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A Routine to Help You Stay Healthy (and Sane) While You’re Stuck at Home

by Samantha Cassetty, RD

All around the globe, people are gravely concerned about the fast-spreading coronavirus. Many of us are stuck at home, isolated from friends and loved ones, worried about our food supply, our health, our finances. We’re dealing with an ever-changing environment and massive disruptions to everyday life as we know it. This new reality will have a heavy impact on many people’s lives, not to mention their health routines. But this is a time to take a step back and reflect — and think creatively about how to manage your health and well-being under tricky circumstances.

You may not be able to eat the rainbow at every meal or keep up with your regular cardio routine while practicing social distancing. There are, however, many ways to stay healthy at home. To the degree that it’s possible, eating nourishing foods, participating in daily physical activity and maintaining relaxation practices can do wonders for your mindset, your immune function and your general well-being. Here are some tips for keeping it together while you and your family are holed up at home.

1. Focus on creating balanced meals

This isn’t an ideal situation so flexibility is required. Do your best to create balanced meals with what’s available. Aim for a generous portion of produce (whether fresh, dried, frozen or canned), some protein, healthy fats and quality carbs, ideally in the form of starchy veggies (like potatoes, sweet potatoes and butternut squash) or whole grains.

You can check out this complete list of what to stock when you’re at home with coronavirus to get a sense of the foods you should try to keep on hand. Though it’s smart to have enough food to last a while, it’s not a good idea to panic shop or hoard groceries. We’re all in this together!

2. Make meal prep part of your daily routine

Though spending more time at home may give you more time to cook, having a solid meal prep strategy can make it easier to get through your extended stay. Start using your fresh ingredients, such as fresh meats, poultry, seafood and fruits and veggies before moving on to longer-lasting frozen and shelf-stable items. You can also use shelf-stable foods to help stretch meals made with fresh ingredients. For example:

  • Make tacos using a mix of beans and ground meat or poultry. This will help serve more eaters — or help you serve more meals out of a single batch.
  • Whip up bean purees (like white beans with garlic) to serve alongside chicken and fish dishes. Since these sides contain protein, you can use a smaller portion of your main dish to help ensure there are leftovers.
  • Stir beans into soups and sautéed greens to serve as a filling main or protein-boosting side dish.
  • Accent meals with nutrient-rich nuts and seeds. They’re not only delicious, but they pack protein, fiber and other health-supporting substances — and they’re easy to store.

And remember, now’s not the time to shun carbs! Whole grains, pasta and fortified cereals can be part of a filling, balanced meal. Incorporating them into your dishes will give you more variety, plus dry products like these stay shelf-stable for a long time. Here are some ideas to spark your inner chef:

  • Have a bowl of whole grain, low- (or no-) sugar cereal with dairy or an unsweetened plant-based milk. Add sliced apple or pear (these fresh fruits will last a while in your kitchen too) or some frozen berries. Top with nuts or seeds. On a different morning, make this with yogurt instead of milk.
  • Have a bowl of oatmeal sweetened with cinnamon and vanilla extract along with fresh, canned or frozen produce for breakfast one morning. Oatmeal can also be used as a savory side dish. Mix it with green peas (they’ll add protein and fiber) and serve it alongside eggs, vegetable soup or another entrée.
  • Mix pasta with canned tuna, fresh, frozen or canned veggies (such as green beans or tomatoes) and olives one night. Another night, you can use edamame or white beans to add protein and more fiber to your pasta and veggies.
  • Use quinoa or brown rice as a base for grain bowls and stir fries. Both grains can also be used as a warm cereal.

3. Make room for snacks and comfort foods

When you’re doing your shopping, don’t forget the snacks and fun foods! Fewer social interactions is likely to mean more screen time and more family activities. Snacks can add extra nourishment throughout the day, while fun foods can help keep your family’s spirits up! And remember, baking can be a great family activity that also provides extra treats to nosh on.

Preparing your favorite comfort foods can help bring back cozy memories and make you feel good. Keep ingredients handy so you can break up your dinner routine with lighter versions of classic comfort food dishes.

If you’re able to order in or pick up prepared food, consider making it part of your meal-planning approach. Not only will it help infuse cash into local businesses, but taking a break from the tasks of cooking and cleaning can very much fall under the category of self-care. At this time, many delivery services are offering contactless delivery.

4. Line up activities to avoid stress eating

One of the struggles when working from home is the constant boredom grazing you might partake in. There’s also the fact that the heightened stress can trigger emotional eating. It’s totally natural to reach for food to provide comfort during these challenging and uncertain times. And while it’s okay to lean on food sometimes, it’s also important to find other ways to cope. Here are some options

  • Set up a virtual therapy session
    • Many licensed social workers and psychologists offer their services online. An app, like TalkSpace, has a lot of support built into its plans, including special programs to help you handle COVID-19 stress.
  • Curl up under a weighted blanket
    • If you’re missing physical contact, you might get some comfort from a weighted blanket, like this highly rated one from Luxome. Studies suggest weighted blankets can help ease anxiety and contribute to feelings of calmness.
  • Try a short meditation.
    • If you’re bored at your home desk, plug in your ear buds and listen to a quick guided meditation to stay centered. In addition to reducing anxiety and depression, practicing mindful meditation has been shown to help curb impulse eating. Insight Timer is a free app that offers a full library of guided meditations. Use Insight’s search tool to find a meditation that meets your time requirements (as short as one minute) and addresses your need state (sleep, stress, overeating).
  • Practice gratitude.
    • This coronavirus pandemic is a very overwhelming situation, but we all have things to be grateful for. Maybe you’re grateful that your family is healthy, you have a comfortable space where you can hunker down or you just had a warm meal. Studies show that meditating on gratitude can impact the pathways in our brains that promote positivity. A positive mindset has also been linked with healthier eating.
  • Work on a puzzle.
    • Not only does this serve as an alternative to food, but it’s also a fun family activity to do while you’re stuck at home. One with a pretty outdoor view, such as this serene beach scene, might be just the distraction you need.
  • Color. 
    • Studies suggest that redirecting your attention to a soothing activity like coloring may help lessen anxiety. Try an adult coloring book like this one from Intricate Ink.

