It’s been well over a month of social distancing for many of us, and there are some days when it gets tough. Even those who are still leaving the house for work aren’t able to enjoy favorite activities like going to the movies, friendly brunches, and extended get-togethers. It can be difficult to maintain energy and positivity right now, but here are some easy ideas for keeping your vibes high!
I’m working from home and social distancing, so I’ve definitely been going a bit stir-crazy. Some folks who are still leaving home for work may not be feeling quite so isolated. However, everyone I’ve talked to, both those who are relatively out-and-about and those working from home, have felt the frustration of being restricted due to pandemic preventative measures.
One common effect that many are experiencing is a lack of energy, both bodily and emotional. At a time like this, mental and physical states are more interconnected than ever. So, to get past that icky, been-stuck-at-home-for-too-long feeling, while staying safely distanced, here are a few ways for you to renew your energy stores and feel revived.
Get your sweat on
I’m talking, get out of breath, heart-pumping, getting sweaty! To fight fatigue, it seems counter-intuitive to exert yourself, but a good boost of aerobic exercise can really help your energy levels, possibly even more so than caffeine. Exercise can trigger the release of endorphins, which induce a sense of wellbeing, and also help you sleep better later, improving your energy for the next day. Depending on your usual fitness routine, you may want to include some higher-impact exercise, like jogging, Zumba, aerobics - or even rope your partner or kids into a crazy kitchen dance party!
It’s a little surreal that in the current circumstances, sometimes the most basic habits are the most difficult to maintain; however, if your routine is disrupted, it can be hard to stay on top of your normal habits. Make sure to keep hydrated by continually filling your water bottle, and even setting an alarm on your phone every hour to remind yourself to drink! Even mild dehydration can mess with your vitality, mood, and motivation, so it’s important to drink water, especially if you start your day with coffee, which can be dehydrating.
Listen, I’m not above tricking my brain into being productive. I like to beat inertia by setting small goals for myself and accomplishing them. Completing tasks, even small ones, helps you feel accomplished and releases positive, feel-good neurochemicals like serotonin and dopamine.
If I’m feeling a bit underwhelmed at the start of my day, I like to make a to-do list of even small tasks, like washing my dishes, sending an email, even making lunch, and then cross them off. If the goal is part of a passion project, such as finishing a painting or upping your Strava record, it can be an even more satisfying sense of achievement. This can keep you on track, and create momentum to keep going!
Adaptogens are beneficial plants and medicinal mushrooms that help our body to better adapt in response to stressors. That’s where the “adapt” part of adaptogens comes from! Adaptogens have been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, and have recently gained popularity in the natural and holistic health realms.
Adaptogens are a great alternative to coffee or other caffeinated beverages; if you’re experiencing ongoing fatigue, caffeine can stress out your adrenal system. Adaptogens can boost your mood and vitality without the intense stimulation of caffeine. Some adaptogens work extremely well for energetic support, like ashwagandha, eleuthero, and schisandra. You may want to try an adaptogenic supplement blend targeted at improving energy and vitality!
Sitting still and going deep within isn’t the first thing you might think of for creating some fiery energy and focus, but mindfulness and meditation can absolutely help you calm intrusive thought patterns and improve your day’s trajectory. Start simply; if you don’t already have a practice that works for you, you can try some simple mindfulness exercises, or take five minutes to meditate.
I love to combine my mental and physical routine with yin yoga, which utilizes gentle poses held for a few minutes at a time, much longer than usual yoga flows, to stretch out the muscles and connective tissue. The time holding these sometimes-uncomfortable postures can be very meditative, and I usually wrap up my end-of-practice savasana feeling refreshed and at peace. However, preferences for mindfulness practices can be very personal, so explore your options. You might find that Qi Gong, using a mindfulness app, or even some simple time spent sitting outdoors without distractions, is the right option for you.