If you want to promote physical and mental health, in this world full of facial masks and work from home, these routines I’m suggesting will make all the difference!
We live in what is now called a “new normal” that, in my point of view has nothing of normal, and I hope will soon be the “old Covid-induced state” but opinions aside, what really worries me is the long term consequence of this new lifestyle on both our physical and mental health.
We need priorities in life and so it’s only natural that these days the pandemic is THE priority, after all that’s the only thing in the news.
Well, I have a different point of view, and I hope to convince you that these three routines are very worthy of becoming part of your daily priorities.
Your wellbeing matters, and I hope to give you some perspective on little big things you should be focusing right now.
1. Walk daily
Remember the 15.000 steps daily goal, it had a purpose and still does!
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, we were already quite sedentary for the original purpose of the human body. Today, we are much more.
Our body is built for walking, and walking is the healthiest of all aerobic activities we can introduce in our day to day life.
Not only it boosts heart health, but it also exercises all our main muscle chains, from the feet up to the core, arms and neck. By sitting or even laying down these many hours, we are slowly losing our physical might in the worst way possible: without even noticing.
Legs become numb, the hip area loses flexibility and our core becomes lazy in sustaining our spine… For those over 40 years-old, the impact of this period on our bodies will be very difficult to get back from.
So, again, make sure you walk daily. If you have been sedentary for the past couple of months, start slowly and build from there. This is not the time to dive into a cross fit challenge, at least not right away 😉
Breathing is, again, something that is vital for our overall health and yet we take it for granted. We never think about learning how to breathe properly, it sounds ridiculous… However, most of us breathe in a way that is too shallow, and now with the masks on this will get worse.
Please keep in mind the air circulation behind the mask is not normal. When you wear a mask, it’s natural that each inhale will get shorter, just because there is resistance. And then you exhale, and the carbon dioxide that gets out lingers behind the mask. That is why so many people report strange symptoms while wearing a mask. Hence, the need to counteract this effect by intentionally practicing a breathing routine.
Let me tell you something personal: I only learned how to breathe properly when I was over 35 years old and it changed my life! I owe it to yoga, but you don’t have to start a yoga practice to benefit from it.
A simple routine of 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes late afternoon, making very deep and slow inhales – slowly count to 4 – and then the same for the exhale – slowly count to 4 again. While you’re breathing, place your hand on your abdomen and let it expand with the inhale, like a baby’s belly. And then contract your abdomen when you exhale.
This doesn’t need to be meditating. You can be planning your day if you want, or your dinner, or listening to music for that matter (the latter is my favorite).
Let me explain why you should practice deep breathing regularly:
Deep breathing, which takes advantage of our full lung capacity, has a very positive and immediate impact on our level of stress.
The movement of the abdomen will stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system, which is the nervous system of rest and digestion. By realizing that there are no imminent dangers, the body reacts by calming: the heartbeat will slow down, the digestion runs smoothly and the level of stress-related hormones – adrenaline and cortisol – is also reduced.
In the medium term, this routine can have a positive impact on blood pressure, leading to a welcome drop, and even on body weight, as excess cortisol is an enemy that creates not only mental health problems but also extra fat, especially in the abdominal region.
So, please, breathe daily!
3. Create positive boundaries
When working from home, it’s so easy to always be working!
When the quarantine first started, I had a full four weeks where I was always on, even weekends. And then I felt exhausted. I realized that there was no personal time, no “having fun” time, no wind-down time – the physical space being the same, everything felt the same, and work prevailed. Not good!
We all expect the next big challenge in the post-Covid era to be mental health. You know, the insidious dark feelings that start with mild stress and anxiety, and next time you notice have led you to feel the worst person in the World, useless, empty… It’s called depression and it also kills, I’m sorry to say.
So, my very simple, easy to implement tip to create and cultivate your defenses against a less than bright state of mind: create positive boundaries in the way you allocate your time, so you feel in the driving seat of your life, and you like where you’re going!
Make room for work, yes, but also for everything you like in life:
- Make room for breathing.
- Make room for walking.
- Make room for journaling and acknowledge your emotions.
- Make room for learning a new skill, something you love.
- Make room being silly and having fun, be it alone or in company.
- Make room for cooking a meal you’ll enjoy.
- Make room for …
… Whatever you need in your life, other than work, and don’t be apologetic about it.
I sincerely hope you try these routines and don’t forget to tell me if you like the result: comment below or visit me on Instagram – @glowchef – and tell me everything!