Have you been feeling slightly out of wack these past few weeks? Well you’re not alone. Many of us have been distancing ourselves from society for over 2 months now. It’s normal to start to feel your personality and interests slip, and to find yourself falling into bad habits. When asked about how they felt during the pandemic, 26 % of US adults and 38% of Millennials say they’ve been feeling lonely during the covid-19 outbreak. Not to mention that about one-quarter of Americans say their mental health has worsened during the coronavirus outbreak (1). Follow these 6 ways to stay balanced during the time of social distancing to improve your mental clarity and overall life balance.
Total unweighted sample size was 1,249 US adults, including 392 Millennials, 346 Gen X’ers and 412 Baby Boomers. Survey was conducted online between April 20 – 21, 2020. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).
(1) Ballard, Jamie. “Amid COVID-19, Millennials Are (Still) the Loneliest Generation.” YouGov, YouGov, 1 May 2020, today.yougov.com/topics/relationships/articles-reports/2020/05/01/loneliness-mental-health-coronavirus-poll-data.
１. STAY CONNECTED. Just because you are social distancing does not mean you have to isolate yourself from communication! We have so many amazing ways to communicate through technology now, so there is no excuse not to! Use FaceTime, Zoom and other social platforms. Schedule days and times that you and your friends or family can all go on a video call together. Schedule a ‘cooking night’ where you and your friends all chat while you make dinner! Have a happy hour! The possibilities are endless. Just make sure you are staying connected with the people that mean the most to you.
２. GET CREATIVE. When in your life have you ever imagined having this much time on your hands? Many of you are now working from home and have cut out hours of commute time that you would usually be adding into the length of your work day. Many of you have unfortunately lost your jobs or are forced to self quarantine. Try not to look at this as a bad thing…think about all of the projects you can accomplish if you put your mind to it! Use your old commute time to try to learn a new language! Since we really can’t go out and do the things we used to for entertainment (go to the movies/bars/restaurants) try doing these things from home. Having a scheduled movie night with your loved ones where you eat popcorn and watch a new (or old) movie will help guide you to a familiarity that you may be missing. Loved to go to the bars for fun? Set up each different room in your house with a different drink and a different genre of music playing! You and your spouse/roommates can have fun bar crawling to each room. If you have small children, nix the alcohol and use different snacks/juice! The possibilities for creativity are endless.
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３. GET IN SHAPE. Since we are all home for much of our days, there is really no excuse to not exercise. Still working from home? Instead of taking a 10 minute break that you usually would have taken to leave the office, use those 10 minutes to do an ab workout, or a 10 minute jog around the neighborhood. There are thousands of at home Youtube workouts in a variety of different workout genres that you can choose from to help guide you. Now is the time to clean out that basement so you have some space to exercise! Your body and mind will thank you. And make sure you are not sitting on your couch or computer chair all day. Continuous movement is important for our lymphatic system to clear our body of toxins, and helps our circulatory system to function properly. In the great words of Nike, ‘Just Do It’!
４. GET OUTSIDE. Researchers have now quantified the ideal amount of time needed to gain the benefits of the great outdoors…and it is likely less than you think! A study published in The Journal of Scientific Reports in June, 2019, determined that spending at least 120 minutes in nature a week was linked to good self reported health and well being. (1) That’s only 2 hours a week people! Being in nature for 2 hours a week is associated with lower probability of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma hospitalization, mental distress and mortality. So get out in nature! If your parks and beaches are closed, try walking in a new neighborhood.
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５. PICK AND CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES. Spending increased time with loved ones and friends can make the little things that used to bug you now feel 10 times more annoying. Before you yell at your best friend for chewing with her mouth open for the 8th time today, take a step back. Is this something worth arguing about? If things get heated, is there a place for you to get away from the situation, or are you stuck in the same house for the next 2 weeks? If it is something small, try to find a way to handle the situation without fighting. In the instance where the roommate chews with her mouth open; eat in separate rooms, or leave the room when she is snacking. There will be instances where something is really bothering you and you need to confront the perpetrator: try to do so in a calm and gentle manner. If things begin to get too heated, take a break from each other and leave the room to do something else. Showering is a great way to clear your mind. If there is an issue that you and your partner just can’t shake, and you find that you are fighting about it a lot, form a plan to offer a distraction if the subject arises. Try to strategize television shows, activities or house work to distract the two of you from the issue until you are both in the right head space to confront it. If you are experiencing any form of abuse in your home, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
６. SELF CARE SELF CARE SELF CARE. The buzz words of the millennial generation. You see it on the cover of every magazine, self help book and Instagram influencer’s bio. At this point it may go in one ear and out the other…but self care is an extremely important part of living a healthy lifestyle. The part of self care that I find the most important is getting a good morning/evening routine. A morning routine helps us to set a tone for the day and allows us to feel in charge of our schedule. During quarantine it is easy to feel jumbled and lost since the routines that we have set over years and years are now disrupted. Sticking to a morning/night routine, such as washing your face, brushing your teeth, stretching and setting up the coffee maker, will help you to feel more prioritized and productive. Another great practice to add to your self care routine is meditation. A study out of Michigan State University determined that meditating for 20 minutes a day helps to improve attention to task and decreases the amount of mistakes made when performing specific tasks (2). I find the most interesting part of this study is that none of the 212 participants had ever meditated before, demonstrating that anyone can reap the benefits of a daily meditation self care routine. I don’t know about you, but I would love to decrease the amount of mistakes I make in a day!
(1) White, M.P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J. et al. Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. Sci Rep 9, 7730 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44097-3
(2) Lin, Yanli, et al. “On Variation in Mindfulness Training: A Multimodal Study of Brief Open Monitoring Meditation on Error Monitoring.” Brain Sciences, vol. 9, no. 9, 2019, p. 226., doi:10.3390/brainsci9090226.
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Did you like my ‘6 Ways To Stay Balanced During The Time Of Social Distancing’ post? Check out my ‘Stuffed Portobellos with Avocado Shepards Pie” recipe!