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Mar 28, 2020

12 Small Ways To Take Care Of Your Physical And Mental Health Right Now

Keep calm and take care of yourself.

We've all experienced some big changes over the past few weeks. We've been isolated from friends, family, and coworkers, and are practicing social distancing and working from home. Most of our everyday outlets — from restaurants and fitness studios to nail salons and bars — have closed their doors. It's easy to feel anxious, cooped up, and hopeless right now, but there are some small and practical ways to maintain your physical and mental health. Here are a few.

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1. Add a few minutes of yoga or meditation to your daily routine.

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If you've never tried yoga or meditating, you might find that it calms you, relieves some stress, and improves your focus, even if you have just ten minutes to spare. There are a handful of apps you can download to walk you through it.

Down Dog is great for practicing yoga at home, whether you're a beginner or a serious yogi. If you're hoping to try meditating, download the Calm app, which offers hundreds of soothing and relaxing podcasts and ambient sounds to get you statred.

2. Or try baking something.

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Maybe it's the act of kneading dough, watching bread or cookies rise, or rolling a perfect pie crust, but for many people, baking can have a sort of therapeutic effect. Plus, the end result is something edible and delicious. Choose a new recipe give it a go.

You can start with something simple like homemade chocolate chip cookies and work your way up to more complicated recipes like gooey cinnamon rolls or apple crisp shortbread bars. Making bread from scratch like this crusty artisan loaf is an exercise in patience, but the instructions are actually very beginner friendly and a great way to pass time at home. If you want more recipe inspiration, order a copy of Tartine.

Order Tartine from Barnes and Noble for $36 or from Bookshop (to support local bookstores) for $36.

3. Get sweaty with an at-home fitness class.

4. Or get outside and start running.

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There's one type of physical activity that requires no fancy equipment, no membership, and no technology whatsoever: Running. With temperatures rising across the country and spring on the horizon, there's no better time to go outside and get your body moving. Whether you run for 10 minutes or 10 miles, you might find yourself seriously benefitting from some psychical activity in the fresh air.

Download Nike Run Club, a handy app that coaches and guides you through your runs, and also tracks things like distance, elevation, and calories burned.

5. Host a virtual cocktail party, book club, dinner party, or game night.

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Even if you can't physically be with friends and family right now, technology has made it easier than ever to stay connected. Use Zoom or Google Hangouts to get a group together, choose a theme for your event, and spend some virtual time together. Maybe everyone pours the same bottle of wine despite being miles apart, or perhaps you discuss a book everyone has decided to read this month.

If your group of friends loves games, there are a handful of apps like Guess The Spy (free), Scrabble Go (free), and Catan Universe (free) that everyone can download and play from different locations while video chatting.

6. Treat yourself to a day of self care.

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So you can't exactly go out for a mani/pedi or massage these days, but there are plenty of ways to indulge in a relaxing day full of self care right at home. Think about what you need right now. Maybe it's a long bath complete with a relaxing scented candle ($15 at Anthropologie) and a delicious-smelling bath soak ($32 at Anthropologie); perhaps it's spending an hour coloring or journaling; maybe it's putting on a luxurious a healing sheet mask ($6 at Sephora) or moisturizing hair mask ($38 at Sephora) and giving yourself a fresh manicure, or cooking yourself a gourmet dinner that feels like a step above the ordinary. Listen to what your body or mind might be craving and respond with a day of self care and rejuvination.

7. Stay informed, but limit your media intake.

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Coronavirus content is everywhere, and if you consume the news 24/7, you'll most likely be convinced the world is ending. While it's important to stay informed and knowledgeable about what's happening in the world and the rules and regulations that are in place in your hometown, try to limit your media intake for the sake of your mental health.

Instead of watching the news all day, start your morning or finish your evening by catching up the day's events, and be selective about where you get your news in order to reduce stress. On top of all that, make a point each day to listen to a podcast or read an article that has nothing to do with the coronavirus.

8. Start learning a new language or pick up where you left off.

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How cool would it be to come out of this strange time with a totally new, useful skill? Learning a new language requires time and practice, but there are a handful of apps that people swear by. You can learn over 30 languages on Duolingo through fun lessons and flashcards. There's also Memrise, a similar language learning app.

You may not be able to learn an entire new language in a few months, but with as little as 10 minutes of studying each day, you can certainly develop a solid foundation. So while you can't jet-set to Paris right now, you can work on your French language skills and be inspired for your next trip.

9. Check in on your mental health, and seek online therapy if you need it.

10. Teach yourself how to cook or hone your culinary skills.

11. But every once in a while, order in from a local restaurant.

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Cooking every meal at home can get quickly get monotonous. Luckily, many restaurants around the country are remaining open for takeout and delivery. Spice up your dinner routine by ordering in a meal from your favorite local spot. Pair it with a bottle of wine or an easy homemade cocktail. Not only is it a good way to spice up your nightly routine, but you'll also be supporting the restaurants that desperately need your help right now.

12. Do something you enjoy, even if it's totally mindless.

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If you're working from home during this period of social distancing, it's easy for your work life and regular life to blur into one. Take a break from your computer screen or conference calls in order to do something you enjoy, even if it's totally mindless.

Read a book that's guaranteed to make you laugh, watch a documentary, challenge your brain with a crossword puzzle, play a video game (I highly recommend downloading The Sims 4, which you can get from EA Games for $39.99), or listen to a new podcast. Carving out time in your day to do the things you enjoy is an easy way to keep your work-life balance and also keep you feeling happy and positive.