Five practical tips from experts to feel good and stay strong.
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Months of quarantine have disrupted all of our wellness routines. As gyms faced closures and everyone was forced to remain in their homes to protect public health, many people found that their holistic health took a bit of a back seat. Not only did people’s workouts suffer, but many of us turned to comfort food, alcohol and other less-than-stellar choices in lieu of not having much to do. Restaurants switched to takeout-only services, and a lot of us found we were indulging more often than usual. Fortunately, our health and fitness routines are salvageable.
To that end, I recently spoke with two wellness experts — renowned yoga instructor Brett Larkin and mental-health expert and founder of Ascension Media, Dr. Denise McDermott MD — for their recommended ways (along with one tip from my own experience) to achieve holistic health and fitness even as society remains slow to reopen.
1. Find a workout you genuinely enjoy
Understanding the centrality of joy Brett believes “working out should never feel like a chore, and it should help you to build up your confidence.” After all, when we do things we actually like, we usually stick with them.
That could be yoga, dancing, aerobic, Zumba, stretching or any other phisical activity. You can go solo or pair up with your partner or children.The key is to identify what you enjoy thoroughly that it doesn’t leave you exhausted. Fix a time and stick to your schedule.
2. Start with small changes
Dr. McDermott advises all of her patients that starting small is better than not starting at all. “All of the little choices we make throughout the day add up,” she explains. Swap out a few bad habits for good ones, and you’ll be on the path toward improved total health.
3. Find an accountability partner
Quarantine has been a very lonely time for many of us, but with the connection technology offers, we can stay in touch with those who motivate us. “If you want to stay committed to your pre-quarantine sunrise yoga practice or workouts, find someone just as enthusiastic as you are and check in with each other as you complete your workouts,” recommends Brett.
Accountability partners are friends who keep you on track to meet your goals, so connect wisely. “Remember,” Brett adds, “even if your partner is online, it doesn’t have to mean impersonal.”
4. Stay connected via video calls, telemedicine and social media
”While our in-person communities are restricted, there is no shortage of like-minded people out there,” encourages Dr. McDermott. “Social media has proven to be a great place to build a community and be inspired. Influencers and writers focused on mental health have been motivating audiences with mindful messaging in this challenging time.”
Video calls are also a great way to keep your team connected and to not feel isolated. Recent research by Well Being Trust states that stress from the pandemic could cause a spike in depression-related suicide or substance abuse. Dr. McDermott invites everybody to seek for professional help via telemedicine for suicide prevention. Family members and friends must also keep a tab on the mental health of their loved ones to identify early signals.
“We need to encourage people to love and embrace themselves,” says Dr. McDermott. “Awareness, self-love and altruism are integral to the ability to take humanity from crisis to stabilization to thrive.”
5. Make a schedule and stick to it
Understanding that we can schedule all the activities that impact our health means that we have more control over how we feel as long as we stick to it. Schedule your workouts, and don’t cancel. That time you block out is the time you give yourself. Make it a priority. Instagram tutorial videos on body-and-mind wellness can be a great source of motivation. This is what I personally do to stay on track.
This new normal can represent a future where we take better care of ourselves, and that is vital when it comes to protecting against stress and disease. We must continue to view the quarantine as a time where we can reassess our habits, changing them in ways that help us feel better. And what can be more important than committing to ourselves?