnected, and almost in a haze as they go through their days. I know exactly how that feels, because I’ve been feeling it to.

The best action I’ve found to combat this is to intentionally engage in my surroundings and the moments I’m in. Putting down my phone, and fully investing in playing with my girls; or turning off the TV and completely taking part in a conversation with my wife are a few examples of how I do this.

I’ve noticed that fully engaging in my current situation pulls me out of that haze, and places me right in the middle of the moment I’m currently in.

Disengage:

Disengaging for me has been applied mostly to social media. Aside from the time it takes me to post the things I want, I try to stay off of it as much as possible. It’s proved to be really good for my mental health.

The funny thing about disengaging from pointless distractions, is that it makes it easier to engage in meaningful moments.

I promise.

Create a Schedule

Last, but not least, create a schedule for yourself.

I’ve heard it over and over that people’s days just seem to run together. Is it morning, or afternoon? Is it Tuesday, or Friday?

Sound familiar?

Without a strict start and stop times for work, or without kids in school, many people don’t have clearly defined schedules to their day. This can be nice for a few days, but not for several months. It’s a recipe for both feeling very unproductive, and for having the days go by without any real meaning.

Having a set schedule, has helped me tremendously. A set start time for work. A set end time for work (most of the time). Tackling certain tasks at specific times during the day. Writing out and organizing my tasks for each specific day. All of these, plus more, have been tremendously helpful in giving my days a sense of order, and predictability.

That’s it.

It doesn’t seem like much, but these few, simple actions have had a tremendous impact on my productivity and my mental health over the last few months. I hope they help you as well.

And if you know someone who is struggling right now, please feel free to pass this along.

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