Living During COVID
Living in the midst of a pandemic is hard.
This guide may help.
With the way everything is going right now during this COVID-19 pandemic, mental health is on a slow, steady decline for many. Multiple stressors pile up quickly, leaving many overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed. Everyone is affected in different ways, but we can all agree that everyone is affected.
During these times, it can be helpful to go back to basics when facing large amounts of unknowns.
Here are some things that may be helpful to keep in mind and implement as we face these challenges together.
NOTE: I'm thinking of the Southwest Florida area, where I practice, as my inspiration for these elements. Some may not apply as well to those living in other regions.
First Things First: Basic Needs
Food: What do your eating habits look like right now? Many I've talked to find themselves snacking more, eating more sugary foods, relying on take-out more, and are having a difficult time finding some pantry staples at the grocery stores. Consider the following:
Keeping defined mealtimes during the day keeps your body's natural metabolic rhythm and helps you stay on a schedule.
Mitigating snacking as much as possible will help curtail changes in appetite associated with stress; if you do choose to snack, focus on making healthier choices. Fruits are great here (and generally still in stock in the local stores).
Now is a great time to work on your cooking skills in the kitchen. There are plenty of great free tutorials and recipe ideas on Youtube. You can also find recipes based on what you have available to you with an app like Supercook. Cooking from home gives you something to do, lets you try delicious new meals you can add to your entertaining repertoire, and is generally cheaper than eating out.
Avoid snacking or eating bigger meals later in the evening; digesting food while you are trying to fall asleep can keep you up. Also, late night poops.
Tracking your food intake can be really helpful in seeing all kinds of patterns and allows you to make informed choices about your future meals. I really love MyFitnessPal. Also, it's free to use.
Sleep: This is one everyone is struggling with right now. Lack of sleep contributes to all sorts of different issues (appetite, mood swings, focus, etc.) and getting this managed better can help improve everything else. Try some of these tips to see if you're catching more zzz's at night:
Sleep schedule is numero uno in importance: you want to aim for a general bedtime and a general wake-up time. When starting out, try and keep it consistent across all seven days. You can begin to make changes as needed once you get it under your belt.
You will want to refrain from any caffeinated drinks after about 7pm, assuming an average bedtime of 10-11pm. Same with any eating or snacking.
Physical activity during the day can help with feeling more tired at night. Ideally you will want to refrain from excessive physical activity after about 7pm starting out.
Consider your sleeping environment at nighttime: you want to have adequate darkness in the room, room temperature to be lower during the nighttime, lose the phone and computer screens, and think about your sleep wear and sheets. Are all of those factors conducive to a good nights sleep?
Tracking, again, is helpful! Lots of fitness trackers will track sleep for you. A good free one is Sleep as Android.