As many of us head into week seven, I mean eight, (who even knows any more) of quarantine, you may have begun to experience some changes. I am not talking about the obvious changes like at-home workouts, online grocery shopping and virtual happy hours with family and friends, I am referring to the more subtle changes that may not be as noticeable. Things like body composition, hormonal fluctuations and sleep patterns.
Here are five of the most common changes you may be experiencing during quarantine.
#1 Changes in Body Composition
Many of us have traded in our daily sweat sessions at the gym for at-home workouts in the friendly confines of our very own living rooms. Although it’s important to have grace with ourselves as our bodies adjust to this new normal, there are a few things you can do right now so you don’t backtrack on your already-made progress.
Julia Holl, FRC Mobility Specialist and former coach at Ethos Training Chicago, explains that strength and aerobic capacity don’t diminish that much after 30 days, especially when you are still remaining active. Power, however, will decrease faster, which is why it’s important to add in some more challenging, power-focused movements to your at-home workouts. Think of movements like plyo lunges, long jumps, skaters and squat jumps.
It’s also important to continue to consume adequate amounts of protein-rich foods post workout and throughout the day to help maintain muscle mass.
#2 Changes in Creativity
During quarantine, many creative professionals may find themselves feeling less than inspired, especially those who draw inspiration from new surroundings and travel. This creative block can cause frustration and stress, which can account for an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol. Sadi Khan, Mental Health Research Analyst at Run Repeat explains that chronic stress decreases the essential neurogenesis required for better executive function, creative thinking and resilience.
#3 Changes in Eating Habits and Digestion
During uncertain times, many of us may turn to food for comfort. Whether you stress eat or find yourself eating less because of stress, it’s completely normal to experience changes in your daily diet during stressful times, which includes quarantine.
While you place all of your online grocery orders, make sure you are selecting some good for you food options that will help you feel your best. Trista Best, MPH, RD and LD says focusing on a nutrient-dense diet during quarantine, or any time of year, can lead to healthy weight loss, improved mood and mental clarity, while low nutrient, high calorie food choices can lead to a decreased immune system, fatigue, mood disorders and weight gain.
Lisa Richards, author of The Candida Diet, further explains that not eating a balanced diet and snacking on high sugar foods and refined carbohydrates can really wreak havoc on our digestive systems. Processed snack foods can lead to inflammation and bacterial overgrowth in the gut and when the gut is out of balance, the immune system is directly impacted. All the more reason to focus on whole food meals and snacks!
#4 Changes in Hormones
Stress and sudden shifts in daily schedules can lead to shifts in hormones, especially among females, which can lead to irregular period cycles. Many factors can affect your monthly cycle including changes in diet, fitness level, medicines and/or prescriptions, sleep, stress and weight gain and/or loss.
Bottom line: Changes in almost anything and everything that you experience while in quarantine can lead to fluctuations in hormones. Stressing about your hormone health can also affect your hormone health, so do your best to shift your focus and don’t stress yourself, or your hormones, out even more.
#5 Changes in Sleep
I don’t know about you, but I am enjoying clocking some more hours of quality sleep each night. However, I have noticed it’s super simple to fall into a pattern of clocking too much sleep.
Is there really such a thing? Unfortunately there is. According to Nutritionist Vasundhara Agrawal, making up for all of those sleepless nights can be a good thing as we need 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night for the body to properly repair itself, but too much sleep can make us feel groggy and lethargic the next day. Use this time to improve your current sleep habits or develop a sleep routine and as tempting as it may be to linger in bed in the mornings, stick to a normal sleep schedule as much as possible. Your future self will thank you.
Change Can Be Good
Even though there are changes all around us, change can be a good thing. Right now, more than ever, people are open to trying new things and are working more collaboratively than ever before. People are learning new stress management techniques like breathing exercises, connecting with family and friends virtually, meditation, nature walks and yoga practices, all of which they can take with them into the future. Families are getting back to home cooking and eating together, while others are being introduced to new ways of working out and trying activities they have never tried before.
Although you may be experiencing some of these common changes right now, know these changes are incredibly common and completely expected during a time like this. Give yourself some grace and take it one day at a time. As you have heard many times by now, we are all in this together!
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