Staying home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus is not easy, but there are steps that you can take to maintain your health and well-being.
Prioritize Physical Activity
• Take breaks from sitting. Stand up and walk around your home for several minutes each hour. Consider a “no sitting during commercials” rule—during television programming breaks, stand up and walk in place, do some upright stretching, or do a little dance. Even short breaks from sitting improve blood circulation and muscle activity and increase metabolism.
• Seriously, do a little dance. Surely, cabin fever must incite some disinhibition. There’s perhaps literally never been a better time to “dance like nobody’s watching”. So, turn on the radio or play some music you enjoy, move your body, and have fun.
• Take a walk outside.
• Practice yoga or Tai Chi. Both are well-suited to the indoors, develop bone and muscle strength, improve balance and flexibility, prevent falls, and reduce stress and anxiety. If you have home internet, a plethora of videos for home practice are just a simple search away.
Eat Well and Stay Hydrated
• Times are tough. Boredom and cabin-fever-induced edginess can encourage harmful habits like indiscriminate junk-food snacking and overeating. Alternatively, stress and divergence from routine can lead to under eating. Be mindful of and attentive to your diet and try to consume several balanced, healthful meals each day.
• Drink sufficient amounts of water, each and every day. Generally, older adults should drink a minimum of 64oz (or eight 8oz glasses) of water daily, with a goal of increasing intake considerably in the setting of moderate to vigorous exercise or heat exposure.
Nurture Your Mental and Emotional Health
• Maintain a routine, to the extent possible, for eating, sleeping, and activities you enjoy.
• Meditate. An intentional meditation (and/or prayer) practice offers an array of scientifically-validated benefits, from improving immunity and decreasing inflammation to reducing feelings of loneliness. If you have a smart phone or tablet, a number of well-made, free applications exist to guide you in growing your mindfulness practice.
• Limit the time that you spend consuming news. In particular, the nearly constant and sometimes sensationalized or factually incorrect news reports about COVID-19 can cause anyone to feel worried. Rely on credible sources to remain informed, and consider minimizing your overall exposure to potentially distressing news.
• Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts, feelings, and things that you are grateful for.
Cultivate Your Connections
• Communicate with friends, family, and loved ones by telephone or video chat. Consider setting daily or weekly standing appointments for your conversations to encourage routine and have moments to look forward to.
• Brighten someone’s day by sending a handwritten note.
• When the weather is nice, step out onto your porch or deck throughout the day. Wave and greet friends and neighbors who may be walking by (while maintaining appropriate distances, of course).