Navigating the Great Pause – Self Care and Nurturing in the COVID-19 World
Navigating the Great Pause
It’s been eight (plus) weeks in quarantine and by now, we’ve hopefully established a routine, a new normal and structure to our days. While some have settled into a routine and feeling less anxiety, others are wondering if their business will thrive again, grieving the loss of a friend or family member, or critical life events such as a graduation, prom or wedding that never happened. I’m not going to sugar coat it, this is tough! And, in our lifetime, it’s unprecedented.
As of now, most states are nearing or in Phase I, and although this brings hope for what is to come, we all know that it’s going to be slow going, and we could use a hefty dose of patience.
Looking back over the past two months, whether you used this time to evolve into a better, healthier version of yourself or battled frustration and anger while engaging in unhealthy outlets to self-medicate, either way, take a deep breath, it’s going to be okay.
Here is an outline for taking control of your days and creating the healthiest, happiest version of yourself. Inside, we are all strong, compassionate, self-loving, kind, and confident, but a global pandemic can break even the strongest if we aren’t armed and ready. So, lean in as I outline a roadmap to rediscovering your best self.
Foundational Habits When we build a structure, it must have a firm foundation, one that can withstand the elements and decades of wear and tear and remain strong. The same is true for making positive changes in your life. Without a firm foundation of healthy habits and mindset, your goals are nothing more than a “to-do” list. Set yourself up to win for life.
Mindset Rather than focusing on the negative (which our brain naturally gravitates), perhaps consider the universe is giving us a gap year. Time back in our day to work on ourselves, relationships, and that 1% growth that you never had time for previously.
Measuring Success We are all on a journey, our path of self-exploration, self-evolvement, and excellence. There are many paths to success, and what works for one may not for another. So, do yourself a favor and make the choice to avoid comparing yourself to another. The success of someone else doesn’t take anything away from you. There is plenty of success to go around. Emotionally stay in your lane. There will always be someone fitter or faster or smarter or “fill in the blank,” than you in life. Focus on you – while being happy for them.
Gratitude It’s easy to focus on what you don’t have, the liberties we’ve lost, and woe me, blah, blah, blah. We’ve all been there many times since this whole mess started. The fastest way to set yourself straight is to be grateful for what you have.
Turn on the news for an updated number who succumbed to COVID-19, no fault of their own. Or consider the unemployed with no health insurance and no way to pay their bills or feed their children – and that’s just in our country. If you are in a better place and have your health – there’s no reason to complain. Sure, your hair and nails might need some attention – but where are you going anyway? When businesses open their doors, we make a pact not to judge the roots or the uncut mess – wear it like a badge of honor. Plus, the way I see it if you have hair and are healthy – be grateful.
Take control of your time – With the slower-paced, unstructured days, it’s easy to let the universe dictate our routine as opposed to taking control of our day to day activities. Instead of wishing for motivation, create momentum! When creating new habits – consistency is the key to success. Stringing positive habits together by repeating it day after day after day is the recipe for lifelong success.
Try to wake up and go to bed around the same time.
Eat your meals around the same time every day.
Do something active every day.
Limit mindless screen time.
Limit news watching to short periods, maybe once/day to reduce anxiety.
Devote time to loved ones and friends. Nurture the need for human connection by calling, face timing, taking a walk (socially distancing), and spending quality time with those who live with you.
Ask yourself what is important in life right now.
Cook your meals and enjoy eating healthy.
Healthy lifestyle habits If you are smart, you will make the most of these slower paced days by establishing healthy lifestyle habits. Such as improved sleep, consistent and mindful exercise, cleaning up the diet, yoga, meditation or de-stress techniques, and incorporating functional strength training.
Sleep is the number one best thing you can do for your emotional, physical, and mental well-being. Aim for 7-9 hours/night.
Eat real foods – prioritize fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meat and dairy, nuts/seeds, and nut butter. Supplements are simply that – to supplement what you don’t get in your diet. Micronutrients are absorbed more efficiently from food than supplements. Eat real food.
Don’t skip meals or count calories. Eat real food and dial in the mind-body connection of hunger and fullness.
Yoga and meditation have been proven to lower anxiety. Anxiety untreated over time compromises our health. Focus on what you can control and leave the rest.
Understand that no amount of exercise can outrun a bad or unhealthy diet. Exercise or being active is an investment in your body and mind. It is not a vehicle for losing weight. Don’t over-exercise to shed a few pounds. Instead, change the quality of what goes in your mouth.
Avoid fad diets – they are intended to fail. Why do you think there is always a new one on the market? Diets work for a short time, then fail. More importantly, what you don’t read in tiny print is the physical repercussions caused by elimination diets. Examples include hormonal and endocrine downregulation, muscle loss, lower basal metabolism, and neurological and biological implications.
Limit alcohol to 1-2 days/week and 1-2 glasses.
Hydrate with water – at meals/snacks and throughout the day esp during exercise.
Limit caffeine consumption before noon as it negatively affects the quality of sleep.
Rather than focusing on a number on the scale, focus on creating healthy, sustainable habits that will support your body and active lifestyle. You’ll find it less stressful, more enjoyable, and sustainable.
When you eat or do something inconsistent with your goals – avoid self-shaming. Be kind to yourself. No trash talking to your body – it can hear what you say.
We are all in this together. It’s not easy for anyone. But this will end – one day – and when that day comes, will you have made the most of your quarantine days? Will you have established better sleep habits, practiced self-kindness and self-patience, established a healthy, balanced diet with lots of colorful fruit and veggies, consistent exercise, and adequately hydrated? If you say no to some of this, it’s not too late. Focus on making small daily changes – and before long, you will have strung hours into days into weeks, and created new habits.
Be safe and well!
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