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Shelter in Place things You can do Part Two: Activating

We are stuck at home, if we are fortunate.


You have a full battery and have taken care of yourself. If not please go read Part One which is about things you can do when you don’t feel like doing anything. You have taken the time to feel sad, mad and bad. Now you are ready to do something but you can’t leave the house to run in the park, go to a movie, get a new tattoo, go skydiving etc. Even if things are open near you, you might not feel safe doing those things.


Well this list is for you my activated shelter at home… homies (I know, cheesy, roll with it)

As stated in Part One it can be daunting to try and come up with something to do when you feel like you have exhausted your options. You may very well feel annoyed reading this if you have done a lot of these already. That’s ok. We are in an annoying situation and you are feeling stressed. I am going to try and cover enough options to make this worth your time and perhaps put a new spin on something you might already have done.


This is focused on options that won't cost you since I know many of us don't have the income we used to have.


I have included some hyperlinks for various suggestions to try and make it a bit easier as well.


Sleep hygiene


This may sound counter-intuitive in the active list but a healthy sleep routine that becomes a habit can be what makes being active doable. Sleep is when our brain and bodies heal. It is also something that takes effort that you may not have yet been ready to do when reading Part One.


Sleep hygiene is creating habits like not looking at a screen for 30 minutes to an hour before going to bed and sticking to a routine that primes your body for sleep.


A full routine is something you stick to even on the weekends since your body will begin to memorize and prep you for sleep at the same time everyday eventually. Take actions like not looking at a screen for 30 minutes before bed and do that at the same time every night.


Example:

9 pm turn off tv or phone and make a cup of tea.

9:10 pm sip tea while reading a book.

10 pm brush teeth and do a 10 minute meditation.

10:15 pm go to bed.


Your routine should reflect your needs. In my case part of it starts by taking the dog for a walk every night at 8:30 pm. Nice thing about adding pet care to your routine is that cats and dogs don’t let you forget when they get their walk or treat so it can help hold you to that routine. I can be watching something on TV and thinking “oh just one more episode” and my dog will come sit in front of me with an expectant look reminding me that the next episode isn’t as important.


Exercise


This can be hard on many levels. It is hard to get yourself motivated to start. It is also hard to create a routine to do and takes mental energy to do. If you push yourself too much you can be sore for days. Getting hurt can be a blow to your confidence and make it hard to do other tasks. If you are able to get yourself to the point of exercise there are a lot of mental health benefits I will address in a future article (endorphins!). In the meantime, I hope this breakdown can make it easier for you to tackle getting into physical motion.


For all the suggestions in this section keep in mind I am not a personal trainer and do not have the in-depth knowledge they do on how to optimize your training.


If your finances allow, I encourage you to sign up with a personal trainer that will do sessions with you by video call or some other video communication. Working with the right personal trainer can mitigate injury since they will work with you where you are at while pushing you enough to catalyst improvement. They will also give you feedback on your form so that you don’t injure yourself and also maximize the impact of the work out. Having a personal trainer takes the pressure of coming up with workout routines off of you. They will have one created for you and depending on the extent of services they might also provide you with additional work outs between those days they work with you. Additionally, by hiring a personal trainer you are helping support an independent business owner and stimulate the economy.


Play list:

Make yourself a motivational playlist. The music that makes you want to move. This can be a beat to jog on the treadmill, lift weights to, or do calisthenics (body weight exercise). If your exercise is dancing to your favorite music that is great! Exercise doesn’t need to be a full routine; it can be you jumping around and dancing to the music.


Look up YouTube workouts:

You might even find a favorite person to follow. (One of my personal favorites, if you are a fan of anime, is JaxBlade on You Tube. He is good for motivation, entertainment, and adding new things to my workouts. He is both entertaining and educational. He breaks down how certain anime characters got to where they are physically, if it is feasible for you to aim for it, and sometimes workouts based on a character.)


Take your time:

If you didn’t work out regularly before don’t push yourself too much. Look up beginner workouts. I can’t stress this enough. If you want to choose a lofty goal like single leg pistol squats that’s great. Just look up progress videos so you can work up to it slowly. Sometimes the people on YouTube aren’t there to help you so much as to show off what they can do and look good doing. That can be motivational but you don’t start out the gate doing 100 push ups a day and not feel like you got pummeled later. The YouTuber JaxBlade I mentioned previously has videos where he talks about different ways he has hurt himself by not working out properly, upside he also covers how he has recovered from those injuries.


Stretch:

Much like taking your time with a workout, you should take your time with stretching. Some people are naturally disposed to be more flexible. With time you can increase your flexibility but don’t jump into stretching and/or yoga and expect yourself to do those picturesque poses you have seen on Instagram.


Stretching is good to add to any workout but it can also be your workout. If you want to ease into physical activity doing a daily stretching routine might be good for you. It still moves your body and encourages blood flow but isn’t as daunting as doing a bunch of jumping jacks and push ups. You might be surprised how long and even relaxing a stretching routine can be.


