The last thing anyone wants to hear right now is “Keep Calm And Carry On,” but when faced with an unprecedented situation like this, self-care needs to be a top priority.
But still, there might be some people who don’t like this viewpoint, and that’s ok. I’ve seen many posts saying that wellness people need to stop telling everyone to exercise and eat healthy during this quarantine, while most of us just want to sit on the couch and eat cookies.
Trust me, I don’t disagree about the couch sitting, I’m right there with you- except I’ve got a bowl of salted caramel gelato on my lap.
BUT that doesn’t mean that I’m not moving my body every day and eating healthy when I’m not downing a pint.
I know for my clients and also myself, daily movement is non-negotiable. Honestly, I’ve needed it to get through not only this unprecedented time we’re dealing with but just regular life over the last 25 years.
We talk a lot about balance in yoga, both in physical and mental terms, and right now it might seem like the scales are tipped way out of balance – in a way that doesn’t feel good.
Working from home, anxiety about getting sick, homeschooling kids, losing a job, and let’s not forget the inability to see loved ones who might be suffering.
This is why I don’t just practice physical yoga, because quite frankly, a tight ass isn’t getting me through this tough time, it’s my breathing and meditation practice.
“It’s quite likely that this pandemic will induce a lot of stress and anxiety,” said Brandon Alderman, director of the Exercise Psychophysiology Laboratory at Rutgers University.
So if you find yourself stressed or anxious, or just in a constant state of WTF, I want to help get you through it, so we can get your wellness scale back in balance, sans meltdown status.
Here are my top 5 tips to stay fit – both mentally and physically. Remember to try and create a routine and actually plug time for these into your daily calendar or they might not get done.
1) Start Your Day off With a Gratitude Practice
Before you get out of bed and your feet even hit the floor, remind yourself of one thing that you’re grateful for – the peonies about to bloom outside your window, being surrounded by the ones you love, or that your kids didn’t fight once about the x-box controller yesterday- when you’re grateful for what you have, more positive things come to you.
The WSJ reported that people who are grateful have more energy, are more optimistic, have more social connections and are happier than those who do not. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, or anxious. They sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections – exactly what we all need right now.
2)Exercise by doing yoga at home
The World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both. That’s just about 20 minutes of moderate movement and you can squeeze that in at home, with no special equipment and limited space.
Why do you need to limit your Tiger King binges and move around a little more? One research study found that even one additional hour of sedentary behavior was associated with a decline in immune function. No worries, I’m not saying don’t relax on the couch – have at it, but make sure you’re breaking it up with some movement.
If you’re a morning person, try to work out before you start working or taking care of your kids- research proves that you’re much more likely to do it early than if you wait until after work – when a long conference call, project deadline, or exhaustion get in the way of lacing up your kicks.
People who exercise have healthier immune systems, are more productive, have more energy, are happier, suffer less stress and weigh less. All things that help keep us healthier on many levels.
If you regularly use the “I don’t have time” excuse for not breaking a sweat, but you’re working from home now, then use your commute time as your at-home gym time.
Not sure what to do on our own? You can join me live starting April 6th for 5 days of live workouts to get you motivated.
And remember it doesn’t need to be 20-30 minutes all at once. Sometimes I find myself breaking my exercise into 5-minute blocks throughout the day – pushups and situps in between conference calls, sliding lunges while the pasta is boiling, or even a long walk while chained to the phone on one of those calls.
I purposely created the videos in my Xen Strength Yoga challenge to be different intervals- because I know people don’t always have an hour. But if you have even just 10-20 minutes you can fit that in and feel great about it.
3) Meditate at home
Exercising the mind is just as important as exercising the body. If you don’t already have a meditation practice, then try it out- it’s not about quantity, it’s about consistency- so make it a priority on your daily calendar when you know you’ll have even just 5 minutes. Getting still each morning for just 5 minutes every day is better than 30 minutes once a week.
In a medical study, world-renowned teacher, John Kabat-Zinn concluded that patients who practiced meditation:
- Had improved immune function
- Had accelerated rates of healing
- Were less stressed about obstacles they faced
- Were more present in their day to day activities
I don’t know about you, but all of these reasons were enough for me to start meditating 20 years ago, and I still believe it’s the most important thing I do on a daily basis to keep me from yelling at my kids and getting stressed about things I can’t control.
4) Eat a super-food charged breakfast
You might want to get your morning news in, but don’t eat in front of the TV. It’ll make you eat more since you’re focused on what’s happening on the screen – and moderation and portion control are key when you’re stuck at home around food all day.
So make sure when you treat yourself to some ice cream or your favorite kettle chips, which by all means you should do if you’re feeling it, just make sure you’re being mindful of the serving size.
To boost your energy and focus from the start, try these breakfast options:
Superfoods Smoothie- phytonutrients go right into your bloodstream for a surge of brainpower and energy.
Grapefruit with whole-wheat avocado toast: Grapefruit is high in vitamin C and antioxidants, and avocados are rich in vitamins A, C, and E and contain healthy mono-saturated fats and antioxidants.
Oatmeal with flaxseed, blueberries & almonds: Oatmeal contains many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants-plus protein, complex carbohydrates and iron; the nuts and seeds add Omega 3’s, and the blueberries are an antioxidant powerhouse.
Also, I’m not going to trash your morning coffee, but you should limit it to one cup in the morning, and follow that with green tea during the day if you need an afternoon boost. It can cause anxiety in some people, and that’s the last thing you need more of in your life right now.
5) Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Have you tried sipping chamomile tea, turning off all the screens 30 minutes before bedtime,
and even spraying your pillow with lavender, but still can’t sleep? Yoga can help.
When we don’t get enough sleep, we have less time for our bodies to repair on a cellular level, which leads to disease. According to the sleep docs at the Mayo Clinic, “infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep. So, your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases.”
Lay off the late-night Candy Crush, and instead try this restorative pose with guided breathing to catch a solid eight hours:
Legs up the Wall with Extended Exhale
Sit with your right hip up against the wall or the headboard of your bed, with your hands back behind you for support. Slowly bring your legs up the wall as you lower onto your back with your, hands by your sides. If your hamstrings are tight, your hips might be a few inches away from the wall. Take a deep inhale through the nose, to the count of four, completely inflating the lungs. On the exhale, slow down the breath and empty to a count of eight until the navel contracts back into the spine. Stay here, continuing this breathing pattern, for 5-10 minutes to reduce insomnia and calm the mind.
Think of this pose as a restorative meditation and focus the mind solely on the breath as you
inhale and exhale. Resist any temptation to lie on your back, hold your phone in the air, and scroll through the latest #foodporn and #namaste pictures. Your sleep is more important than your friend’s latest selfie.