Coronavirus (COVID-19) . . . Questions to Ask, part 4

2020 Questions “From the Heart” Series

Have you settled into this “social distancing” life yet? Or are you starting to get on everyone’s nerves? You may be thinking, “Me? Get on everyone’s nerves? How about them!?” Well, I bet it’s a little bit of both, right? Maybe it’s time to get off the couch and move that one body you have. It just may help each other get along better.

What mental, emotional, and physical routines have you started? Hopefully, you have already started helping your body, mind, and immunity with a healthier menu. So, let’s look at some ways you can move and groove right at home during this time.

MOVEMENT/EXERCISE

With our lives being turned upside down, we are all trying to navigate our new normal. But how can we when the fitness center shut down, and we depended on it to keep motivated? How can we shift to working out at home?

Let’s first wrap our thoughts around movement as nutrition for the body. According to Katy Bowman, Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement, “. . . movement—natural movement—functions as nutrition does. Movement is a required input, with everyone needing to sort out the best dosage for their individual body. Movement ‘doses’ include which parts are moving and how, as well as how often.”

She offers that movement doesn’t have to be seen as just exercise. She offers that movement doesn’t have to be seen as just exercise. “We live in a world where ‘life’ is mostly sedentary, and ‘exercise’ is the one or two hours a day we set aside to fit in some movement. While that movement is beneficial, research shows that this approach isn’t meeting our bodies’ needs for movement.”

When seeing movement in the same way you see food essentials, Bowman proposes that “. . . movement, like food, is not optional; that you have receiving signals of movement hunger in response to a movement diet that is very low in terms of quantity and poor in terms of quality—meaning you aren’t getting the full spectrum of movement nutrition necessary for human function.” She explains “. . . you either are lacking movement nutrition entirely, or you are eating mounds of movement Snickers without ever reaching for a movement kale salad.”

While you contemplate movement nutrition, Bowman gives us tips for movement while staying at home:

  • Open your home gym: find about a two-foot-wide mat space and gather your gear to say “Welcome to your new home gym!” Have them out so you see them as a reminder. Take any knick knacks or art off the wall above to the same width. If you have exercise equipment, use it. If not, substitute common household items—rolled towel or mat for a dome, stack of books for a block, belt, scarf for a strap, sleeping bag or bundle blankets cushions for a bolster, filled water jugs or heavy items for weights.
  • For homeschooling, pick everyday activities like cooking as educational (math/chemistry).
  • Get outside as much as allowed; look for nature-centric lessons with a little walking, bending over, squatting to see what’s growing. And use everyone’s distance vision and far-listening skills.

Mayo Clinic offers tips on 15-minute workouts you can do at home. You can also check out YMCA virtual classes and Les Mills home workouts.

For those fortunate with extra homestead acreage, it’s the perfect time to enjoy nature’s space for movement and stress relief. Whether apartment, high-density community, or acreage, begin to embrace the simple joy of movement/exercise just as you do with nutritious, appetizing eating.

STRESS

We all handle stress differently. Yet, in this unique and unwanted season of life, fear intensifies our stress. Managing stress comes in many forms, hopefully without resorting to binging on alcohol or food. For families with young ones at home, Bowman offers ways to juggle home, your new homeschooling adventure, and work tasks.

  • Focus on the positive; reframe your “interrupted” work time as simply more dynamic.
  • For homeschooling time, find a permitted way for outside/gather/art time.
  • Choose walkable spaces, gather a few plants, snap a photo, and draw. Become a backyard biologist.

For us all, let’s help each other replace unhealthy fear and worry with faith, hope, love, joy, and gratefulness. Begin to creatively share ways you live your faith, hope, love, and joy with others. At the beginning and end of each day, share one thing you are grateful for. No matter how small that thought may seem to you, appreciating the simplest of things shifts us from stress to serenity. Look for good news daily.

During this time, I have started to do focused breathing daily. I also look for something of nature to contemplate and enjoy . . . whether it is a nearby tree being gently blown by the wind, a hummingbird that surprises me on a flowering bloom. It is a human tendency with chronic fear to cause shallow chest breathing and results in our fight-flight-or-freeze stress hormones to rage. A typical physical hint I get is a pain or strain in my neck and/or muscles. That signals me to rest, refocus, and refresh.

With all we do to eat healthy, exercise, and manage our stress, there is no match like having a good night’s sleep. How about you? Sleep experts Dr. Rachel Salas and Dr. Charlene Gamaldo, John Hopkins Medicine, Preparing Your Bedroom for a Great Night’s Sleep, gives us six ways to make sure we get that needed sleep for our physical, mental, and emotional health.

  1. De-Clutter Your Room and Make the Bed. Clutter can stress you out. Move those dirty clothes to the closet, and make the bed every morning: research shows people who do may sleep better at night.
  2. Remove Blue Light-Emitting Technology. Our bodies take between three to four hours to wind down before sleep, notes Dr. Gamaldo. Research shows that the blue light emitted by computers, smartphones, TVs and LED lightbulbs wreak havoc on the natural process and can prevent the body from producing melatonin. At the very least, unplug an hour before bedtime, and consider moving the TV and other electronics to the other room.
  3. Banish the Pets. “You should choose your bed partners wisely,” says Dr. Gamaldo. Pets can be disruptive when you’re trying to sleep and sharing your bed with a pet can elevate your internal body temperature. If possible, keep pets off the bed — and consider making them sleep in the other room.
  4. Set the Right Temperature-your body temperature naturally drops as you sleep; most people sleep best in temperatures 65-69 degrees, according to Dr. Salas. If necessary, turn down the thermostat before turning in for the night.
  5. Invest in Quality Window Shades—black-out curtains or room-darkening shades help filter out external light and contribute to a more restful night’s sleep..
  6. Use Soft Lighting if you need to get up in the middle of the night-avoid turning on bright lights that disrupt your ability to quickly fall back to sleep.

To reduce stress and help our brains, Dr. Aaron Hartman, MD, Richmond Integrative & Functional Medicine, suggests adding the right kinds of foods and fats in the form of EPA and DHA for proper brain function. Also, avoid sugar spikes, red and yellow dyes which are neuro-inflammatory, and focus on getting adequate amounts of micronutrients.

This is also an opportunity for starting a practice of prayer and meditation and pull away from all the social media and news. For some, Dr. Hartman suggests an appropriate dose of melatonin short-term may help with sleep and serves as an anti-inflammatory, immuno-modulator, and suppresses the stress hormone, cortisol.

But simply getting eight hours of sound sleep helps your body produce its own melatonin and boost your immunity. Since viruses naturally recycle over time in a mutated form, creating healthy immunity levels and a well-balanced lifestyle are paramount in keeping your body, mind, and emotions steady through these recycling challenges.