By Tessie Tracy
5 min read
The past week has felt like a month. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. With news of COVID-19, the coronavirus, bombarding our everyday lives… our awareness has been heightened, which makes moments seem to pass slower. While this elevated sense of presence has bestowed many of us, it can also contribute to an increased sense of stress, anxiety, confusion, sadness, fear, and more.
Just as much as we’re all experiencing the “same thing”, it’s important to remember we’re all experiencing it through our own unique lens of life, and that’s ok. The beauty within the chaos has been seeing humans jumping at the opportunity to help each other, with tips, content, ideas, suggestions, information, etc.
With these 3 practices I’m about to share, I simply want to say, digest them within YOUR own experience. The last thing any of us need is for the support to feel like just another overwhelming thing we “should be doing”. When I use the word “essential” for these practices, that doesn’t mean perfect, and I don’t mean it has to look exactly like I suggest. I say essential because they are rituals that will help us (even outside of a pandemic) feel more sane, balanced, refreshed, energetic, joyful, fulfilled and productive.
HEALTH PRACTICE #1: EAT REGULAR MEALS, DISTRACTION-FREE
By this time, we’ve probably heard a similar suggestion, but let’s dive into why it’s so important. Our bodies operate through a phenomenon called Bio Circadian Nutrition. Think of a sleep/wake cycle for your metabolism. When we wake, our metabolism is revving up, ready to be fed so it can use energy. It peaks around midday, as does our Calorie-burning capacity. Through the night, metabolism slows down so the body can focus on detoxing, tissue repair, and other rejuvenating processes. It is NOT optimized for digestion.
This is one reason it’s important to have a breakfast, try to have lunch between 12-1:30p and have a lighter-than-lunch dinner at least an hour before bed. That being said, if you are meal-skipping, overeating or not eating (which is totally normal when stressed!) you could be making things worse on your body, mood, weight, digestion and immunity by not having regular meals.
As an Eating Psychology Coach, I am also the first one to say that just because something seems “simple” doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Even though I just gave you a very tangible, practical tip, it’s one of my biggest pet peeves when experts don’t take into consideration that we we all have a unique relationship with food and body. Meaning me telling you “just do this, not that” might not be helpful. If that’s you… What you can do, is try. What you can do, is be gentle with yourself. What you can do, is a baby step in this direction, simply as an experiment to see if it helps.
The reason I’ve specified with Distraction-Free, is because we are physiologically designed to digest, assimilate nutrients, and metabolize optimally in a state of relaxation. If you are standing, eating fast, distracted, watching the anxiety-inducing news, etc. you could be putting your body in a chronic state of low-level stress, during which blood goes away from our digestive system, cortisol levels rise, blood pressure goes up, and other hormones can be thrown out of balance. We’re more likely to tune in to our natural appetite, feel satiated, and get the most nutritional benefit from our food when we eat slow, enjoy it, and try to relax during the meal.
Set a timer if you need to, both an alarm to remind you when it’s time to eat, and a 15min timer while you’re eating to remind you to sit there and relax for a full 15min… it might be harder than it sounds!
If you’d like more tools and tips on mindful eating, nutrition, recipes, etc. I’d 100% love to have you join my complimentary Facebook Group, the Food & Body Breakthrough Tribe!
HEALTH PRACTICE #2: SCHEDULED MOVEMENT
Notice I didn’t just say “move your body”. Haha, I know, because I’m human too. If I don’t have a plan or a time I’m exercising, it’s definitely a little less likely to happen, or get pushed to the back burner. Now that I’m not leaving the house 99.9% of the time… you better believe it’s helping to schedule this in as if I am showing up for a class.
During this time, I highly recommend finding some virtual guidance on movement, like yoga, stretching, High Intensity Interval Training, Dance classes, etc. that are happening live at a certain time that works for you, or schedule a time 4 days a week to show up for yourself and get it in. Even better if you find yourself an accountability partner!
Here are some of my favorite free or low cost workout resources I love:
Yoga with Adriene on Youtube
Sworkit App Versatile home workouts, including workouts for kids!
Rachel Recharged created the Recharge Method, movement to heal stagnant emotions combined with rejuvenating meditation. She is based in Los Angeles and shares movement sessions on her IG.
PopSugar has various workouts, including bodyweight, weightlifting, and dance cardio for all levels!
HEALTH PRACTICE #3: A PERSONALIZED, PLEASURABLE ACTIVITY THAT INDUCES RELAXATION FOR YOU
I wish there were a simpler way of phrasing that, but the truth is, this one is going to be very personalized. Incorporating activities that bring us pleasure, spark creativity, or feel really fulfilling, will be one of the TOP things that keep us sane during a time of otherwise instability. When working with clients, I’ll have them do the following exercise, and I invite you to join in too!
- Write out a pleasure list! Brainstorm all the things that bring you joy, fulfillment, relaxation, etc. Even if they’re things that can’t happen right now, like taking a vacation, going to fitness classes, etc. write them all down anyways, allow it to all get out on paper.
- Circle 3-5 of your favorites, that are realistic to incorporate now, and that you’re not already doing on a regular basis.
- Choose 1-2 to do this week! Again, schedule them in. Tell someone that you plan to do it. This is helpful too if it’s an expectation that needs to be set, like explaining to someone you live with that you are “taking an hour to yourself” etc.
Here are some examples to get the juices flowing:
- Learn a language
- Listen to music
- Play a game
- Have sex/masturbate (don’t worry, I’m blushing too)
- Take a bath
- Plant something if you can (flowers, veggies, herbs)
- Take a course, learn something new
- Call family/friends/get creative with initiating connection virtually
Coronavirus attacking your Mental Health? Check out the below BroglieBox articles:
Can we talk about something else? 100 Things to talk about that aren’t about the Coronavirus.
4 Ways To Stay Resilient No Matter What Happens
Mental Health Tips for Parents, Families, Children During School/Child Care Closings
You Are What You Eat! The Brain & Allergen Connection
5 Tips to be Healthy, Fit, and Happy!
You can also find some great Mood Food Recipes here!
The BroglieBox Quarantine Box (pictured above) is the perfect care-package to help optimize your mental health and aid in stress relief! Each box contains items in varying categories like mindfulness, sleep, aromatherapy, gratitude, fitness, and more.