So, here we are. We’ve all probably become far more well-acquainted with the inside of our living space then we ever thought we’d become. These times of mandatory home familiarity and the circumstances that warrant it can have understandable, unintended consequences. Anxiety, moodiness, loneliness, boredom, fear. All of these are undesirable under “normal” circumstances but when we can barely leave our homes, it can seem like the dial is turned up.
Obviously, the stress can affect our blood pressure in numerous ways. The stress in and of itself can have a negative impact, we can be more likely to “stress” eat to comfort ourselves and/or to ease our boredom, and we can do much, much more sitting than we usually do… and worrying, and news watching, and worrying more.
I’d like to offer a few practical suggestions that we incorporate in our home.
First, to help manage stress: Download a meditation app. There are many good ones that are free.
- Insight Timer Meditation
- Stop, Breathe & Think
Just a few minutes a day can be extremely helpful. Also, take a look at our last Circulatory and our discussion about the 4,7,8 breathing technique.
Second, ideas to help with stress/comfort/boredom eating (so that we don’t gain a lot of weight and negatively impact our blood pressure).There are two parts to what I want to suggest:
- Most of us want some “fun” food. For comfort or because it breaks up some boredom, or because it’s there calling our name. I’m going to suggest that during these forced stay at home times, we cut ourselves some slack about the comfort and boredom part, while getting a handle on the “calling our name” part. The way we do it here in our home, is that we always have some treat that we love to eat in the house. In our case, it’s cookies that we love. I take them and package them 2 at a time into baggies. I then put all of the baggies into the freezer. They’re out of sight and their ability to call our name is decreased. There’s a bit of effort involved in eating them at room temperature, which gives you a moment to think about whether or not you really want them. AND we each allow ourselves one package (two cookies) a day and so we know we have them to look forward to each day, and we don’t feel deprived, and so we don’t feel like we have to eat them all at once because we’re irrationally afraid that we won’t get them again for a long time!
- Ideally, the food in your home should include a good deal of fresh and/or frozen fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, beans, legumes, and low-fat dairy. You want to have these healthy “real” foods around to grab when you’re hungry or just in the mood to munch (especially knowing that later in the day you can have your equivalent of the 2 cookies). You knew that was going to be my list! That said, I know that even in the best of times, not everyone has that, and in the present atmosphere, we can certainly be running out of some of these key items and find it very hard to arrange a delivery to stock back up. In terms of fresh fruit and vegetables (filling, nourishing and anti-inflammatory), a service that we’ve recently started using is called Misfits Market. They deliver organic produce that is misshapen and not wanted by the supermarkets. It’s a subscription service that can be cancelled at any time and can be delivered every week or every two weeks. This is what they say on their site: “Always fresh, sometimes normal. Organic produce delivered directly to you for up to 40% less than grocery store prices.”
Third, try to find ways to move around your living space. It’s good for your circulation, your stress, your sleep, your weight and your mood and so, for your blood pressure. If you have stairs spend 5 minutes 3 times a day going up and down. Put on the TV and run in place. Or just walk in place. Do jumping jacks. Download an exercise video. Set a time of day (alone or with someone) to put on some fun music and dance for half an hour. Obviously, go for a walk outside if you can (and find some inclines to walk on if you can)… With a mask and at least 6 feet apart from others. Personally, I’ll keep my phone in my back pocket and throughout the day so that I can check the number of steps I’ve taken. I find that it inspires me to do more when I have some form of measurement.
Please act wisely. Stay safe and be healthy and kind with each other.
Here’s to your health!