The stress is getting real, for both you and your kids. Here are 5 ideas to get your heart rates up and keep cortisol levels down.
I had no idea how quickly the mental and emotional strain of this extended isolation would start wearing on me and my kids, but now that it’s clear just how crippling it can, our mental and emotional stability has become my first priority. And that means finding ways to stay active — really active. Playing in the driveway and taking walks aren’t going to cut it — we need sustained, high-intensity activity on a daily basis to regulate our cortisol levels.
But how do you do that when you’re stuck at home? I’m SO glad you asked! Here are my top 5 ways to ramp up your family’s activity level and keep the stress and anxiety of quarantine at bay.
You guys. Freeze tag is legit. At one group fitness session I taught last year, I ended with a game of freeze tag as a “fun finisher” and let’s just say the fun factor was not as high as I’d anticipated. They were gassed. That 5-minute game had their heart rates higher than the whole rest of the workout, but they were able to sustain it because it was a game! The challenge, competition, and sheer childishness of freeze tag is a fantastic way to get a quick HIIT workout and create fun memories for your kids to look back on. If your yard space is limited or you live in an apartment, take a walk to the nearest park — or take advantage of all those empty parking lots! Remember, social distancing does not mean in-home isolation. Get outside and move!
2Learn a new skill
Most fitness professionals are moving to an online format during this time, and many of those classes are being offered for free during the next few weeks. Take advantage of this and let your kids each pick a new athletic skill to learn! I’m thinking more in the realm of individual athletics here — a quarantine isn’t the best time to learn soccer, obviously. But my oldest daughter has started doing video-training sessions with a cheerleading coach, and she comes back in dripping sweat. There are free online tutorials for various martial arts, gymnastics, even track trills for events like long and triple jump. Your littles might need your help, so why not learn along with them? Have an athletic adventure for the next few weeks, and who knows? Maybe when life goes back to normal, your kids will have discovered new passions.
Ready or not, we’re all homeschoolers now! Luckily your children’s schools will be doing most of the lesson planning and executing through technology, but we’re still in charging of executing the schedule in our new reality. So build in an hour (or three) for that all-important school favorite … recess! Plan a new activity for each day — and when I say “plan,” I’m not talking about pinteresting “ideas for homeschool recess.” None of us need that type of stress right now! Keep it simple — anything from Nerf gun battles to jump rope contests will keep your kids engaged and get all your hearts pumping!
4Yard and house work
Since we’re stuck at home, why not kill two birds with one stone? Dedicate a sunny day to mowing, edging, trimming hedges, pulling weeds and generally taking care of your lawn. Even toddlers can help with weed-pulling, and this is the perfect opportunity to delight your teenager by teaching them to wield power trimmers and lawnmowers! Trust me — as the resident hedge-trimmer, yard work is definitely physically demanding. If you don’t have a yard, do some home maintenance instead — repaint shutters, clean high shelves and windows … heck, let your kids choose new paint colors for their rooms and get busy. It’ll break up the monotony and will give you all a little bit of change to add some variety to your days.
5Fill your cup
Last but definitely not least, make sure you’re giving yourself some active me-time. Since I can’t go to the gym, my barbell therapy is sadly on hiatus — so I started running again. Y’all, I hate running. I haven’t run regularly in years, so I wasn’t exactly excited about this change. But honestly, it’s been more peaceful and less torturous than I remembered. I forgot how therapeutic running is, how it gives your mind a chance to check out and focus on just this step, then the next. On the days I haven’t run I’ve been more stressed, frazzled, and short-tempered with my kids, so running is now an absolute essential. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s selfish to set aside some time to be active on your own, whether it’s running or walking or even stretching — you can’t pour into your family with an empty cup. Keep yours full, and theirs will be, too.
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