5. Make time (and space) to work out every day

Finding ways to stay active is good for your physical and mental health. If you have open space — a yard, a park, a safe sidewalk — where you can keep a safe distance from others, consider taking a walk when the sun is shining. A bike ride is another great activity that doesn’t involve any invasion of personal space. If in-person yoga classes or the gym is off-limits for the time being, you can supplement with at-home workouts. Here are a few ideas for staying fit in a confined space. Though most of these are paid apps, some offer free or reduced-price trials.

  • Planet Fitness is now offering daily free fitness classes that are being live-streamed on its Facebook page. Each class will be a maximum of 20 minutes. All you need is an account — no equipment required.
  • Pilates anytime offers mat Pilates and some barre-style classes that you can do from the comfort of your living room. Classes can be sorted by time and ability.
  • Aaptiv has an assortment of activities that are set to music. If you’re going outside for a run or walk, you can use this tool to stay motivated and keep up your pace. It also offers other workouts, like yoga and strength training.
  • Daily Burn is a great option if you love group workouts. You can pick from a number of styles. Alternatively, if you prefer to go solo, there also workouts for those who prefer a one-to-one training vibe.
  • Glo has an extensive yoga library, along with Pilates and guided meditations. There are more than 4,000 on-demand classes so you won’t get bored, and you’ll work out with some renowned yoga instructors.

We may be struggling through a global pandemic, but maintaining your healthy routines — whether that’s a workout first thing in the morning, starting the day off with a healthy meal or making time to relax and reset — can provide a sense of control when things feel uncertain. We’ve all got a lot on our minds during this challenging period, but hopefully some of these suggestions will help you ride it out more calmly and healthfully.

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What Does Coronavirus Mean for My Recruiting?

By NCSA Staff 04/10/2020, 12:45pm PDT

What Does Coronavirus Mean for My Recruiting?

What Does Coronavirus Mean for My Recruiting?

by NCSA Staff

Build your recruiting profile in the NCSA athletic scholarship network now.

The coronavirus pandemic is something that is far bigger than sports and we hope you and your family are healthy and safe. As the situation continues to evolve, we are already seeing how this is going to impact recruiting for the next several months.

Over the course of a few days, the NCAA made numerous announcements that impact current college athletes and recruits. These announcements have left us questioning how else the recruiting process will be affected.

Fortunately, much of the recruiting process already takes place digitally. Across all grad years and sports, it’s more important than ever for student-athletes to maximize their online presence to be proactive in starting recruiting conversations. Of course, some recruits and sports will be more impacted than others, so we’ve broken things down below to explain how your recruiting journey may change based on recent NCAA announcements.

How will this impact athletic scholarships?

With many college seniors being granted an extra year of eligibility, one of the first questions is what happens to athletes who have already signed a scholarship? Coaches grant scholarships based on the expectation they lose their seniors. If seniors are coming back, will they be eligible for a scholarship? And what happens to the committed recruits who have already accepted a scholarship? All we know is that the NCAA is aware of this concern and will provide guidance in the future. Once there is news, you can expect to get updates here.

High school class of 2020

Many Division 1 and Division 2 programs were done or almost done recruiting for the class of 2020, but the NCAA’s eligibility relief plan is going to change the recruiting landscape moving forward. Coaches who were planning on losing their seniors, might have those seniors on the team next year. High school seniors still looking to get recruited may need to expand their search to include more schools and different division levels. Recruits should also step up their digital recruiting efforts by reaching out to coaches online and by phone to discuss roster availability.

2020 seniors who have already committed should make sure to communicate with the coach regularly and not be afraid to ask how the coach anticipates that eligibility relief will impact incoming recruits’ rookie year.

High school class of 2021

For the class of 2021, this is prime time for recruiting. With official and unofficial visits postponed and many recruiting tournaments/showcases postponed or canceled, coaches have moved online. College coaches may not be able to talk in-person, but they are available to take phone calls and answer emails, texts and DMs. Coaches are online searching recruiting networks to discover and evaluate recruits they are no longer able to watch compete in-person. Student-athletes can stay on top of their recruiting by keeping a strong digital presence and staying proactive.

High school class of 2022 & 2023

The biggest impact to these classes will be the postponement or cancelation of tournaments, showcases and camps. Remember, for most sports, college coaches aren’t able to contact recruits until after June 15 of their sophomore year, which means 2022 grads still have three months before coach contact official begins. For the time being, underclassman should continue to focus their efforts on creating a recruiting profile and highlight video, building a list of prospective schools and sending introductory emails to college coaches. Video is also going to play a critical role in the recruiting process for this recruiting season. 

College fall sports

Cross country, field hockey, football, soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s water polo

For now, the recruiting process for student-athletes pursuing a roster spot on a fall sports team is only impacted by the NCAA’s new “dead period” that prohibits in-person recruiting through April 15. Recruits are still able to communicate with coaches via phone, email, text and social media. At this time, it’s too soon to say if the CDC’s current restrictions on large events will still be in place throughout the summer.

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