Are you feeling overwhelmed by the temporary changes (and, let’s not forget, the constant updates that we get to watch/read/hear about these days)? It’s time to re-focus and revisit the wonderful health habits that you already have in your life. Let’s prioritize them every day by doing them!
Our healthy habits are our secret sauce for success in this one-of-a-kind, temporary situation. Those healthy habits (even if you can only do a couple a day) will get you successfully through this temporary season by increasing our vigor and stamina.
Access your Weekly Health Calendar with instructions on WHAT to do here. Document any of the activities that you do for each respective day of the week. If you are downloading this calendar on a Wednesday, start with Wednesday!
Your simplified fundamentals of are listed at the top of each page of the Weekly Health Calendar. Do them daily (and don’t forget to first check with your medical doctor for customized recommendations – and/or continue with those recommendations that you already received). Here we go:
# 1: Tension Release & Relaxation
A 15 min prayer/meditation practice a day.
Split that time into smaller chunks of time, (e.g., 5 min at 6:30 a.m., 5 min. at noon, 5 min at 4 p.m.):
Use guided meditations (those where another person prompts you to follow the relaxation cues that they are giving). Guided meditations release tension, and with less tension, your immune system is more likely to respond at its best. An improved immune response is what we are after!
Pick one of the many relaxation techniques. Engage in mindful breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, or yoga. Take a deep breath and start beating depression, anxiety, and stress! You will also notice that your heart rate may improve (as usual, consult your primary care physician for his/her medical recommendations for you)!
#2: Light to Moderate Exercise
Engage in 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise
Remain physically active each day. Choose any physical exercise that you can make work even when gyms are closed. For example, conduct an at-home strength training with books from your bookshelf. Watch aerobic exercises online (e.g., youtube).
As there are so many types of exercise available today, choose any physical exercise even if it is not your ideal form of working out (e.g., instead of doing your strength training, aerobic exercise or yoga class in a studio, take brisk walks).
If you keep up your physical fitness (even if you cannot make it to the gym right now), your stress response will be lower than if you don’t work out: if you exercise, you’ll feel less stress and a greater sense of control in your life than if you don’t exercise.
# 3: Healthy Diet
Eat 3 balanced meals, 2 healthy snacks a day
You can strengthen your physical health and immune response by the type of and the amount of healthy foods you eat. Check with the American Board of Nutritionists for their recommendations on healthy eating (e.g., make sure to include superfoods such as sweet potato, load up on nutrients such as your omega-3 fatty acids, drink water to name a few healthy habits here.
#4: Online Social Support
Engage in one online social support meeting/group a day (to keep the doctor away)
Look up a way to connect and check in daily with a group of empathetic individuals with whom you connect (e.g., based on a passion, condition, hobby).
Engaging with your social support network that are uplifting will help you keep your mental health in great shape. Look for groups that share positive emotion. If you are recovering from an addiction, your engagement in your 12 step meetings will be crucial (even if it means that you will need to call into a phone meeting if the face-to-face offline meetings have been cancelled).
List 5 things that express your gratefulness. E.g., access to food, water, shelter, support are just a couple of our essentials that we often take for granted
Daily jot down 5 things you are grateful for.
Use on a notepad that you have handy (a notepad with your collection of gratitude items counts as a gratitude journal :))
Here are some benefits of gratitude:
Gratitude is the antidote to entitlement and dissatisfaction;
Gratitude keeps us grounded by allowing us to enjoy the many gifts that encounter daily. It allows our body to calm down, to go into relaxation mode and to stay relaxed.
Gratitude cheers up others, so share your gratitude list with your loved ones at home and your social support network.
#6: Gentle Communication
A (acknowledge the feeling) V (validate) R (reassure)
Repeat 10-50 times daily to you those around you that we all have feelings (acknowledge), that there is a reason for feelings (validate), and yet, together we are in this, together we will make it through (reassure).
-Take breaks from talking about stressful topics (especially early in the morning and after 8 p.m. at night) so that your body and mind can get some rest;
-As much as it is in your control, choose the time for communication with others about emotionally difficult subjects as conducive to your schedule and energy levels. If you are the one needing to propose a different time for the conversation, promptly let the person know which time will work for you (and then take the lead to initiate the conversation during the time you proposed).
• Choose a time when the two of you are relatively calms and there are minimal distractions.
• Notice any physiological signs (such as rapid heart rate, sweaty palms, flushed/red skin) indicating that you may not be calm enough to have a productive conversation.
• Ask your talking partner if he/she’s available to talk about something important.
• Be willing to take no for an answer and schedule another time to talk if your talking partner isn’t available to talk right in that moment.
• Use relational questions such as
o “I would like ________. Would you be willing to do that?
o “What I would like is ________. Is that something you’re willing to do?”
o “Would you be willing to ________?”
• Present your request when you’re feeling highly activated or triggered. (“Activation” is a physical and emotional experience of feeling tense, edgy, or charged up in a non-sexual way. Feeling activated can range in intensity from very mild to severe).
• Present your request when you feel you MUST talk about the topic now and can’t take no for an answer. Instead, write your request down and remind yourself that a good time will come to review the request (e.g., after a night’s sleep).
• Persist in talking to the person you wish to talk to when he/she says he/she’s not in a very good frame of mind to have a conversation.
#7: Connect for Accountability
Use the weekly health calendar daily and note what activities you are doing to bring about and maintain your healthy habits. Share about your weekly calendar with others.
Sharing our lives with others brings the accountability to stick with what is good and let go of habits that are not as healthy. Would you be willing to share about your weekly health calendar? Would you be willing to teach others how to use a weekly health calendar? Together we are in this, and together we will make it!
Feedback? Email me at [email protected]– I would love to hear from you!