The Dark Days Ahead
I truly don’t know where the month went, but here we are on the last Workout Wednesday of October. Election Day is only six days away. In three nights, we turn the clocks back for the end of Daylight Saving time. And every day, I see the alarming statistics and hear stories that prove we’re nowhere near the end of struggling with a pandemic. While I’ve always considered myself an upbeat and optimistic person, 2020 continues to put us all to the test on just how much we can take.
In an effort to focus on the positive, I’d like to turn your attention to a crucial element in our health and wellness routine: self-care. I realize some of you are smirking and thinking, “Sure, Laura, and just when would you like me to fit that into my schedule?” Well, my repeat readers know when it comes to fitness, I’ve always believed 10 minutes of exercise is better than zero. The same can be said for finding moments of me-time -which may be more important than ever.
Here are a five things you can do in 10 minutes or less to de-stress:
- Leave your computer/work station and go into a different room for a change of scenery. (Close the door for extra solitude if you can.) If you have access to outdoor space, step outside for some fresh air.
- Make a cup of tea.
- Practice deep breathing / meditate.
- Eat some dark chocolate.
Just so you know, I’m making more of an effort to follow my own advice as I continue my work as a contact monitor for the Test & Trace Corps. (My colleagues and I get two 15-minute breaks and a half-hour for lunch during our shifts.) The number of cases is on the rise again in New York City and our call volumes have increased in recent weeks. Each day, we hear stories from our fellow New Yorkers different in age, gender, race and creed – but many share the same fears and frustrations. So many parents, teachers and students feel overwhelmed as they struggle to navigate this unprecedented school year. Healthcare workers continue their tireless efforts to care for the sick and worry about bringing anything home to their own families. Essential workers grind through their shifts and remote workers miss the socialization of office life. And many of our city’s seniors are scared and lonely, and need ongoing assistance with necessities including food and medication. After listening to these often emotional stories almost daily for the past 14 weeks, I’ve learned if don’t make time to shut off my mind for even just a few moments during the day, sleeping at night will be nearly impossible.
Meanwhile, I miss my extended family and friends and find myself feeling sad about the strange holiday season ahead. My hope is that each of us find one or two things that give us some peace and comfort throughout the darker, colder days ahead. For me, that means buying some warmer workout gear to keep up my running efforts as the days get colder and incorporating more mini-moments of Zen into the day.
I also encourage everyone to strive to follow a healthy diet, bundle up for those outdoor exercise plans, wash your hands often and of course, wear a mask! Here’s to getting a game plan in place for the new month ahead and hopefully finding more than just a few moments to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
If you’re finding it hard to be inspired on this Motivation Monday, you’re not alone. Blame it on the one thing most of us simply can’t escape: the end of Daylight Saving Time.
Even though we just wrapped up a week of ridiculously warm November temperatures here in New York, the one normal thing that took place each day was the disarming loss of sunlight before 6 pm. We’ve started the time of year when many of us leave home each morning in the dark only to leave work at the end of a long day and find ourselves enveloped in darkness once again. Add the inevitable drop in temperatures looming in the days ahead, and you have the perfect mix to want to ditch any exercise plans and head straight for the cozy couch.
So, I thought it was a good time to offer a few tips to help you stay on track this season:
- Do NOT Leave Home Without the Workout Wear: If you normally exercise after work, make sure to bring your gym bag to the office. If you have to go home to change before your workout, you’ll only find yourself face-to-face with that comfy couch tempting you to take a load off – and stay there.
- Get Physical at Lunchtime: If you usually hit the gym before heading to the office or after dropping the kids off for school, why not consider moving your workout to lunchtime? Even under a cloudy sky, it’s brighter at midday. Sometimes that’s all you need to get your butt into the gym. It’s also the perfect time to see if that group exercise class you’ve been curious about is offered at lunchtime.
- Make More Workout Dates: Plan to meet a friend for that morning power walk, lunchtime body conditioning or evening barre workout. Wanting to avoid the “guilt” of standing up a friend can keep you committed to your scheduled exercise plans.
I leave you with this final tip: remembering how good you feel after a workout may provide the biggest incentive to stick with your routine even on the darkest days ahead. Never underestimate the power of that post-exercise endorphin rush as you continue on your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!