If you’re reading this when it’s been published; we’re in the middle of uncertain times. What’s looking more clear is that many of us will be following government recommendations and staying inside for long periods. Not just protecting ourselves, but protecting those more vulnerable in the community. It may seem like an easy challenge for the occasional grey day and Netflix binge, but for extended periods of time it can be challenging for our mental health and sitting for long periods isn't good for our bodies.
Here’s 8 tips for staying inside that you might like to try:
Staying in bed scrolling on your phone before sleep, waking up late, feeling sluggish all day. Does this sound familiar to you?
If we take a look at nature it tends to be quite structured, wild animals stick strictly to the sun for its timekeeping and a form of structure can be crucial in keeping us grounded and healthy. Maintaining some semblance of structure in your day can create healthy boundaries. What will make today a success? When will you “switch off” for the day?
Importantly, make it work for you.
2. Regular breaks
If you're working from home regular breaks can really help; especially with productivity. "Research has found that the most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take breaks for up to 17 minutes." Find a pattern that works for you but don’t rest there; get up from your chair, or reading position and move around.
3. Open a window
Keep the fresh air flowing through your apartment or home. It’s possible, if you live in a usually busy area you might be able to hear bird song for the first time. But there are also benefits for you inside too: the less fresh oxygen in a room the more clouded and lazy you become due to the rise of CO2 that you’re breathing in. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air.” Houseplants are also a great way to clear the air whilst brightening up the room. And they’re good for another reason too, see our next tip.
4. Look at something green
If we can, try and get out into nature every day. Numerous studies have shown it to benefit our mood, reduce our stress levels, improve our confidence and self-esteem. But even if we can’t get out, we can still glean benefits from nature - by looking out of our window to our garden or nearest tree. Failing that, even your houseplants. The colour green is more important than we realise. “Some scientists and researchers believe that because our eyes are at the peak of their perception to detect the wavelengths corresponding with the color green, the shade may calm us down.”
It’s time to collect your houseplants and have a long chat with them :)
Sitting all day and scrolling through social media may feel addictive but it is not good for our minds, even at the best of times. If you're feeling like your mood has taken a dive, rather than try to think yourself happy, how about clearing your mind by writing out all your troubling thoughts with a technique called Freewriting?
Although it’s claimed to clear writer's block, it can also be really helpful freeing yourself of some of those burdensome worries, whatever your profession. The trick here is not to think about what you’re writing, don’t rehearse the words, let them flow out onto the page. If you’re new to the practice, give yourself some time (and some lines) to get into the flow.
Running, the gym, zumba classes, all exercise is great for body and mind but depending on the rules your favourite form of exercise might be off limits for the next few weeks. You've still got that (nervous) energy to burn so what can you do?
Dance like no one’s watching.
Grab your favourite playlist (Can we be so bold as to suggest Ultimate 80’s?), pull the blinds, pump the volume and jump around like you don’t care! Dancing can feel vulnerable for some of us, tricky though it might feel to start with, embracing that vulnerability in the comfort of your own home might be a really powerful move, not just a powerful workout!
“But for many of us, there is no form of self-expression that makes us feel more vulnerable than dancing. It is full body vulnerability”.Brene Brown
Being sedentary is one of the hallmarks of modern life but for all its comfort it has impeded us in many ways. It has given many of us chronic lower back problems, made our hips incredibly tight and even shortened ligaments in our legs! Now with more time indoors, it’s highly likely we’re going to be sat for even longer periods and many of us aren’t fortunate enough to have a house we can run around in. It’s time to get into a stretching routine, here’s some videos to talk you through:
- Seated yoga: https://youtu.be/-Ts01MC2mIo
- Or something a bit more intense, Ashtanga yoga for beginners: https://youtu.be/1Krp4W0TlAU
8. Look after your eyes
Many of us spend hours in front of a screen of sorts, whether it’s the laptop, the TV or the smartphone. With a never-ending news cycle and plenty of Netflix to catch up on, it’s an extra strain on the eyes. Why not give them a rest. And we don’t mean just close them. The muscles behind our eyes have to work extra hard looking at things close by. Why not give them a workout every now and then to avoid digital eye sprain or eye fatigue.
From drawing figure eights with your eyes to alternating focus in the distance and then your extended thumb. There’s plenty of exercises to try.
You may have noticed - that we do not need to be in a crisis to practice any of these tips. Perhaps we can initiate some new good habits under these conditions that we can take with us.
Maybe we can do things differently.