As I sit down to write this, while working from home today, it’s hard to think of anything beyond the current circumstances. Collective stress and anxiety levels are high. People are out of work (and worried), going to work (and worried), working from home, self-isolating, social distancing, homeschooling and wondering when this will end. It’s hard to focus on much else including how to deal with isolation.
All people have been urged to stay home as much as possible, more than many are comfortable or happy doing. I am a true introvert, so being home is usually where I want to be. But even for me, there is a constant tension about all the unknown. How in the world do we manage?
How do we stay healthy and (relatively) happy through this unprecedented and trying time?
Practice self-care like never before
What does that look like for you? For me, first and foremost, it means eventually turning off the news. I stay informed of the latest and abreast of the facts, but it is simply unhealthy for me to immerse myself in reporting that leaves me feeling panicked. In its place I turn on music and instantly feel a sense of ease. You might listen to a podcast (maybe not on the coronavirus), pick up an escapist novel or put on a funny show. Whatever you choose, it’s about turning your mind to something more uplifting in order to effectively deal with isolation.
If you’re feeling cooped up and the weather permits, open the windows and doors or step outside and take a brief walk around the neighborhood or in nature (while still social distancing!). Public events and spaces may be cancelled, but the outdoors are not! Our bodies crave the fresh air and movement. Give that to yourself.
Be sure to talk to friends, connect with family, check on neighbors—there are a million ways to do this today. I love the Marco Polo app for sending recorded messages between loved ones. It’s amazing what that bit of contact can do for your mind.
Manage stress in other healthy ways that have shown to reduce anxiety. Breathing exercises, yoga and meditation are all effective ways to achieve that mind-body connection to sustain you through difficult times.
Maintain a healthy physical environment
Through this experience, we have been reminded of the importance of good hygiene and cleanliness. Take this time while you are stuck at home to start your spring cleaning! We might not all find joy in cleaning, but know you are doing it for your health and that of your loved ones. If you have kids, take this moment to teach some domestic skills!
If you can, use mostly natural cleaning agents, but be sure to disinfect high touch surfaces with bleach or other viral pathogen killing products, even if this isn’t your ideal. Basic tidiness can go a long way too. Keep dishes at bay, bathrooms wiped down and other high-use rooms picked up.
Nourish your body
Keeping yourself and your family fed with nutritious food means stronger immune systems to battle any infectious virus that might cross your path in the coming days. Our #1 goal at the Co-op is providing you with the fresh and healthy natural foods you’ve come to expect from us. During this time there is a chance we might not have exactly what you are looking for, but know we are doing everything we can to keep the shelves stocked for you and are happy to help you find comparable substitutes for the items on your list.
During your grocery trips, be sure to pick up plenty of vegetables and fruits for the week (fresh or frozen), whole grains, legumes, meat and dairy (or vegetarian alternatives) and definitely a treat or two—you’re going to want it. And lastly, be kind to yourself if your eating pattern looks a little different right now while your routine has been flipped on its head.
We at the Co-op believe we’re in this together. These are difficult times for many, but we will get to the other side and deal with isolation hand-in-hand… metaphorically.
For additional information, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the professional organization for dietitians) has produced several helpful guides for staying healthy and preventing COVID-19 infection. The advice is in accordance with all CDC, NIH, USDA and WHO recommendations. For recipes ideas and cooking tips, feel free to reach out to me. We’ll get through this together!