What You Can Control

Many times in life we find ourselves in situations that feel challenging. You may feel a sense of not having control over a situation, and it is jarring. While the truth is that we are actually never in control over what happens to us on a daily basis, being reminded of this can really take its toll.

Here are some helpful tips that folks might get some use from right now.

Unplug. You’re not going to miss something. You’d be hard-pressed to keep from hearing about all that is going on right now. You don’t need the newspaper, TV, radio, and internet coming at you all the time, and it’s just stressing you out. Take breaks from time to time throughout the day — and especially an hour before bedtime.

Eat to support a healthy immune system. While bread and pasta might keep in a cabinet for a while, they are not going to help boost your immunity, and in fact can damage it if not consumed in moderation, given the level of sugars they contain. If you can still get out to the store, grab some fresh produce. If you are worried about eating them before they go bad, then just eat them right now — very few of us get the 10 servings a day that are best for optimal health. If you’re concerned you might not get back out to the store later, buy frozen versions, which will keep. If you can’t get to the store, ask a friend or neighbor for help. See this helpful graphic for shopping list suggestions.

Move as much as possible. Don’t have a stationery bike or treadmill at home? That’s okay. If you have weights, bands, and/or an exercise ball, you can use those. And if nothing else, you always have one piece of equipment on you at all times: Your own body weight. Push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, or just walking up and down your stairs will do the trick. Leg lifts, arm circles, and any other ways of moving rather than sitting are helpful. Even just getting up to get your water bottle instead of asking someone else to bring it to you is good! Movement is essential for maintaining a strong immune system.

Get outside. If you are somewhere with sun right now, you will get a double bonus: Vitamin D PLUS the outside air. Regardless of where you are or what is going on, you don’t have to stay inside even if your schedule has changed and you don’t have as many activities on your calendar. Check out your local parks. Talk a walk, a hike, a run. Any movement is good and helps boost your health, as mentioned above.

Connect with people. Make some phone calls. Letters are also great — I just finished two to friends today. While there are lots of opportunities to try new ways to reach out to others, this connection doesn’t have to be high-tech. It’s okay to not use a screen all the time. If you can meet people outside and stay 6 feet away from them, you can still see them in person. Meet them somewhere, although not in a group — one-on-one works best for this sort of connection anyway.

Do the things you’ve been meaning to do. This feeds the soul, which then strengthens your mental health. I’ve already heard people grateful for the time to finally: Clean out a room, arrange those files, start meditating, organize the photos, learn the guitar, write a poem, draw a picture, read the book that’s been sitting there for months, begin a daily yoga practice, play a board/card game with a loved one, catch up on sleep, do that stack of crossword puzzles.

Check on your attitude. This is the BIGGEST thing that ONLY you can control, because it’s 100% inside you. Stress will not help your immune system. After acknowledging that sometimes things suck and are really hard and you hate them, what can you reframe so that you feel you can carry on today?

You can get through this. I’m sending you wishes for good health and I’m cheering for you.

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