Let’s be real: when it comes to our mental and physical health, quarantine had its ups and downs. If you think about it, these ups and downs seem to contradict each other. While many of us gained the opportunity to spend more time with our family than ever before, we also became more isolated from family and friends. While many of us were able to take some extra time to prepare food (and in a shock to my significant other, bake!), there was also the temptation to sit at home and order more junk food than usual. Finally, while many of us finally got the time at home we’d been craving so much, many of us also ended up working more after losing the clear boundary between work and home.
By now, you may have heard about how quarantine life has caused new levels of alcohol abuse and has even caused a wave of childhood obesity not seen in years. However, there are other bad habits the pandemic has caused that need to be addressed.
Bad Habit 1: Not Standing Up
The research is clear: during regular times, the amount of time most Americans spend at their desk is not only bad for the mind and psyche, but is bad enough to actually accelerate death (look what this 2018 study from the American Cancer Society had to say about extended periods of sitting). It’s gotten even worse as technology has improved. For example, you may be old enough to remember when all office work wasn’t centered around computers and people had to stand up and walk around the office to get things done. Now, you barely have to leave your desk except to get coffee. As another example, remember when we would actually stand up and take care of chores during commercial breaks on TV (then spring back to the TV when the commercial break was over)? Digital media and DVR have all but eliminated the need for these breaks.
If modern office life offered anything in the order of standing, it at least meant that you would have to stand up to walk to and from your car in the morning, and would have to walk a few feet to bug your favorite coworker. But now post-quarantine, many workers sit in front of their computers for several hours at a time without the need to move to commute or communicate with coworkers.
The best way to counter this? Schedule your breaks. Set a timer for every 20 minutes or so to walk and look away from your screen. Also, don’t underestimate the value of a 10-minute walk during your workday- even if that walk is just in circles around your living room or backyard.
Bad Habit 2: Not Getting Enough Sunlight
While this probably applied to many of us before the pandemic, this should be included in the “post-quarantine health” conversation. I distinctly remember a talk with a friend of mine at the start of quarantine: “I can’t wait to telecommute and enjoy the sun a little bit. My office doesn’t have any windows and it just feels so drab and gloomy sometimes”. Sure enough, when we spoke via video call a few months later, all his curtains were drawn in his home office. “I don’t know, I guess I’m just used to working this way”, was his response when I mentioned his earlier comment.
It’s important to remember that our exposure to light- both natural and artificial- has significant effects on our health. Most elementary-school students can tell you that exposure to sunlight provides vitamin D, which improves bone health, heart health, and immune system function.
Exposure to sunlight for reasonable amounts of time has other benefits as well, such as helping to naturally regulate our melatonin levels for healthy sleep, improving serotonin levels for healthy stress management, and if studies are true, sunlight may even help improve blood pressure and increase life expectancy.
Bad Habit 3: Not Actively Paying Attention to Wellness
Over the last decade, our society has made significant steps toward understanding and recognizing the value of holistic wellness in everyday life. However, much of the emphasis on living well, eating well, and thinking well seemed to shift instead to “how can I not get sick?” (which of course was and is a valid concern) in March 2020. It’s as if we began using our bodies less, so we cared about them less. However, our bodies are not cars that can be parked in the garage for a few months and restarted with minimal maintenance. Wellness should be an ongoing pursuit.
If you’ve taken a break from wellness and are realizing that your body has also taken a step back, you’re not alone. Many people have reached the tail end of the pandemic with new aches, pains, and ailments, and have discovered that what they thought would work for them diet-wise may not be the best solution, after all. Don’t be afraid to ask for help on getting started again. We don’t want our clients to feel the way they did before the pandemic; we want them to enjoy better lives than they did before the pandemic.
It all starts with a free, private 15-minute consultation. In our consultations, we take time to understand your problems and offer a solution plan tailored exactly to your needs. We offer a limited number of in-person consultations weekly in our Boca Raton, Lake Worth, and Miami Beach offices, and also offer virtual consultations as well. Click below or call (561) 343-4994 to schedule yours today.