Psycho-Hygene - Staying fit during lockdown
My personal guide to stay fit during lockdown, both mentally and physically.
The year 2020 has been challenging for most people, not just the millions out of jobs, people working under much more difficult situations compared to last year, but also the hundreds of thousands confined to their living spaces during lockdown or quarantine. Humans are social animals. In our evolutionary history we’ve never been faced with a situation of such widespread isolation and containment. To stay fit mentally and physically, here’s my personal guide to keep your muscles from fatiguing and your dopamine levels high.
Eat clean / Cook more
A lot of people underestimate the value of high-quality nutrition. No need to go into studies or additional references - you know this. If you’re already doing this to your best knowledge, try to improve it nevertheless. Read some new books about balanced and healthy nutrition, take an online course, start cooking more, order less takeout. Cooking is not just a great way to eat healthier and keep your energy levels high, it’s also a good mental exercise. You work physically to produce something real that results in sensual enjoyment. It’s a great skill to have or to learn.
The benefits of meditation are usually most noticeable once you stopped your daily practice for a few days. I try to meditate for 20 mins every morning using the guided meditations provided by Sam Harris’ “Waking Up” app. Harris is an amazing teacher with a background in neurobiology. His lessons are devoid of any religious content (he’s a outspoke atheist after all, a very prominent at that). The app is extremely well designed and features a lot of great premium content, like interviews on mindfulness and different meditation courses.
You can get started for free, but I do recommend getting the subscription if you liked the first few lessons - it’s an investment in yourself after all. In case you’re a student or can’t afford the subscription, you can contact support and they will give you the membership for free - no questions asked (how great is that?).
Work out / Don’t stop working out
Gyms are closed? No problem. There are plenty of ways to stay fit within your confinement. Keeping your body healthy will help keep your mind healthy.
A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me to give him a fitness plan, that would give him the best looking abs in the shortest time possible. This is what I came up with: Get Ripped In 3 Weeks
The program features dozens of exercises that are suited for a home workout, as well as some general tips regarding fitness and nutrition.
Consume less social media
We’re just at the beginning of understanding the harmful effects of social media on brain development and neurogenesis.
Barely a decade has passed since the introduction of mainstream social media to all age groups, and we’re starting to see some films and documentaries (Men, Women & Children, The Social Dilemma, just to name a few) addressing the massive impact it makes on our daily lives.
I recently read a book about social media habit formation and dopamine addiction. The experiences described and studies referenced made me aware of the problem at a whole new level.
Although it might be even more difficult than usual, being stuck in your apartment after all, to quit or work on these habits, it will be well worth the effort. I can personally attest what huge difference a few small adjustments to your daily conduct can have.
For example, I always have my phone in “Do not disturb mode”, so my phone cannot reach me, hence it remains a tool for my use - not the other way around (a way for social media companies to grab my attention). The advantages (peace of mind, much less distraction, less breaking of concentration) much outweigh the disadvantages (sometimes missing a call or a message).
Read more / learn a new skill
One of the most grueling aspects of working from home or just being stuck in isolation, is the sheer repetitiveness of it. To counter this, you should actively seek to develop and challenge your mind.
You need mental stimulation in order to stay happy. Analogous to the topic of nutrition, Tik Tok or Reddit are very simple stimulation, processed sugars - they make you hyped instantly, then empty and sad after a short while. You need complex simulation in order to keep your mind sustainably happy and balanced.
Some activities I already mentioned above, like meditation or exercise, are a great way to achieve this. Others can be reading, cross-word puzzles and the like or creative output like practicing an instrument, painting or writing.
Particularly reading had a deeply transformative effect on me. Reading books on political theory and economics gives me a better way of understanding what the media and economic news outlets are narrating, reading books on personal development or psychology help me understand myself and my social environment better, books on philosophy help me find meaning and transcendence. Novels can be a great guide as well. They offer you the chance of reliving the fictional experiences of other people. There’s only so many experiences you can have in real life after all.
You can find an almost infinite amount of creative and educational content online to acquire a new skill, regardless if it’s for career or personal development. Put the time you save on commuting to better use. Soon the world will go back to normal, you should use the change of pace to your advantage.