Last updated March 30, 2020

During the novel coronavirus pandemic, people throughout the U.S. are getting used to the phrase “shelter in place.” Social distancing is redefining our lives in unprecedented ways.

Many of us are converting our homes into workspaces and fitness centers for anywhere from 14 to 45 days. How do we stay emotionally as well as physically healthy while we’re working to help flatten the curve of this outbreak? First and foremost: By being kind to ourselves. We’re navigating a whole new world, learning and coping as we go.

Give yourself permission to do things differently than usual. Here are a few suggestions:

Exercise and wellness

  • Get up and move! If you’re used to working out, replace gym equipment with hand weights and exercise bands. Swap your personal trainer for a pedometer, online workout class, or an exercise app. If you’re not big on moving, try stretching, walking, or beginner yoga.
  • Take mindfulness breaks. For every hour that you’re working, give yourself two to five minutes just to relax, stand up, massage your neck and shoulders, and b-r-e-a-t-h-e.
  • Don’t binge on news. While staying abreast of the pandemic is important, resist the temptation to read your news feed—or have the TV tuned to a news station—all day. Limit yourself to 15 minutes two or three times a day.
  • Remember your meds. If you take medication regularly, get 90-day prescriptions from your primary care physician. You can also arrange delivery by mail with your favorite pharmacy.

Eating and drinking

  • Drink lots of water. Keep a water bottle handy and drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. If you’re not in the water-drinking habit, try setting a “drink water” alarm at the top of each hour during the daytime.
  • Eat intentionally. Since you may be more sedentary than usual, don’t be surprised if your weight creeps upward. To combat it, try not to chomp mindlessly when snacking. Pour a handful of treats onto a napkin or small plate instead of sticking your hand into the bag.
  • Order groceries online. You can even get fresh fruits, veggies, and meats delivered to your door.
  • Try something new. Pull out that Instant Pot you got three years ago but haven’t used. Or how about making sweet potato fries with an air fryer?
  • Practice meal prepping. Waltzing into the kitchen to make a quick bite can quickly morph into an all-day affair. Packaging snacks and meals into single servings can save time.
  • Do the switcheroo. Hankering for that candy bar from the vending machine at 3 p.m. every day? Try an apple and a handful of almonds. Instead of a 500-calorie designer coffee, brew some tea and add honey and skim milk.

Staying connected

  • Ward off isolation. Check in often with family members, neighbors, and others in your social circle. Reach out to someone every day.
  • Virtually socialize. Hold group video calls and set up group texts and chats with co-workers, friends, and relatives.

Maintaining your schedule

Sticking to a schedule, especially if you’re not accustomed to working from home, is the key to staying productive. It’s waaay too easy to fall down a rabbit hole and waste hours on household chores and one cat video too many.

  • Sleep. Go to bed at the same time every day. Try not to watch or read news or use light-emitting electronic devices before bedtime. When you get up, make your bed to help you resist a midday nap.
  • Get dressed. Leave the bed—and your pajamas—when you wake up.
  • Plan for a work-life balance. It’s easier than you can imagine to put in 12 to 16 hours a day when working from home. Set a “clocking in” and quitting time.
  • Track your exercise time. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. And do go outside and get some fresh air when you can. Just remember to practice social distancing.

Having constructive fun

  • Stay busy the low-tech way. Give your cell phone, laptop, and tablet a rest. Pick up a paper book, work a jigsaw puzzle, discover the art of adult coloring books.
  • Listen to music. While you’re working, play uplifting music softly throughout the house.
  • Handle your office honey-do’s. Think of the housekeeping tasks you can never get to—deleting emails, organizing cloud files.
  • Tackle a DIY project. Pull weeds, plant flowers, repot a plant, paint a room, rearrange furniture, start spring cleaning (even if you can only handle one closet, drawer, or box at a time).
  • Capture this experience. Express yourself and your feelings by journaling, blogging, taking photos, or even painting.
  • Learn something new. Use online tutorials to teach yourself a skill, whether it’s work-related or a creative endeavor such as playing guitar.

We hope these suggestions are helpful. If you’re quarantined or on lockdown with family or roommates, or you’re worried about a child at school or loved ones in another state, read our at home and healthy blog post for tips to help you keep everyone safe and happy. You can rely on Teladoc to do everything we can to help you stay healthy during this pandemic. We’re in this together.

This portion of the Teladoc website occasionally offers health, fitness, and nutritional information and is provided for educational purposes only. You cannot rely on any information provided here as a substitute for or replacement of professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Teladoc cannot assure that the information contained on this site always includes the most recent findings or developments with respect to the particular subject matter covered.

If you ever have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. Do not disregard, avoid, or delay obtaining medical or health-related advice from your healthcare professional because of something you may have read on this site. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.

If you are in the United States and think you are having a medical or health emergency, call your healthcare professional, or 911, immediately.

The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving. While we are continuously reviewing and updating our content, some of the information in this article may not reflect the most up-to-date scientific information. Please visit the online resources provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and your local public health department to stay informed on the latest news, or reach out to Teladoc to speak with one of our board-certified physicians.