We are all challenged with major disruptions in our day-to-day routines during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is very easy to feel overwhelmed or stressed as we navigate all of the changes simultaneously. It is during these times when self-care is crucial to good mental and physical health.
If you are struggling with the disease called obesity, the Emerson Center for Weight Loss is here to help. Learn more at emersonhospital.org/weightloss or 978-287-3532.
Here are some tips to help nourish your mind, body and soul from our dietitians and social workers at the Emerson Center for Weight Loss.
Schedule your meal times. It is so easy to engage in boredom-eating and increased snacking while at home close to the kitchen and fridge! Stick to a meal schedule so you don’t develop a habit of frequent eating, which will be hard to break when you get back to your normal routine.
Plan meals and prepare healthy snacks in advance. When you know what you are going to eat in advance, you are more likely to stick to normal eating routines. This can also help you limit your purchases to only the things that are essential.
Keep a food log. If you are actively trying to lose weight or maintain recent weight loss, food tracking to improve accountability and reduce mindless eating can be very helpful, especially as more or different foods might be around with children home from school.
Keep your regular exercise schedule. Maybe you used to go to the gym before or after work. Schedule that time for home workouts! Moving regularly is a great way to boost endorphins and feel-good hormones, and a good excuse to get out for some fresh air. Even if you can’t dedicate a lot of time, consider having movement breaks during your day. Many gyms and fitness studios are offering online classes, and many online streaming services have exercise videos for free!
Drink plenty of water. Often, we mistake thirst with hunger. Being dehydrated can increase snacking or grazing and make you feel more fatigued, weak, and can affect concentration. Drink calorie-free beverages throughout the day, like water or seltzer.
Try to maintain a normal sleep cycle. Sleep is so critical for our mental and emotional health and directly impacts our behaviors around food. Continue going to sleep and waking up at a typical time, or try to use this time to establish a better sleep cycle of seven to nine hours a night.
Stay connected. It is so easy to feel isolated and lonely when stuck inside and you are not able to get together with friends and family or participate in social events. Reach out regularly over the phone, meeting platforms like Zoom, or through social media and FaceTime! A sense of togetherness and community is crucial right now, and virtual gatherings can be very uplifting.
Learn something new. If you find yourself with more time on your hands, think about activities you have always wanted to do, books you wanted to read, podcasts you wanted to listen to, etc. Do them!
Practice gratitude. Take a minute every day to be grateful for something. It restores us to think about what we have, and not just on what we have lost.
Relax. Try to curtail your mind from catastrophizing by engaging in activities that make you happy and relaxed. Get up and dance, listen to your favorite song, do a puzzle, meditate, and focus on serenity whenever possible.
Be kind to yourself. Do not put too much pressure on yourself. We are in a time of change and worry. Do not add to your stress by creating unattainable expectations or burning yourself out.
Perform small acts of kindness. Doing for others is a proven way of making yourself feel good. Drop off a book for your neighbor to read, pick up groceries or donate food to someone in need, or send an encouraging text, card, or letter to someone to let them know you are thinking of them.
Keep up with your appointments. Most health care practices are performing visits via telehealth to help keep our patients healthy and safe, and to minimize disruptions to care. If you feel you need help, especially with the emotional challenge of living during a pandemic, ask your primary care physician for a referral. Do not delay medical care if you need it. Emerson is a safe place to come for care.
Remember that although times are unsettled and potentially stressful, this is temporary and some level of normalcy will resume soon. If you or any of your loved ones need support for mental health, here are some free hotlines: