How to stay healthy during quarantine

Freshman 15? Try quarantine 30. 

Being stuck inside a dorm or apartment all day not only is the perfect excuse to stay away from the gym, but also keeps the sun’s serotonin-inducing rays out of reach. 

We are now coming up on the one year anniversary of the lockdown that shook up our social lives, mental health, and physical wellbeing, and while some people have taken the opportunity to glow up, others have certainly let the somber mood get them down.

It’s not always easy to cook a healthy meal or get up and start moving when the world seems to be spiralling out of control, but with vaccines on the horizon and the winter months taking the seasonal depression away, it’s time to let the sunshine back in and get that serotonin pumping.

There are two important sides to health — the mental and the physical. So if you’re struggling to make it through this pandemic in one stable piece, here’s some tips to stay healthy during quarantine.

Mental Health

Humans are not creatures of isolation. We don’t enjoy staying put for too long, or being locked away in the fairytale-esque tower until our knight in shining armor (the vaccine) comes to save us. It wears on our mental health and creates the perfect environment for depression, anxiety, and other mental problems to seep in.

One of the best ways to combat this is to actively fight against the isolation tendencies COVID-19 has created. And no, Karen, this doesn’t mean breaking CDC guidelines. Zoom, while problematic for professors who can’t figure out what a ‘breakout room’ is, is actually a great way to interact with your friends no matter where you are. Think Discord or Facetime, but magnified into one program that has monopolized the videochat market during this pandemic.

Photo by Surface on Unsplash

With the power of Zoom people can play video games, like Among Us, follow Bob Ross painting tutorials, or have a group meet-up all from the convenience of a comfy couch. Plus, when you get tired of human interaction just pretend your internet is bad— no more waiting for your friend to get done talking so she can give you a ride home, or waiting till that boring movie finishes before you bolt.

On top of the lack of human interaction, the lack of sunshine can also get to us. Sunshine is one of those natural endorphin-releasers that allows for another source of serotonin besides turning an assignment in due at midnight at 11:59 p.m. Going out, whether it be to the store, to classes, or to visit a friend, allows for some outdoor time in the sunlight. Without it, we are less inclined to get those endorphins released. Reduced sunlight already is linked to the cause of Fall and Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder (better known as seasonal depression) so by combining that with the deprivation of human interaction, it may exponentially harm people’s mental health.

One of the best ways to combat this is to go outside and take a walk. It gives you time away from Netflix or schoolwork (and let’s face it, who doesn’t want an excuse to avoid that), and allows your body to absorb that outside energy we’ve all been losing since the pandemic started.

Photo by Church of the King on Unsplash

If it seems a little daunting to do that, another option is to sit by an open window and sip on  some coffee or tea, look outside and let the sun’s rays travel  through the window. Maybe even sit at a table outside for a bit while you procrastinate whatever work you actually have to do. 

Because the great outdoors, no matter how much millennials and Gen Z deny it, are really not that bad. In fact, it’s pretty relaxing around this time of year when the bugs have all receded back to wherever they go. It’s peaceful — which is just what we all need in a time that has tested the amount of stress we can handle before reaching a breaking point. 

Physical Health

Over the course of the pandemic, social media has run rampant with “COVID-19 glow-ups.”  People have used the extra time to their advantage to get that summer body snatched. But when mental health dwindles, so does physical. And while we don’t see quite as much energy around the “glow-down” of being too depressed to get out of bed, let alone go for a run, it is still something our society is struggling with right now.

Mental health is one of the most important aspects to physical health, so if you’re struggling, I’d suggest getting your mind right and then coming back to this. But if you’re ready to put in the work, I promise it’s more fun and rewarding in the end.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Physical activity is known to be a  mood booster. Exercise releases endorphins just like the sun’s rays, and can be a healthy way to destress. Instead of trying to think of exercise as some daunting chore to check off each day, find something you enjoy doing and make it a part of your daily routine. Your muscles don’t have to be immovable from soreness, and you don’t have to be drowning in your own sweat, for it to be an effective workout.

Something I picked up during the Pandemic is TheFitnessMarshall’s dance videos. To me, they are super fun and allow me to get out a lot of pent up energy. Beyond that, I definitely learned some new moves for when it’s safe to go to the clubs again.

Everyone needs to find that workout that doesn’t feel like a workout. Not only could finding it during quarantine be an entertaining journey, but once you find it you’ll have something to add to your daily activities besides your phone and school. Physical activity will offer another outlet and escape for the insanity of what we’re living in right now.

And nobody’s glow-up needs to be some intense weight loss or muscle gain. Nobody needs to be the most positive person in the world. A real mental and physical glow up can just be feeling better about the activities your body can do, maybe lifting a box that was too heavy before, or running a minute longer than you used to be able to. It can be smiling a little more every day, laughing with friends a little longer. It’s the little victories that encourage us, and make for moments of happiness in the wake of this pandemic, that will truly get us through it.