By: Dr. Erin Mackin, PT, DPT, RYT
During these unprecedented times of COVID-19, the majority of us have found ourselves spending more time at home than ever before. Some of us have lost our jobs, been laid off, or are now working from home. Though the stress of change and the future unknown may have the tendency to get the better of us, we still have power to embrace these circumstances and maximize our time at home. Many of us have probably already adapted to these changes and attempted new ways to spend our time at home while in transition. However, there may still be new creative ways of utilizing our time that we haven't tried. Below I have listed 5 ways to maximize our time at home, which may help to improve our well being, decrease our stress levels, and make us a better person overall.
1. Nurture Old Relationships and Cultivate New Ones
While we experience personal changes within the altered world of 2020, chances are many of our friends and family members are going through an adjustment period as well. This is the time in life when connecting with loved ones is more important than ever. We are all in this together. Hosting zoom parties, contacting a loved one via telephone, texting, or writing a letter are all great ways to stay in touch. Also, although we aren't able to go out into public and socialize as much as we used to, there are still opportunities to cultivate new relationships as well. You can try joining a Facebook group with people who share similar interests as your own, sign up to be a pen pal with someone new, or join a virtual bible study or religious group in alignment with what you believe to enhance a greater sense of community. The formation and continuation of relationships is one of the most important things we can do to improve our mental and physical health while also adding meaning, belonging, acceptance, and support to our lives.
2. Exercise At Home
Though some of the gyms have already opened, there are still many exercise facilities that are hindered by COVID-19. If your gym/studio is still closed or you are continuing to practice safety by staying at home and avoiding public spaces when necessary, exercising at home may be your best option. There are many fitness leaders including but not limited to personal trainers, yoga teachers, and pilates instructors that are offering their services virtually at this time. It may be a good idea to see what your past gym/studio is offering to their members during COVID-19. If you are new to gyms/studios and wish to join an organization to better assist in reaching your fitness goals, try researching gyms/studios on the internet that are offering online services that best fit your needs. If you have pain in a location including but not limited to your knee, hip, back, or shoulder, it may behoove you to contact a physical therapist offering telehealth services. Physical therapists are trained to design an exercise program specific to your injury to decrease your pain, restore your function, improve your quality of life, and assist you in safely reaching your fitness goals.
3. Declutter Your Space
There is something magical about being in a wide, open, non cluttered space. Decluttering your home will allow you to feel more organized, relaxed, and calm. However, decluttering can feel like a massive undertaking, especially if you have been accumulating possessions for decades. The trick is to find a method for decluttering that works for you. You could choose to throw away or donate one item a day. Or, you could focus on a small area each day/week such as a drawer, corner, wall space, or table surface. For some people, tackling one room a month may work best. Whatever method you choose, try to keep a schedule and stay diligent with your plan. Over time, your home will feel more light, bright, and breezy. I also recommend referring to Netflix and watching Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things and Tidying Up with Marie Kondo to draw inspiration and get in the decluttering mood.
4. Create New Habits and Acquire a New Skill
What are some skills that you have always wanted to learn but have never made the time to pursue? Maybe you have always wanted to learn to play the saxophone, paint, draw, or take photos like a professional. Perhaps curating new recipes, designing a website, or developing a new side hustle is something that has always been a long-term goal that you have wanted to achieve. While we are spending more time at home during COVID-19, it is time to reflect on those long lost aspirations and turn them into a reality. The best way to do so is to treat each new endeavor as a series of baby steps and formulate each step into a habit. After choosing the skill you would like to acquire, create daily habits that will pave the way towards your long-term goal. For example, if you have always wanted to become a pianist, set aside 10-15 minutes each day to learn and practice piano. If becoming a novelist strikes your fancy, set aside a designated amount of time to focus on your story and tackle a single page each day. Once habits are formed, short-term goals can be executed and long-term goals achieved. I recommend downloading the Habit-Daily Tracker app if you have a smartphone device. It can offer accountability and provide visual cues to help you succeed as you begin to formulate new habits.
5. Keep a Journal
If you are not already keeping a personal journal, maybe now is the right time to start. Let's face it, 2020 may be the craziest year you have ever witnessed during your time on this earth. Why not begin documenting your life while you navigate through this year and the many years to come? Maybe your grandchildren will be able to read what grandma or grandpa was doing in the year 2020 alongside the information that they learn from their history books. Journals are a great way to capture your thoughts and reflect on the present moment. Plus, you may learn something about yourself as you look back on past journals and/or recall precious memories that you may have forgotten had you not written them down.