Good gracious, is it really October already?
Honestly, I don’t know about you, but 2020 simultaneously feels like the fastest and the slowest year. It feels unreal that it’s been six months since we were all placed under quarantine in the Philippines. All the other months since March have somehow smooshed together in my head. The days somehow feel the same too.
And yet, it’s been six months. That’s a long time to be under national house arrest, even for WFH introverts like me and my colleagues.
So, if you’ve been feeling out of sorts, you’re not alone. Also, there’s a scientific explanation behind pretty much all of us feeling that way too. Read on and find out what half a year’s worth of homebound isolation does to your body and mind.
1. Diminished sleep.
It’s not just anxiety that’s keeping us up late at night. Staying indoors with the curtains drawn is another factor?
Why? It’s quite simple. Our bodies need to get sunlight in the mornings to synchronize its circadian rhythms. These dictate when we feel hungry or sleepy, and being shut in most of the time can confuse our body clocks, making it harder to fall asleep at the right time.
Exercising, doing yard work, or any other activity that gets you out into the sun in the mornings helps. If this isn’t possible, an artificial bright light ought to suffice. Avoiding blue light in the evenings before sleep is great too.
2. Poorer posture.
Sitting down all day isn’t good for you. This makes it more likely for us to subconsciously sink into a default position. You’re probably doing it now. Shoulders slumped, spine curled, neck bent – you know the drill.
This can negatively affect your posture and strain your neck, shoulders, back, hips, and eyes. To prevent this, try getting up and stretching at least once every hour. You can also lie on the floor occasionally to let your back readjust.
3. Weight gain.
Being at home all day and with easy access to your pantry is a blessing, yes. Especially when so many people are starving and have no idea where the next meal will come from.
However, this can also be a recipe for disaster. It’s far too easy to fall into excessive snacking when you’re cooped up all day and are anxious and/or bored. And who hasn’t been either or both throughout 2020?
Weight gain during times of unusually high stress is normal. What you should look out for is obesity, which brings with it a whole host of health problems. For one thing, it can put you at risk for chronic health illnesses like diabetes.
So, the next time you find yourself wandering into your pantry on a work break, ask yourself if you’re really hungry. If the answer is no, find something else to do that doesn’t involve eating.
4. Muscle loss.
Since all the gyms are closed and it’s riskier even for those with personal trainers to have them over, maintaining a fitness regimen is more challenging these days. That first week of rest might have felt relaxing and even necessary. Sadly, going beyond that can undo your hard-won progress.
Apparently, it takes only one week of inactivity to lose muscle mass that took a month to build. Furthermore, we lose muscle much more quickly the older we get.
It’s not so much about losing bulk more than it is about losing strength. The stronger we stay, the more likely we are to live long. Thus, regular, weekly exercise is a must to maintain good health. The fitter body that results is merely a bonus.
5. Weaker heart and lungs.
Speaking of the adverse effects of inactivity, a weaker heart and lungs is another thing to watch out for. Without regular exercise, your heart won’t pump as hard and will thus get weaker. The same goes for your lungs, particularly its breathing function.
There is no single medication that can fix any of that. Exercise is pretty much the only sensible solution. Fortunately, you can still sweat it out even without a home gym. Simply turn up your favorite music and dance away for half an hour, or work on your push-up daily.
6. Slower brain functions.
If you’re still not convinced that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for you, here’s the clincher. Exercise produces certain brain chemicals that break down blood toxins. This activity is critical to killing the toxins before they can get to your brain and kill your brain cells.
Simply put, no exercise means slower thinking. That’s bad news for any remote work warrior who wants to get anything done.
No one really knows when this pandemic will end, much less when quarantine restrictions will ease up. In the meantime, we should still be cautious. Harsh as it sounds, we should largely keep to our homes until a cure or vaccine emerges.
In the meantime, let’s do our best to keep our bodies healthy. That means eating right, exercising regularly, and taking mental health breaks as needed.
Got any tips for staying sane and fit while in quarantine? Tell us all about it below!