When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation in early 2020, the nicer weather made it easier to adopt new recommendations to reduce our risk of catching and spreading the virus. Restaurants were allowed to open with patio seating. Friends and family could safely maintain relationships and exercise routines while social distancing in an outdoor setting.
With the colder weather coming and COVID-19 still lingering, you may be wondering how you can keep safe indoors and maintain healthy lifestyle habits long term. Here are some tips on keeping your mind and body healthy, including ideas for indoor exercise, managing stress about indoor events and even healthy eating habits to help keep your immune system in top condition.
Do your part
For some of us, it might be a little anxiety-inducing to think about spending more time indoors around other people. But remember, by making safe choices and following proper guidelines, we can all help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Do your part to keep yourself and others healthy:
- Wear a mask (properly)
- Wash your hands
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Avoid others who have symptoms of an illness
- Avoid large gatherings
- Limit trips
Exercise does so much more than keep your body in shape. It can help improve your mood, maintain quality sleep habits and even boost your immune system. These are all good reasons to stay moving even as temperatures dip in the coming fall and winter seasons.
Besides, chilly weather isn’t a reason to stay inside. You can bundle up in layers and head out the door for an invigorating run or walk in the fresh air. Or, if you’d rather stay indoors or the weather is dreary, try an at-home workout.
Still need some ideas? Try one of these:
- Yoga. Many studios are offering virtual classes. You can also find low-intensity workout videos, like yoga or Pilates, on YouTube. These exercises are a great way to calm the mind and strengthen the body.
- Weight training (at home). Invest in some resistance bands or small hand weights for an effective workout in the comfort of your living room. Or, grab a can of soup or water bottles for some makeshift weights. You can also use your own body weight during push-ups, lunges, squats or wall sits.
- Exercise with friends virtually. Get a group of friends to log into Zoom at an appointed time and do a workout together. Try a YouTube video or get creative coming up with exercises that challenge your body.
Manage stress and anxiety
Let’s be honest: We may be many months into the COVID-19 pandemic but we’re still adapting and adjusting to changes in our environment. That may mean virtual learning, or it may mean kids are heading back into school buildings. Managing this uncertainty can take a toll on your mental and emotional health. Try one of these proven approaches to help ease your mind:
- Practice yoga
- Call a friend
- Read a book
- Start a gratitude journal
It can be tempting (and easy) to reach for a bag of your favorite potato chips or sneak a few extra pieces of chocolate after your lunch. But, eating healthy helps power your body, supports your immune system and can even improve your mental health. If you need a little motivation to stay on track, try one of these tips:
- Stick to a schedule. Eating at a regular time can reduce the chance you’ll graze all day on empty calories. Instead, plan to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks around the same time each day.
- Eat in season. Believe it or not, there are great fruits and veggies to be found in the fall and winter. Load up your cart with apples, bananas, Brussels sprouts, carrots, pumpkins and celery.
- Experiment in the kitchen. There’s no shortage of healthy takes on our favorite recipes – including delicious comfort food. Plus, you can make it a family affair to teach important life skills in the kitchen.
- Keep healthy ingredients on hand. Fill your pantry and freezer with nutritious staples like beans, quinoa, pasta, frozen vegetables and frozen salmon filets. Healthy ingredients make it easy to whip up quick and healthy meals.
If you do indulge a little more than you should on your favorite sweet, don’t be too hard on yourself. Know that tomorrow is a new day to make healthy choices.
Another important aspect of healthy eating habits you may not think of is keeping your kitchen and food prep equipment clean and organized. After all, a disinfected kitchen cuts down your risk of spreading germs and bacteria, and having things stored in a proper place makes it easier to find what you need as you prepare your meal.
Stick to healthy habits
At the beginning of March, many of us looked at extra time at home as the perfect opportunity to start a new healthy habit, learn a new skill or commit to work out more. But, as the months have gone on, some of our resolve has faded.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to be patient. Change is hard and sticking to a new habit takes persistence. Give yourself a little grace as you adapt to new routines. And don’t be too hard on yourself if you occasionally fall short of your goal. What’s important is that you try.
Schedule a visit
Your primary care provider can also offer helpful advice and insight on how to stay healthy as weather cools. Schedule an appointment using our provider directory or find a doctor near you.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.