If sheltering in place with your favorite snacks has you worried about putting on “the COVID-19 pounds,” know this: The weight on your scale doesn’t determine who you are, and it’s not a testimony to how well you are coping with the situation.
The COVID-19 pandemic was unexpected, and it quickly altered life for everyone. Your routines have changed. You may be processing new feelings. And establishing your new normal will take time.
Rather than dwelling on the jeans that fit last summer, focus on your wins thus far and ways you can make positive, healthy changes to enhance your well-being from day to day. OhioHealth Employer Services wellness consultant Jennifer Pitcher, RDN, shared these strategies for strengthening your mind, body and soul.
Fuel your fire
Everyone has been trying to find the fire that will spark their day and give them motivation to get things done. When you’re tempted to eat throughout the day, Pitcher says reach for healthy alternatives that give you both a boost of energy and enjoyment.
This could be a favorite morning smoothie, creating a photo-worthy salad full of color for lunch, or a protein-packed snack of apple with peanut butter. Whatever will nurture your body while giving you a jolt of fun.
Just remember to be mindful about true hunger and your level of fullness, says Pitcher. Listen to your body and check in on yourself. Take note of what you want versus what you actually need.
Schedule a smile
We can’t deny that cravings are most definitely a thing. We all have them, especially now. It’s hard to give the cold shoulder to foods that give you comfort, and to turn down the convenience of pizza delivery and fast-food runs.
Pitcher says, don’t cut out the foods that make you happy. Just treat yourself to them at special times. Plan which days you will enjoy your favorite foods, giving you something to look forward to throughout the week. Maybe you have Taco Tuesdays at your local food truck, or get ice cream on Fridays to celebrate the end of the work week.
Move your mind
Pitcher says it’s important to move your body with exercise, but to also discover how you can move your mind.
Try an online yoga class, meditate, or find stretches that will calm your thoughts and relax your muscles. If your walk or run routine is getting old, turn it into an opportunity to tune into a new podcast or build a workout playlist. You might also consider planning a day adventure to a new park or trail that might be just a few extra miles down the road.
Take some time to learn that new skill you’ve been putting off. Open up that cookbook on top of the fridge and whip up a new recipe. Turn that yarn into a knitted blanket. Finish the half-completed puzzle in the dining room. Or finally start the book that you’ve been meaning to get to. Whatever it takes for you, just be sure to keep your mind flexed.
Give yourself some love
You can generate willpower by practicing self-love, especially during tough times. “Self-love opens up space for you to learn from your mistakes, and prepare for the future by finding ways to do better next time,” says Pitcher.
Anticipate what is to come and work on being proactive, rather than reactive. Focus on improvising, adapting, and overcoming life’s challenges to be a better and stronger you.
You are not alone. Everyone is facing some form of adversity in their life during this time. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for finding happiness or an ideal way to cope with the stress. Those are things you must discover for yourself.
One way to find some light is reaching out to family, friends and co-workers. A simple phone call, group chat, or even snail mail deepens your connection, even from a distance, and can give you a new perspective on how others are adjusting their lifestyles, too.
It’s time to stop checking the scale and start celebrating small victories. Every day is a new chance to find happiness within, mentally and physically. Nourish your body, treat yourself from time to time, bend your mind, give yourself grace and stay in touch with your loved ones. Along the way, you’ll uncover the path to fulfillment.
“There are so many things that you can’t control, but focus on what you can control,” says Pitcher. Treat yourself how you would treat others – kindly.