A Guide to a Healthy Happy "At Home"
Written by Lydia Moore, BCBSMS Wellnes Coach & Certified Personal Trainer
It is safe to say that we are living in uncertain times. You can’t turn on the TV or log on to your favorite social media platform without being bombarded by updates on social distancing and the closing of schools and businesses. We are experiencing anxiety and fear that most of us have never faced in our lifetime. Thanks to COVID-19 many of us are now confined to our homes, learning how to be school teachers and trying to make sure we have enough toilet paper.
In the midst of all this craziness and uncertainty, I want to encourage you to focus on the things we do have control over. We may be stuck at home, but we can still make healthy choices. We can also have fun while doing it.
There are three essentials to having a healthy, happy “at home“:
- Eat Healthy
- Keep Moving
Most of us are stocking up on canned goods and non-perishables. These are great to keep on hand in case it will be a while before you can make it to the grocery store. However, many of the foods that have an extended shelf life are extremely high in sodium and preservatives. When selecting your “at home“ groceries go for the foods that have less preservatives and the most nutritional value. Check out my quarantine grocery list essentials:
- Frozen Vegetables – If you have a freezer fill it with unseasoned frozen vegetables. They will last a long time, and if they are unseasoned they have no preservatives. You can add your own seasoning and have a healthy side dish in a matter of minutes.
- Frozen Fruit – Who doesn’t love a fruit smoothie? Frozen fruit is a great way to make a healthy, delicious smoothie that is grown-up and kid approved.
- Frozen Protein – You can buy lean chicken and 90/10 beef and freeze it. Chicken will last for up to 9 months, ground beef for up to 4 months. Another great source of healthy protein is fish. Most grocery stores have frozen wild-caught salmon, tuna and other healthy fish.
- Canned Vegetables – Go for the vegetables that say “no salt added” or “low sodium”. I like to rinse my canned veggies before cooking them as well. My favorites are green beans, corn, carrots, and black beans. I definitely recommend stocking up on any type of canned bean. Who needs meat when you can get all that protein and fiber from a plant source?
- Peanut Butter – This is a pantry staple at my house. It is delicious, has an extremely long shelf life and is packed with plant protein and good fat. Keep in mind peanut butter is high in calories, so watch those serving sizes.
During this time it is very important to stay informed and aware of the ever evolving coronavirus pandemic. However, too much information can lead to more anxiety and stress. I recommend having a set time every morning and evening to check updates and new announcements related to COVID-19. After that 15-30 minute window, turn off the TV and stop checking the internet. Focus on fun, positive activities.
- Home Project - Now that you are at home, you might have time to tackle that project you have had to put off. Completing a project and having that sense of accomplishment boosts self-confidence and mood.
- Go Outside – There is an extensive amount of scientific research proving that spending time outdoors increases happiness and creates a sense of calm. While you are home go for a walk, play outside with your kids, read a book on the porch.
- Take time for yourself – Look at your time “at home“ as a rare opportunity to spend time in quiet reflection. If you are home with your kids and family, make a point to schedule time each day to spend time alone and do something you enjoy.
- Create a Schedule or Not – Depending on your “at home“ situation, a schedule can be great to alleviate any unnecessary stress. If you have turned into a homeschool teacher, a schedule can be crucial in helping you to get things done and to feel in control. If you are home alone or just with a partner/spouse, you might enjoy the freedom of not having a schedule. Use this time to relax and do the things around your home that you normally don’t get to do.
- Engage in Physical Activity – Did you know exercise has a direct impact on you mental health? In fact, more and more mental health professionals are prescribing exercise to their patients suffering from anxiety and depression. Research shows that both the physical and psychological benefits of exercise can help improve mood and reduce anxiety. During this time of “at home“ we need these benefits more than ever, which brings us to our third healthy “at home“ essential.
Most all of us know or have heard the benefits of regular exercise. We know that if we want to lose weight, get stronger, improve our blood pressure, etc., we need to exercise. However, there are dozens of reasons the human body benefits from regular physical activity. Just because we are “at home“ doesn’t mean we need to stop being physically active and stream TV shows all day.
When we engage in exercise our body begins to release hormones called endorphins. Endorphins are known as the “happy hormone”, because they trigger a positive feeling in the brain. Exercise is also an excellent way to take your mind off your everyday concerns and worries. Going for a jog, riding a bike, watching a Zumba class on the internet, are all excellent ways to take time out of your day to focus all the energy you have been putting into your anxiety into something positive. Your entire body will reap the benefits. Working out at home doesn’t have to be complicated. All you need is your body and a little room to move around. I have included one of my favorite at home workouts below. You don’t need any equipment.
Warm-Up: Repeat 3 times
- 30 sec. Jog in Place
- 30 sec. Jumping Jacks
- 30 sec. High Knees
Workout: Repeat 3 – 6 times, depending on your fitness level. Rest 30 seconds to 1 minute between rounds. Modify as needed.
- 10 Push-Ups (modify by putting your knees down or do a wall push-up)
- 10 Squats (if needed use a chair for balance, keep your knees in line with your ankles)
- 10 Tricep Dips (use a chair, step, or the floor)
- 10 per leg Reverse Lunges
- 10 Sit-Ups or Crunches
- 10 per leg step ups (use a step or chair)
Cool-Down: Walk around, let you heart rate come down, then stretch