The Coronavirus outbreak has necessitated the taking of extreme measures including quarantining, curfews and lockdowns. Without these measures in place it would be much difficult to contain the spread of the virus which continues to spread and take a toll on the health systems of countries globally.
It is however not all doom and gloom as some of these measures may actually present opportunities which were previously out of our reach for many of us.
With movements severely restricted most of us are finding ourselves spending a lot of time indoors. All this freed up time opens up avenues to get back on healthy habits and self-improvement activities, all of which were previously impeded by our busy work or school schedules.
Some of healthy habits and activities that we can incorporate include:
1. Healthy Diets
One of the greatest impediments towards achieving a healthy diet has always been our busy work schedules. Consequently, most people resort to eating out which usually equates to unhealthy fast foods.
Nevertheless, even when we have time to prepare our meals its usually too limited and thus we often find ourselves resorting to fast-cooking processed alternatives (e.g. noodles) if not reheating leftovers day in day out.
Now that we have time on hour hands, this presents an opportunity to have balanced home cooked meals that we have missed for so long. You can explore new healthy recipes and while at it, stock up on healthy alternatives that can last you and your family for long such as pulses and whole grains.
For those that have some space to spare around their homes, this is also a perfect opportunity with the onset of rains to set up a kitchen garden and grow some vegetables.
And lastly remember vegetables should take the largest portion of your meals (not carbs), more so during this period when your energy requirements are low since you’re mostly likely inactive. But we ought to fix that too.
2. Staying Active
A common excuse for not exercising that we nutritionists encounter ever so often is the lack of ample time. This is despite the fact that most people tend to be actually quite motivated at wanting to keep fit.
For that reason, this is a great time to explore inventive ways to keep fit indoors, a radical proposition for those that hold the misconception that the only way to keep fit is by going to the gym.
There are plenty of exercise routines one can explore indoors that don’t need elaborate equipment. Some of them include:
- Resistance training using your body e.g. push-ups, chin-ups, sit-ups, body squats
- Aerobic/Cardio exercises e.g. skipping rope, jogging in place, jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers (not be confused with outdoor mountain climbing)
- Combining Resistance training and Aerobic exercise e.g. High-intensity Circuit Training (try the 7-minute workout)
- Dancing e.g. Zumba
- Doing chores around the home e.g.. trimming the fence, slashing grass, gardening, hoeing your farm etc.
3. Learning new skills and exploring hobbies
Want to learn how to cook, play an instrument or even knit? How about writing, coding or investing? Well, now is the time to explore them! Keep at it and your skill could become a lifelong hobby, a side-hustle or even a full-time job.
On the other hand, if you had a hobby that you had to put on the back burner for lack of time, this is a great time to reignite it.
So go ahead and catch up on your backlog of books, albums or films. However remember to set some time apart for exercising and other activities as it’s very easy to get carried away when engrossed in something you love doing.
4. Bonding with your family
All the above activities present perfect avenues to bond as a family. Cooking, eating and exercising together as well as helping around in house chores can go a long way in strengthening family bonds and in that line promoting good mental health.
For young children that may not be able to go out to school and play as usual, parents, guardians and older siblings can do some home-schooling as well as tap into their curious minds by engaging them in their hobbies.
5. Get Adequate Sleep
If you’re working from home the good news is that now you don’t have to put up with those long commutes that came at the expense of your much deserved sleep. You can now plan your daily activities to ensure that have you get plenty of time for sleep and naps i.e. at least 7-8 hours for adults and 9-12 hours for school-going children and teens.
Habits to Limit
In much the same way free time opens up opportunity for wholesome activities it’s also liable to abused through unhealthy time killing habits. Some of these activities may include:
1. Excessive social media use
At this time of heightened anxiety and never-ending news headlines (some of which are unverified or fake) it’s a good idea to limit the time we spend on social networks.
It’s a very well-known fact that social media sites can be addictive as most of them are designed with this in mind. This is especially true for children and teenagers (aka “digital natives”) who happen to be the most at risk of developing poor mental health outcomes from such use.
2. Binging on TV
Watching movies and series tends to be the go-to activity for most people to kill time and is even a fulfilling hobby for some. However, when such watching turns to binging marathons that last hours on end then it becomes a very unhealthy pastime that can affect your back, eyes and take time for other healthy activities such as exercising.
3. Excessive Gaming
This is almost similar to binging on TV with the addition that it can be just as addictive as social media use. Parents should especially be on the lookout that their children are not spending too much time gaming; and not just on their gaming consoles (PS4, Xbox etc.) but also smartphones.