Hopefully you’re becoming a little more comfortable with the health care basics that are helping to slow the spread of COVID-19: maintaining a safe distance from other folks, wearing a cloth face covering to the grocery store, and washing your hands are still the most effective steps we can all take to “flatten the curve” and protect our most vulnerable family, friends, and neighbors.
But the COVID-19 pandemic is also a personal health care challenge. Gyms are closed. Access to parks is restricted. Recreational sports leagues and clubs are shut down. And with so many of us working from home, even our most basic levels of daily movement and social interaction are below where they should be.
Staying home is best for our society’s health right now. But don’t overlook these three keys to maintaining your personal health as well.
1. Keep a routine.
The first step to solving your pajama problem is admitting that you have one.
If the comforts of home are a little too comfortable, your productivity and your wellbeing are going to suffer. A quarantine routine will help you maintain a sense of purpose and get things done.
When it’s time to work, take a shower and make yourself presentable. If you don’t work from home regularly, carve out a corner that’s just for you and your laptop. You’ll feel more motivated to treat your workday like a workday and you won’t be scrambling for a comb and wrinkled dress shirt if the boss calls an emergency Zoom conference. This approach could also help organize the day if you’re a non-working spouse who’s been called into teaching duty.
One benefit of being at home is that you might be able to enjoy three daily meals with your family. Leave your work in your work corner when it’s time to eat. And between meals, treat the kitchen like a closed cafeteria to limit excess snacking.
Finally, unplug when it’s time to unplug. Play with your kids. Read. Watch a movie with your spouse. And stick to your regular sleeping schedule. You might not have to commute for a while, but you do have to be in your work corner tomorrow morning, energized to tackle the day’s tasks.
Once the shelter-in-place restrictions are eased, you can still get outside for your regular workouts. But the same social distancing rules that apply to your weekly grocery run also apply to your daily run. Keep a six-foot bubble around yourself. If your regular route looks crowded, choose a less beaten path. Wear a cloth face covering. Avoid resting on benches or fences or drinking from public fountains.
Gym rats might be missing the professional equipment and instruction they’re used to. But there’s also a wide variety of online classes and workout routines to explore that can get you as close as possible to your normal training session. Why not try a free at-home class that’s outside your comfort zone?
Perhaps most importantly, don’t let yourself settle into the couch or your work nook all day every day. During quarantine, you’re not walking to and from colleagues’ offices or down the block for your lunch break. All those missed steps are going to add up. If need be, set an hourly timer on your phone. Do a set of push-ups, jumping jacks, or sit-ups. Walk around the yard. Jog in place. Getting your heart pumping is good for your health and also good for maintaining concentration once you’re back to work.
3. Stay connected to others virtually.
Social distancing and our shared anxieties around the pandemic have given many of us a new appreciation for the people in our lives. Weekly video chats with friends and family are keeping us close to our loved ones. Virtual game nights and streaming video parties are keeping us entertained together. Creative professionals, coaches, and teachers are broadening our minds. Online ordering and contactless delivery are allowing us to support the restaurants and small businesses at the heart of our communities.
The bonds that are sustaining us all virtually are only going to be stronger once we’re able to spend real face time together again. We hope that we can be part of your support system. If you have any questions or concerns about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting your finances, please reach out. We're still here... even if we are wearing pajama pants.