Whether or not we realize it, our normal day-to-day lives are filled with standard work hours and mandatory tasks, family obligations and reoccurring extracurricular events that keep us in some sort of a routine. While some of these components may still be intact and consistent during these uncertain times, there is likely a loss of structure that comes with working from home, kiddos out of school and loss of social and extracurricular events outside of the house.
With this loss of structure, consistent exercise and healthful nutrition habits are likely some of the first elements to go by the way side, which is unfortunate considering how important each of these factors is for your physical and mental well being. As you settle into our foreseeable new “normal”, use these tips to maintain a routine that can help maximize your health and productivity.
Make a plan: Each night think through what you are going to do the next day and write it out. Assign time frames to each task to keep you on track and include your exercise, meals, snacks and preparation and cooking time when thinking through your daily to-do list. Assigning structure to the day can help you be more productive, accomplish more tasks and avoid stress that may otherwise arise from poorly planned days.
Take time to plan your meals: The grocery store an be a bit of a zoo right now, but head to the store with a list and plan for what you will be preparing over the next several days. Keep recipes simple and choose those in which foods can easily be swapped. For example, if you’d like salmon, brown rice and broccoli for dinner one night, be open to swapping the fish for another lean protein, like chicken or tofu. If the rice is gone, pick up some quinoa, and choose whatever fresh of frozen veggies are accessible as the store.
Convenience items can help: If the thought of choosing recipes and navigating alternative options as the store feels overwhelming, allow convenience items to fill in the gaps. Products like frozen or refrigerated ready-to-eat meals from the store may be helpful. Also check out Splendid Spoon plant-based smoothies, soups and grain bowls that are delivered straight to your door (use that link for $25 off select plans!). This option can alleviate the stress associated with meal planning and keep you eating high quality food.
Don’t graze: While you don’t have to worry about the temptation of office candy bowls right now, you likely have a pantry full of snacks calling your name. To avoid extra visits to the pantry, portion out your planned snacks and set them aside in an area of the kitchen away from the tempting foods. This way you can grab your snack and move on with your day instead of grazing through the endless options elsewhere in the kitchen. A pre portioned lunch ready to grab-and-eat may be helpful too. The more decision you can take out of the equation during a stressful day, the better.
While these tips may not solve all of your stressors or challenges right now, hopefully it provides you a template to build some routine amongst these days with quickly changing recommendations and expectation.
Melissa is a registered dietitian living and working in NYC for over a decade. While she is a dietitian by profession, Melissa believes that being healthy does not just mean from a dietary perspective. To her, health encompasses eating nutritious foods, exercising, and balancing mental well-being.