If you want to get into stretching by doing yoga, I can understand,k since it tends to be a full body work out and is considered active stretching. Some suggestion are:

  • Core Power has a selection of free classes available. You will have to pay if you want access to all their videos but the free classes are a good start.

  • There are channels on YouTube like PsycheTruth that while having an app have plenty of free videos as well. The nice thing about YouTube is you can search in the search bar for the channel to make is easier to find things like beginner specific routines. They also have a variety of instructors so if you end up liking a specific person you can hang out in their play list.

  • I understand if you don't have a YouTube subscription that ads can get annoying. In that case I suggest Yoga Gypsy 's website since they have their routines on video available without ads on their personal website.


Knitting/crochet


The nice thing about either of these is that if you like to be cozy and enjoy nesting in piles of blankets and pillows, you can get progressively cozier as your project progresses. You also don’t need to pick up a complicated style. You can chain stitch a whole blanket if you want to. Choose the softest yarn you can afford and just go. If you want to challenge yourself you can look up beginner YouTube videos that walk you through the steps.

There is something called the block of the month club that sends you the supplies and gives you online access to instructional videos for that month’s crochet block. Eventually you will have assembled a complete crocheted blanket.

There are other monthly crochet or knitting clubs you can join as well. I encourage you to explore your options and see what best suits you. I suggest these so that you don’t have the additional stress of obtaining yarn and other supplies since there has been some hoarding with yarn along with the toilet paper and hand sanitizer.


Embroidery/cross-stitch


Along the lines of knitting and crochet it can help to keep your hands busy and be heartening to see your progress. You can buy cross-stitch kits online so you aren’t hunting down individual supplies. One place you can start is Etsy and is another way you can support small business.


Learn a new language


This can seem daunting but you aren’t in school so you can take your time and don’t need to worry about a punishment if your grades aren’t great. You can take the lessons as slow as you need to. A fun way to do so is to also stream videos in the language you are learning and see how many words you can recognize even as you’re reading the subtitles. This also opens up a whole new avenue of movies you will be interested in watching.

Two programs I am moderately familiar with are Rosetta stone and DuoLingo (free!).


Learn a new meal or dessert


This can be as in depth as you want it to be. You can make this a week long experience if you want it to be more encompassing of your time. If you want a project, I have a checklist for you.

Choose a meal or dessert. Then research:

o What culture is the recipe from? Is it a culturally significant dish?

o What is the history of the recipe? Was it something people made when only select ingredients were available like a depression?

o Ingredients. You are limited to what ingredients you can get but you can still look up and learn about specific ingredients that are specific to the location it originated. Such as types of flour, paprika from a particular town, types of olive oil, types of butter etc.

o Look up different versions of the recipe and decide which one you want to try.


Meal Planning


If you want to challenge yourself and save money doing projected meal planning might be something you can enjoy. You can start with making a list of 7-14 meals. That you will use to make your grocery list. Ways to further challenge yourself and get more out of this are:

· Try to get the ingredients for the meals to overlap so you need to purchase less.

· Plan for fresh ingredient meals early in the week and meals that have ingredients that last longer later in the week. (salad on Monday and spaghetti on Sunday)

· Choose a theme for a batch of meals that can be based on culture, film, book, etc.


Go out and get fresh air



This sounds counter-intuitive with us all being in the midst of shelter in place but there are ways to get fresh air safely. Some parks are open and people are allowed to go there as long as the 6-foot rule is followed and you are wearing the required mask. You can look up what parks near you open. If you arrive and it is crowded you may need to have a change of plans. One space many people overlook is public cemeteries. They are an open green space and will not typically be crowded. If you can find peace there, I recommend it.


In many of these spaces the public restrooms are still closed so you

will need to plan accordingly. If you have small children or struggle with bladder issues yourself there are incontinence bags called Travel John that are sold in most drug stores. They are for urine or puke. They are waterproof and have a beads in them that turn the fluid into a gel and they seal shut so that you have time to find a place to throw it away. There is even a version that is specifically designed for feminine anatomy.


Organize


Take a moment to organize something you always say you will once you have the time to. Don’t feel like this has to be something big. If you want a big project go for it but if you want to start small that is ok too. Make yourself a place that you can keep what you need when you leave. A spot for your bag, keys, face mask, etc. Put the winter coats into storage. Vacuum bag the winter linens.


I understand this can be difficult to do till places are open to take donations though. If you are concerned with having trash bags full of items you want to donate littering your house then I would encourage you to choose an organizational project that won’t lead to that.


If you decide to do a larger purge I caution you to do so in spurts. What I mean by that is break it down into smaller tasks like 1 box a day or cut off time. It can be overwhelming to empty out a whole attic, basement, or even a closet in one go. Even more so if you are going through items that hold memories. Give yourself time to process if that is what you need. Right now you have time and you are allowed to use it.


In conclusion


Whatever you decide to do, do it because it makes you feel better. This won't be self care if you hate doing it or it makes you relive traumatic memories.

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