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Achieving your goals in an unprecedented time: five things you can do now

It's still time to set goals in this time of extreme uncertainty. It's likely there is so much unknown at this moment in your life than ever before and that's ok.

Create certainty in a time of uncertainty.

"Many of us feel overwhelmed, upset, and anxious when faced with uncertainty. “We have a fundamental neuroanatomy that orients us toward stress in highly charged times,” explains Rich Fernandez, an expert in resilience, in an article from Harvard Business Review.

This can start an unhealthy cycle: “A symptom of distraction is more distraction. Then we feel more anxious,” says Susan David, a founder of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital.

It will benefit you to maintain routines, habits, and goals.

  1. Split your apartment or home into separate environments to support productivity, restful sleep, and family/roomate time. Your bed is for sleeping. Your couch is for relaxing. Your living room floor is for workouts. Your kitchen is for enjoying food. Your table or counter is for work. Once you've been home long enough all these spaces can begin to have the same purpose, there ends up being less boundaries, and work never feels as productive and rest never as restful. This will help your brain focus on stay on task so you're less distracted. You'll boost your sense of accomplishment and reduce stress - which in turn can help with all other areas of your day and habits, like emotional eating.

  2. Set a schedule for yourself and make it so even a child could follow it. Get up, get dressed (just out of your sleep clothes!), make your bed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth. Keep your routines because it's great for mental health and sanity. You'll be returning to that schedule at some point anyway. It's easy to let each minute roll into the next and before you know it, the day is over. My parents are retired and this is what they tell me. Take breaks for down time and really make sure to take them. Time away from your work space and projects is necessary to further benefit productivity at times you schedule to work. Each evening, write down what you want to achieve for the next day. Make it simple and just enough to feel accomplished, but make sure you know when your work day is over so you can feel accomplished and able to reset for the next day.

  3. Keep your sleeping environment clean and organized. An unorganized, messy room is found to keep people from falling asleep as quickly as an organized one. Making your bed in the morning is a simple task you can achieve to kickstart feelings of accomplishment and structure. This will also help push you to work in the other environments around your apartment or home. At night Keep electronics away from your sleeping space. Charge your phone overnight in another room or other area of your apartment. If you have a TV in your room (never a good idea as is it keeps you up later and disrupts sleep cycles), set strict screen time hours. All of your shows will be available at the touch of a button just like they always are. You want your brain to associate your bedroom with a place of calm, peacefulness, and rest. Restful sleep is one of the secret weapons to support recovery from workout and long term health.

  4. Set your intention to remain active. You likely aren't going to your gym or usual workout class and your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is lows since you're not commuting, so it'll benefit you to schedule time to get your body moving. With that said - no commute! Use the time you'd usually be on a train or in a car and take that time get moving. Walk for 1 mile each morning before you do work at home and possibly again in the afternoon after lunch. Get your workout clothes on at similar times and keep up with resistance activity by doing body weight workouts - check out Coach Joe's workouts here that you can do at home There is no perfection when it comes to moving your body. "Staying home" at a time when social distancing is important doesn't mean you can't get yourself outside and moving.

  5. Stay aware of your satiety and hunger cues. Whether you are anxious, bored, excited to have more time to yourself or you're just overall an emotional rollercoaster, it's easy to let hunger and cravings get the best of you. Remember that hunger isn't an emergency. This is a great time to become aware of your hunger and satiety cues. Which foods keep you the most full? Which foods don't? How much of this or that food does it take to keep you satisfied until the next meal? You have a lot of control in your environment right now - take stock of what you're eating by writing down what you consume over the next two days. Rate each 1-5 based on how satiating it is. Think of foods as either fast digesting or slow digesting: 1 being less filling and you're hungry soon after all the way up to 5 which would be a food that keeps you very satisfied and full until the next meal or beyond. High protein and fiber foods tend to be the most satiating, but are they the most satisfying for you? Maybe it's a combination of foods.

At this time of uncertainty we all need to take care of ourselves by finding normalcy and allowing ourselves to feel accomplished. Take the tips above an apply they them into your day as much as you see fit. If you're already doing them - help someone else!

Until this whole things is over remember to stay home, stay healthy, and keep the next person healthy.

In health,


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