If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it's that humans have an amazing ability to adapt. We never thought we could survive without our offices, activities, or other people, but most people have found ways to adjust. We have new routines that feature tele-commuting, video chats, regular coffees on Zoom, and telemedicine. With limited dining-out options, many people have been cooking at home and reaping the benefits of better control over salt, sugar, fat intake, and portion sizes. Others have used the time saved from sitting in traffic or waiting for the bus to engage in regular exercise and getting into nature when possible.
However, for others (especially those with tendencies to stuff down feelings with excess food), the isolation and stress may have triggered emotional eating and weight gain. Remorse, shame, and fear of being judged for our bodies as life starts to return to (relative) normalcy can throw us into a panic.
Even those who took good care of themselves during COVID-19 need to be on the lookout for potential stresses caused by reentry. There is still tremendous uncertainty about the future; we don't know what the fall will bring-new variants, pressures of in-person work, kids going back to school, and the regular grind of commuting. These are all unknowns, and the unknown can be unsettling for anyone, not just for those with food issues.
It is important to anticipate some of the challenges so that we can get ahead of the problem. Now is the time to put in place behaviors/practices to set yourself up for success in the fall. Since reentry will likely include more time in transit, we need to plan in time for healthy food preparation, exercise, and meditation. Here are some suggestions:
· Prepare your meals for the week on the weekends, so healthy food is handy
· Start regular exercise, ideally early in the morning (Walking outdoors with a pedometer can encourage you to do 10,000 steps; socially distanced classes, or free outdoor yoga or Tai Chi classes are great summertime options)
· Meditate daily. Twenty minutes before breakfast and 20 minutes before dinner are ideal. Even five minutes of paying attention to your breath can be helpful. (Check out calm.com or insighttimer.com for ideas.)
We learn from twelve-step programs the concept of one day at a time. Sometimes we need to take it one minute at a time, or one activity at a time. Most importantly, don't let the fear of not being able to do it perfectly stop you from doing what you can. A little bit of self-care, can go a long way.