Folks, let’s face it. It’s best to stay at home these days. Yes; businesses may be starting to reopen, but many are also quickly being shut down.
As many of us have experienced, self-isolation can have deleterious effects on both our physical and mental health. The two often are symbiotic (go hand-in-hand).
Here’s how. Stress-eating can stem from anxiety related to increased levels of cortisol. Cortisol is released by the body’s adrenal glands during any stress situation including the fight-or-flight response and can remain elevated. Cortisol can cause cravings for fat, sugar and salt, which puts the body in preparation mode for quick reaction to a potentially harmful event. Giving into these cravings can lead to what has been aptly named “The Quarantine 15” – referring to a fifteen pound weight gain!
Stress and weight gain can negatively impact your immune system. If you unfortunately do contract coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that can lead to COVID-19 disease – an immunocompromised state will disarm your body’s defenses against the virus and put you at more risk for the symptoms.
During our times at home, we realized how certain items or activities actually became essential to maintain health as well as being inexpensive. Your companion dogs and cats are an important part of this stress relief.
Keep a schedule
Get up at the same time and go to bed at the same time. Keep your morning routine. Companion dogs and cats are great for this as they will generally remind us when it is time to eat or go outside.
Use a kitchen scale
Coronavirus has definitely disrupted the food supply chain with meat processing plants being rightfully (if not belatedly) closed to protect the health of workers, which in turn led to stores curtailing the amount of meat a household could buy in a trip.
To do your part in reducing the demand on the food supply chain and maintain a healthy weight, weigh your food. Remember, the daily recommendation of protein for most people is between five and six ounces. Most chicken breasts are between six and eight ounces. Considering that most of us eat protein more than once per day, one chicken breast can give you two individual meals. If you have precooked leftovers, refrigerate or freeze the other half for the next meal.
- Use a clean and dry paper towel to wipe off excess bacteria on raw meats;
- Use a cutting board designated for meat;
- Clean and disinfect countertop surfaces before and after meal prep; and,
- Wash your hands for twenty seconds with soap before and after.
The average price of a kitchen scale is around $20.00 USD.
Get a stability ball
Stability balls – also known as balance balls, exercise balls, Swiss balls, physioballs or fit balls – help stimulate and activate core muscles to improve posture, stability and balance, as well as strengthen muscles. The best part is many people at all exercise levels can use a stability ball to various extents.
Stability balls can range in price from $5.00 to $30.00. The important thing is to get the right size for your height.
If your companion dog wants to participate to your consternation, you can work on place training.
Resistance bands are another viable option for strength training. They tend to be sold in a set due to band resistance levels – thus increasing the price. In general, we found the prices to be between $15 – 50 dollars on average.
Walk your companion dog for aerobic exercise
This might seem counterintuitive to the concept of staying home. We do know that being outdoors reduces the risk of coronavirus transmission.
Then why are beaches and lakefronts remaining or being closed, you ask? The key there is the concentration and number of people. Yes; being outdoors lowers your risk of contracting the virus, but does not eliminate the risk. The important factor here is the concentration of people around you.
One person admitted she would walk her companion dog up to three times a day to maintain a schedule and up to five miles per day when her gym is closed. Now that it is getting warmer out and her companion dog is prone to heat exhaustion, they walk for about one or two miles as the sun comes up and when it tends to be cooler.
So, yes, walk your dog around your neighborhood. If other people or animals are nearby, wear a mask, always walk your dog on a leash, maintain at least six feet from other people and animals, and do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
Spin your salad
Bagged lettuce is being recalled again in several states, but not because of the usual E. coli bacteria outbreaks. Now, the culprit is Cyclospora, a parasite that causes diarrhea. This recall has led to hospitalizations.
No matter the reasons why bagged lettuce is being recalled, it degrades faster into a gooey mess and is pricier than whole lettuce.
A salad spinner, on the other hand, tends to keep lettuce fresher and usually costs $30.00.
Install a water filtration system
We don’t really understand why consumers cleared store shelves of bottled water. This is a pandemic – not a hurricane or wildfire. Granted, if you live in an area prone to natural disasters, you should keep an emergency stockpile of bottled water on hand.
However, disposable plastic water bottles harm the environment. Even the transport of bottled water is harmful to the environment.
A simple water filter that attaches to the faucet is generally $30.00. Plus, you can give your companion dog or cat the filtered water for their health.
Admit it: swinging is fun. So, find your inner child!
A swing set can be an investment. A swing seat, though, can be attached to a tree limb.
In addition to being downright fun, swinging burns calories and strengthens core and leg muscles.
We found the price to be approximately $50.00.
Enjoy your yard
Think about everything else you can do in your yard on top of swinging. You can:
- Mow your lawn
- Lounge in a small inflatable pool
- Toss the ball with your companion dog
- Get a slip and slide
Discover new hobbies
These activities are not necessarily new, but help keep us mentally fit and occupied to prevent increased cortisol levels.
- Board or card games
- Candle making
- Craft cat toys out of toilet paper rolls
- Crossword puzzles
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Learn an instrument
- Make pet treats
- Teach your companion dog tricks
- Train your companion dog
Most importantly, stay in touch with family and friends!