Take Back Control
Simple steps to regain your health confidence.
What a year it’s been. Chances are, you had rarely (if ever!) considered concepts like social distancing, quarantining, and personal protective equipment before this year, and now it’s a way of life. We’ve all been in survival mode. Figuring out how to safely work, get groceries, and care for our families is way more than a full-time job. If you feel like your physical and mental health have taken a back seat to just about everything else, you’re not alone. A recent study found a significant decline in Americans’ feelings about their own health since the start of 2020. How could a massive global pandemic not take a toll on us?
It’s time to turn it around. Get back on track with little changes that can make a big difference in how you feel.
Start Moving Again
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are healthy bodies. Methodical, incremental changes will help you succeed and not burn out.
Multitask! Get moving, even when you’re not working out.
- If you’re watching TV, get up every 10 minutes and do 10 push-ups, or 20 squats. Keep the blood flowing!
- If you’re at the park with your kids, don’t just sit there! Walk laps, get involved in their games, or chase them around. Protip: Always wear athletic shoes when you’re out with your children. That in itself will motivate you to choose physical activity over scrolling through your phone.
Get Up! Stand and walk more during your workday. Prolonged periods of sitting have all sorts of downfalls: back pain, poor posture, and weight gain.
- Set a timer on your phone or smartwatch to remind you to stand up at least once (for several minutes, preferably) every hour. Can you take that work call away from your desk? If so, walk around the block!
- Take 5 (or 10) – Devote five minutes to moving your body. Stretch, do a little movement, or find a short exercise routine on YouTube. If you’re working from home, chances are you’re wearing some sort of athleisure anyway, right? (One of the silver linings of being forced to stay home!)
Wake Up! Become a morning exerciser. Probably the last thing you want to hear is that you need to set your alarm earlier, but hear us out here. Research shows that people who work out in the morning are more consistent, and more likely to stick with the routine. Think about it—fewer scheduling conflicts will pop up, and it’s a great feeling to check your workout off your list first thing in the morning, right? If working from home means you’re saving all that commuting time, just swap that for exercise time.
Pump Up the Jam. That’s right! Listening to your favorite playlist can actually improve your workout (and make it a lot more enjoyable, too!) Research has found that listening to music while exercising can enhance performance, distract from the exhaustion, and improve your body’s energy efficiency—basically upping your workout game in every way possible. If you don’t already have your playlist ready, check out Spotify’s picks for the best workout soundtrack.
If books or information motivate you more than music, download your favorite podcast or the next audio book on your list, and only listen to it while working out. If you want to find out what happens next, you’ll have to lace up those running shoes and hit the pavement!
Find your new normal. If your gym, indoor cycling studio, or exercise class is closed or no longer safe, figure out a new way to stay motivated to work out in a safe way.
--Buddy Up Find a friend or neighbor to go on runs or walks with for accountability.
--Get Some Fresh Air Look for yoga classes, boot camps, and other classes that are offered outdoors.
--Soak in Nature Take a hike, find bike trails near you, seize the beauty that surrounds your community.
--Embrace the Home Workout No need for fancy equipment! Here are 5 Steps to a Successful Exercise Regimen at Home
Check In With Yourself
With all the changes we are managing these days, it is important not to neglect your mental health. Dealing with stress and your emotions in a healthy way will enable you to be your best self—a strong person who can support his or her family and community—while still meeting personal needs.
--Identify Stressors. Take a personal inventory of what is worrying you the most. Sort those thoughts by asking yourself how you can address these issues. If there is something concrete you can do to help the situation, don’t hesitate to act on it.
--Talk About It! Find a friend or family member who will listen to what it is that is weighing on you, and help you work through it. Also, don’t be afraid to seek help from a psychologist or therapist. Most are offering Telehealth options, where you can video conference rather than going to the office. Check with your health care provider to find someone who accepts your insurance.
--Stay Positive. Easier said than done sometimes, right? Here are some ideas from a licensed psychologist for keeping the good vibes flowing.
--Make it a Family Affair. Find ways to blow off steam and relieve the stress of the week that your whole family can enjoy. Go on a nature walk, have a family game night, or break a sweat with a fun family workout!
Reclaiming the confidence to be your best self—physically and mentally—is within your grasp. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, but in the words of Glennon Doyle, “We can do hard things.” There’s nothing easy about this year, but we will come out of this stronger than ever. Give your body—and mind-- the chance to show you what it can do.