Friends, these are unprecedented times. These are also stressful times, which can cause us all to neglect our physical, mental and spiritual health. You must not let these deteriorate. It is important for your immunity system that you stay physically, mentally and spiritually healthy. Your health is your wealth. You may have recently lost some money in your retirement funds. Don't lose your health.
Important note: This blog post does not apply to you if you have the coronavirus. You must listen to your doctors and not me. (Though, a few of the tips below around staying mentally or spiritually healthy might still be helpful to you.)
Below are 10 tips to stay physically, mentally and spiritually healthy during a stay-at-home order:
1. Eat Healthy: It is hard to eat healthy in a time of stress and also when it is literally hard to find food at grocery stores. (Interestingly, I have noticed produce sections are generally not depleted when going to grocery stores recently... Tip: buy produce.) We all can have the tendency to eat comfort foods when stressed. Make a commitment to yourself to eat healthy and then take it day by day. Plan out your meals and snacks. Give yourself grace when you eat unhealthy. Just get back on track. Check out a blog post I wrote with a lot of healthy eating tips at this link.
2. Exercise: I realize this one is tough when you are being ordered to stay home. But it is not impossible. You must find away to stay active. Many of us can still go outside for walks or runs, while keeping socially distant from others. Or, if you have a treadmill at home you can use, use it. I encourage you to set a goal of getting 10,000 steps a day. This is good for you physically and mentally. Exercise helps you reduce stress. Additionally, I encourage you to do some sort of strength training at least 3 times a week. You can do many body weight exercises at home. Check out this link for a great list of body weight exercises. Also, YouTube and other websites have a plethora of exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home. Get after it! My daily goal is to run or walk 3 miles a day and do at least 100 push-ups a day. I just read a great article about how 79-year old Dr. Anthony Fauci runs 3.5 miles a day while working 19-hour days to combat the coronavirus, which you can read at this link.
3. Sleep: Sleep is so important for your immunity! Aim to get 7 to 8 hours of solid sleep a night. Also, aim to get at least 90 minutes of deep sleep and 90 minutes of REM sleep. The only way to really know this data is by using a smart watch when you sleep. Check out this blog post I wrote with a lot of great sleep tips at this link.
4. Reduce Stress: It is understandable that we are all probably worrying a lot during this time of coronavirus. Some level of worry is good in that it can drive us to take precautions, such as practice social distancing. The problem is when we over-worry about things we don't have control over. Worry moves into stress and then we're tense and can't relax. Worse, we can't sleep, and our health and immunity starts to deteriorate. So, we need to reduce worry and stress. I recommend you significantly reduce the amount of news you are consuming. Stay up with the latest important news in your community, but don't obsess and read every single article about coronavirus. Also, you may want to reduce your social media usage if it creates stress for you. Lastly, figure out things you can do to reduce stress. Pray, meditate, connect with family and friends, and exercise.
5. Connect: During this time of extreme social distancing, we need to find ways to connect with family and friends. I encourage you to daily email, call, text message, FaceTime and even Zoom video-conference with your friends! Don't let your self get isolated and discouraged. Others that you reach out to will be wanting to connect too! While I cautioned above that social media might cause stress, it also can be a positive way to connect with others. Just make sure you're using social media for connection and not news/media consumption that might stress you out. I really do love Zoom and they have a free plan for up to 100 participants and a 40 minute video-conference, which you can learn about at this link.
6. Give: Now is the time to keep giving to others. Give to your family. Give to your friends. Give to your community. Today, be the encouragement that someone didn't see coming. If you can find ways to volunteer with nonprofits, do that. If you can give financially, now is a great time to support your favorite nonprofits. For those of you in Colorado, you can give both your time and finances at this website link. Also, if you are in Colorado, I invite you to join me in supporting Volunteers of America with your time, treasure and talents at this link. (thank you!)
7. Grow Spiritually: This season can be a season of reflection, if you will let it. Revisit your spiritual traditions. Pray. Or meditate and pursue a mindfulness practice. I personally find peace and strength in the habit of reading the Bible daily, following the one year plan at this link.
8. Read: Now is the time to read the books stacking up on your night shelf. Grow your mind and grow your skills. If you are looking for a good book to read, Atomic Habits by James Clear is a great one!
9. Work: This is a complex point. I realize that some of you reading this might have recently lost a job due to the coronavirus.I encourage you to not give up on work, even if you may not be getting a paycheck currently. Work at finding your next job. Work at growing your skills. Work on projects at home. For those of you still working at a formal job, and perhaps working remotely, continue to work hard for your employer. Don't slack off. Don't pick up bad habits that will be hard to break later. Lastly, some of you may be suddenly working to help educate your children as they are learning remotely. Teaching your children will be a unique new job for you to take on day by day.
10. Remain Hopeful: Don't lose hope. The coronavirus will impact us all in different ways. By now you very likely know someone who has the virus. You may even know someone who has died from it. Despair would be understandable. Somehow, someway, pursue hope. If you find yourself in despair, reach out to someone. Get counseling. Here's a quote I found helpful recently: “Today, the coronavirus has thrown us all in the mud. We are cold, wet and miserable, and the dawn seems a long way off. But while we should not be cavalier about the dangers of this pandemic, neither should we feel hopeless and paralyzed with fear. Hope abounds.” -Ret. Admiral William H. McRaven, Navy SEAL, from an article at this link. Men, if you are feeling down, one great resource to explore is a website called Man Therapy, which I encourage men to spend some time on now at this link. Men and women, if you ever feel like you're even starting to think about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and visit their website at this link.
I hope these 10 tips have been helpful to you. What else would you add to this list? Please share in the comments below.