Staying at home means you can no longer rely on fancy gyms or superfood salad shops to make you feel like your healthiest self. But should we have a problem being healthy or feeling our best when left to only our own devices? After all, the only person that can truly heal us is ourselves, and outside sources like barre studios, smoothie cafes, and gyms (while wildly effective and my personal health staples) can distract us from being truly intuitive and understanding what our body actually needs.
There may be no “silver lining” in a time as frightening as this, but you can give it a purpose. Instead of resenting our new normal, use it as an opportunity to become in-tune with your body and learn how to truly take care of yourself. Here are 10 ways to help you tune into your body and achieve your healthiest self while staying at home:
1. Stock up on frozen produce
Fresh is always best, but if you’re trying to avoid grocery stores as much as possible, stock up on frozen produce to have on hand for stews, stir-fries, and smoothies. Not only is organic frozen produce often cheaper, but it lasts longer than the fresher versions, and it’s also frozen at peak freshness, which means it’s packed with as many nutrients as possible. If you prefer non-packaged produce, you can also chop up fresh veggies and freeze them yourself (produce like sweet potatoes and broccoli last a long time in the freezer).
2. Stream online workouts
Even if working out at home is not your norm, there are dozens of awesome streaming services to find the workouts that work best for you. If you belong to a local gym or studio that you love, they may be offering streaming services or even doing Instagram Live workouts so you can keep up your routine. Just a side note: if you’re able to, consider keeping up your normal membership payments if you go to a local studio or gym (even if they stopped charging members), so you can continue to support the small businesses you love.
3. Get outdoors
Going outside and getting some fresh air has the potential to turn your entire day around. Even going for a walk around the block can have benefits, but you can also head to your local park, beach, or hiking trail (as long as they’re not crowded, and you’re practicing safe distance from others). Try reading on a park bench or a blanket on the grass for some relaxation, or do an outdoor workout or go for a walk for some exercise (just don’t forget your SPF!).
4. Set up a specific area of your home that’s tech-free
Tech can be used to help your health (read: online workouts), but sometimes you just need a break. Whether it’s your kitchen table, bedroom, or meditation corner, designate a space where no tech is allowed. Setting tech-free rules for your space helps set expectations and guidelines when you’re spending 24/7 at home. A designated tech-free area can help you remember to put away phones during meals or to turn off Netflix for the hour before bed.
5. Stick to your rituals
As tempting as it is to sleep until noon and watch Netflix all night, now is not the time to abandon your routines. Shower and brew a cup of coffee before starting work, if that’s what your normal mornings look like. If you fit in a workout first thing, keep up with your regular schedule as much as possible and get moving when you wake up. That goes for nighttime routines too: stick to a consistent bedtime, read before turning out the lights, or do whatever feels normal. Keeping up your rituals and routines will help reduce any stress and anxiety, but will also help you to keep (or boost!) healthy habits throughout the day, as well.
This might even be a good time to double down on routines, like making your nighttime shower (that’s typically a quick five-minute routine) into a relaxing oasis by lighting a candle and using luxurious body scrub, or sitting with a morning cup of coffee and meditating before starting your day.
6. Keep your home clean
Keeping your home clean can have health benefits like reducing fatigue, reducing allergy symptoms, and can even strengthen your immune system. Try to keep a daily checklist that includes sweeping, vacuuming, wiping counters, making the bed, and doing dishes. Once a week, make sure to dust (like window sills or railings), wipe mirrors/windows, clean bathrooms, and wash bedding. Also, make sure you take off your shoes at the door to avoid carrying in dirt and germs and read the CDC’s guidelines for properly disinfecting your home if needed.
Keeping your home decluttered is also good for your mental health. Wellness advocate Darcey Rojas told U.S. News & World Report, “a clutter-free space contributes to your well-being because you will subconsciously feel like you are providing yourself with a higher level of self-care.” Put your laundry away, keep your pantry organized, and declutter shelves or closets when you have free time.
7. Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is one of the most important parts of your overall health and wellbeing. Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist at Colombia University, said that lack of sleep and health issues go hand in hand. “Sleep can help prevent cardiovascular problems, improve mood, increase learning and memory, and prevent weight gain.” Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night, and detox your sleep routine if necessary.
Just a side note that shouldn’t have to be necessary (but kinda is): this is a scary time. No, you do not have to work out every day, be productive 24/7, or clean out every closet/pantry/junk drawer you can get your hands on if you don’t want to. Being healthy means taking care of yourself, whether that means getting something accomplished or allowing yourself the opportunity to rest.
8. Cook more
We’re eating all of our meals at home instead of at restaurants, which means it’s the perfect time to improve your cooking skills and test out what kind of foods, meals, and cooking styles you enjoy. Cooking at home not only saves money, but you can use healthier ingredients than you might get at a restaurant. Whether or not you enjoy cooking as a hobby, there’s something extremely empowering about being able to nourish your body by yourself.
Instead of heating up a frozen pizza or ordering delivery for every meal, challenge yourself to home-cook meals more often. You can start simple with recipes that only require a few ingredients, or you can teach yourself something new, like how to DIY bread, for a challenge. Not only will homemade bread be much healthier than store-bought white bread (and taste better!), but it will feel good to have control over the ingredients that go into your foods.
9. Set an alarm on your phone to take an activity break
Since you’re probably sitting on your couch or at your kitchen table from morning until night, it’s important to fit in more movement. Live an active life from the comfort of your own home by fitting in short bursts of activities regularly. Set an alarm for once every hour to remind yourself to stand up and stretch, do some jumping jacks, or go through a yoga flow. Setting an alarm serves as both a reminder and an accountability method. You can’t say, “I’ll take a break in five minutes,” and then spend all day on your couch if you have to stop what you’re doing when your alarm goes off.
10. Prioritize your gut health
While gut health is critical for overall wellbeing and should therefore always be a priority, now is the time to focus even more on improving the health of your gut. Gut health doesn’t just determine how we digest foods; it also influences the immune system. A big chunk of the body’s immune system is found in the gut, as Dan Peterson, a former assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told Hopkins Medicine, and therefore, the gut microbiota helps regulate and support the immune system.
In other words, prioritizing the health of your gut may help boost the function of your immune system and decrease anxiety or chronic stress. Add fermented foods to your diet (like sauerkraut, miso, or kimchi), eat more fiber, and add prebiotics to your meals to improve gut health. More than anything, stay your healthiest while staying at home by trusting your gut. Pardon the pun, but your body really does know what’s best for it, so pay attention to your body’s reactions. Rest when you need to rest, move when you need to move, and eat the foods that you make you feel your very best (yes, being healthy really is that simple).