A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post called 6 Activities to Help with Smartphone Overuse. I talked about Smartphone addiction and how being connected to everything 24/7 is taking its toll on our mental health. I encouraged people to look up from their phones and start exploring more practical ways to spend their time.
Little did I know just a couple of weeks later, staying active and finding practical ways to keep ourselves occupied would be so relevant. With people working from home, the government shutting down businesses and people self-isolating, now more than ever, we need to step away from our phones and find ways to look after our mental health.
I work in the fitness industry, so when I closed down the gym Friday night – until who knows when – I came home feeling a little what the fuck? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve often dreamed about leaving my job and having time to do ALL the things – but it was always under very different circumstances.
Adjusting to Life at Home
Whether you’re now working from home, or like me, you work in an industry where your job can’t be done from home – there might be a period of adjustment while you figure out your new normal. Before I started my current job I was self-employed for 7-years, so I’m self-disciplined and suit organising my own time. But for some, it might not be so easy – especially under the circumstances.
Unfortunately, we’re not at home because we want to be. We’re at home because of an extreme situation that we have no control over, and each day brings a new meaning to the word normal.
Here are some things to bear in mind if you’re adjusting to life at home.
Create a Healthy Routine
I say healthy, because looking after ourselves at the moment is important. You can find my recent post about self-care here.
Your routine may vary, depending on whether or not you’re working from home. But, one of the most important things is to create consistency. Have a regular bedtime, set an alarm each morning, eat regular meals and plan out your day. I’m a morning person rather than a night owl, so I go to bed at 10 pm and I get up around 6 am.
I always start my day with some reading or journaling, followed by a workout. It’s been like that for several years. Yours might be similar, or it might start with some meditation, a cup of coffee, or even by checking in with a friend.
Move your body throughout the day. Running, walking (remembering to follow social distancing guidelines), Yoga, HIIT, resistance training – whatever is most appropriate for you. There are many places online to help keep you fit and healthy at this time. Yoga with Adriene, POPSUGAR, Davina McCall, Chloe Madeley, Joe Wicks, Beachbody, Les Mills. The list is pretty much endless. Some resources are free, some you need to pay for, but I guarantee there’s something for everyone – no matter what your budget or fitness level.
If you can, search online for your local area – some studios are now doing online classes – like The Pilates Room in Penwortham. You just need to drop them a message to let them know you’re interested.
Get Some Air
Things are changing daily, so make sure you’re aware of the guidelines.
At the moment, if you follow social distancing guidelines set by the government, you’re still allowed to go outside to exercise – so make the most of it.
During the current chaos, getting fresh air is one of the best things you can do, but it needs to be done safely. If you pass anyone, remember to stay 2 metres apart. If you’re exercising outdoors, only do it with someone you live with.
We need to follow the guidelines and listen to what the government says, so we can continue to go outside.
As a runner, I need to hit the road as regularly as possible. I’m hoping the rules for exercising outside don’t change anytime soon.
It’s tempting to turn to comfort food when you’re at home all day. Everyone is adapting to a new way of living and every day brings a new definition of normal. We all process emotions differently and we all have different coping mechanisms. But eating healthily is important. We need to look after ourselves now more than ever.
Make sure you’re eating wholesome food and including fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet. I realise in some areas, shopping has been a nightmare lately, but fruit and vegetables are the foods we’ve found easiest to get hold of.
Use Your Time Wisely
The situation we’re in is far from ideal. But if you’re fit and healthy and not currently working – you’ve been given the gift of time. How you decide to use that time, is up to you.
Do you have a stack of books you’ve been wanting to read? Have you been waiting for the right time to start writing a novel? Is there a home study course you’ve been putting off? Have you been meaning to sort out the loft?
It might be that you need to slow down. Although the circumstances aren’t ideal – this is your time to take some time out. If work has been stressful and you’ve been feeling burned out, listen to your body; rest and find a slower pace of life.
We’re partway through renovating our house, but last year it all became too much. Work, college, visiting family and friends, daily household chores – everything was adding up. The anxiety of trying to fit everything in was too much. Something had to give, so we decided to take a break from it all. For me, I can keep myself busy by starting work on the house again, doing all the things I’ve been putting off.
I’m also at college training to become a counsellor. I’m coming towards the end of my Level 2 Counselling Skills course, so I have plenty of work to do, to pass my course. I have an amazingly supportive group and we’re in contact daily, helping each other through this chaos. Along with college work, we share the positive ways we’re keeping busy at home.
I’m using this time to check in with all my unfinished projects too and plan for the future. I have no idea what the long-term future holds. Fuck, I don’t even know what next week will hold. But I’m using this time to slow down and re-evaluate things.
Limit Your Time on Social Media and News Sites
I don’t watch the news or read newspapers. I stopped years ago because I realised it wasn’t good for my mental health. I don’t see the point in getting anxious over things I have no control over. I still get the highlights from my husband and hear the occasional thing on the radio, but I rarely seek it out.
You need to be aware of what’s going on at the moment, but limit your time reading about it to protect your mental health. Get the headlines, keep up to date with any new guidelines then and move on. At the moment, I’m relying on my husband to filter information down to me.
It’s the same with social media. Limit your time and try not spiral. This isn’t just specific to what’s going on with the current Coronavirus pandemic. Social media can be a wonderful thing. We can share positive stories and connect with people we might not normally connect with. But it can also be an unhappy place, that causes a downward spiral of negative thoughts.
I feel very strongly about getting dressed during the day.
Whether you’re working from home or you’re getting used to not working at all, get showered and dressed.
When I hear people brag about working from home in their pjyamas – I cringe. I can’t think of anything more demotivating or slovenly than sitting in pyjamas all day. They’re meant for sleeping in, not wearing around the house during the day. Getting dressed also sends a signal to your brain that you’re ready to start your day – no matter what that entails.
Realise Each Day Will Bring New Feelings
The way things are at the moment, each day brings a new meaning to the word normal. On Saturday, I felt calm. In my Instagram post on Saturday, I wrote the following:
“After a broken night’s sleep, I started to put things into perspective. I still have a job and a regular wage coming in. For that, I am extremely grateful.
Like many people, I struggle to fit everything in. Work, college, family, friends, daily household chores – it all adds up. I either end up feeling frustrated when I don’t get everything done, or I’m left feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
The circumstances aren’t ideal, but I realise I’ve been given the gift of time. Today, I feel like someone’s hit the reset button, forcing me to slow down. Tomorrow, I may feel something different.”
For the most part, I still feel that way. Occasionally, anxiety starts to creep in but I’m trying to find the positives in each day. I’m taking everything one day at a time but making the most of every moment.
Tell me, how are you dealing with Coronavirus pandemic? What’s your situation and how are you spending your time? Are you managing to stay active?