As I write this blog, I’m hoping you and your families are continuing to stay safe and healthy. I’m thinking of all of our healthcare workers, first responders, retailers and grocers who are putting their health and their families' health at risk for the benefit of others. I’m thankful to everyone who has stepped up big or small to work extra hours so patients have the care and supplies they need, that food and toiletries can be delivered and restocked, those checking in on neighbors and loved ones, and those spreading messages of hope and positivity.
For all of us, the past few weeks have brought with it a rollercoaster of emotions that range from uncertainty, anxiety, and stress to feelings of hope and gratitude. It’s never easy to find the positivity in a negative situation, but there will be a silver lining and we will all come out of this stronger than when we began.
As we learn how to navigate and find our new normal we thought we’d give some tips on how to boost your mood while being home.
Create a Routine: If you’ve been winging the first few weeks of being home, it’s time to create a routine. Having a routine can help minimize stress and reduce anxiety. This could be as simple as getting up, showering, and being dressed by a certain time each day or making sure you get out for walks and exercise regularly. Create a checklist of things you want to accomplish whether it’s doing a webinar, e-mails and work tasks, having a few planned activities for your kids/grand kids or planning out your meals for the week. Having some semblance of routine will make you feel in control and accomplished while helping everyone in the house know what to expect day to day.
Exercise: The mood lifting properties of exercise are well known. Exercise increases serotonin which helps regulate mood, sleep and appetite along with endorphins which are mood lifters too. For those who rely on the gym or doing classes each week not having access to workouts can be a big hit both hormonally and socially. The good news is many gyms have taken their classes online allowing you to see not only the instructor but other people working out just as hard as you. Find other ways to get your exercise in whether its daily walks around the neighborhood or creating a gym using household items (cans, chairs, towels), or maybe a challenge with friends and family for who takes the most steps each day.
Reduce Stress: Let's face it, all of us have seen our stress levels rise over the past few weeks with the events in the world, the uncertainty of our finances, trying to figure out how to care for loved ones, keeping our immunity high, or taking on new roles of being teachers while working full-time. Stress can fuel symptoms of anxiety, sadness, frustration and depression while wreaking havoc on our health by producing the hormone cortisol. Try and find a way to combat stress each day by carving out some “me time” to exercise, meditate, pray, or anything that helps bring you a sense of calm.
Avoid Sugar Highs: One of the things with a change in routine is a change in our eating habits. If you’ve found yourself going for simple carbs and sweets now that you’re home, find ways to curb this habit. Eating sugar and carbs can lead to blood sugar fluctuations which can give us an initial high but then leave us tired, fatigued, and moody. Try and make sure each meal and snack has a combination of lean protein, healthy carbs and a small amount of heart-healthy fat. This will help to keep you full, stabilize blood sugar levels, and keep your mood in check.
Take Your Omega-3s: Omega-3s are known for their mood lifting benefits and for boosting immunity through their anti-inflammatory properties. Most of us don’t know that our bodies can’t make omega-3s so we have to get them through our diet and supplementation.
Stay Hydrated: If your caffeine consumption or even your alcohol indulgence has gone up slightly in the past few weeks there’s a good chance your hydration status has taken a hit with it. Make sure you are keeping yourself fully hydrated. Even a slight decrease in our hydration status can make us moody, unable to concentrate along with bringing on headaches and fatigue. Do what you can to keep caffeine and alcohol to a minimum while boosting your intake of water and hydrating foods like fruits and vegetables.
Practice Self-Care: Being in good health right now is more critical than ever for both mood and immunity. One of the downsides of our fast-paced lives is that we tend to push ourselves and our health to the back burner. Use this time as an opportunity to focus on you. Get that extra sleep each night instead of staying up late watching shows, reacclimate yourself with the Zone Diet or portion control or start being consistent with your health whether its diet, exercise or self-care.
Find a Hobby: For better or worse this is a great time to find a hobby whether its learning how to cook, starting a garden, finishing those DIY projects, or finally creating photobooks of your family. Having a hobby can take your mind off things and has been shown to decrease stress and depression.
Stay Positive: Social media can be both positive or negative. It’s a great way to stay connected with friends and family but can also makes us feel helpless if it promotes feelings of being alone, comparing ourselves to others, or despair at what is going on in the world around us. Find the balance of what works for you.
Stay Connected to Friends and Family: Feeling disconnected with family and friends can take a toll on our mood. Stay connected while being socially distant whether its Facetime, Zoom events, writing letters or picking up the phone and checking in on loved ones. This is especially important for those living alone