I have friends who are considered “essential employees” during this time that’s out of the ordinary, to say the least.  While a good majority of the world is taking a brief hiatus from work, those who are considered essential employees aren’t getting that time off and many of them are actually working more hours.  This leaves less time to focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, not to mention the gyms are closed. In addition to essential employees, there’s another group of working men and women who also have to work hard at balancing their jobs with a healthy lifestyle. These are shift workers, third shift in particular.  Third shift workers are basically operating on a schedule that functions opposite the rest of the world. While the rest of us are asleep, they’re up, continuing to make the world go round. So when I thought about how to help essential employees maintain a healthy lifestyle during a time where resources are limited, who better to equate them to than third shift employees? 

With all of that being said, how can those who are working overtime to keep us safe while having limited options of food and exercise resources available maintain healthy habits? I’ve come up with a few tips below:

1.  Maintain a healthy perspective/mindset: The media isn’t necessarily offering the most optimistic outlook on a daily basis, which has driven many people to panic buying everything from toilet paper to pasta! This isn’t necessary. Keep in mind that (a) This is a temporary situation for a more positive outcome: to keep this virus from spreading, and (b) There are no shortages going on as far as food and water are concerned so there’s no need to panic. This time of social distancing is only supposed to be for a few weeks. This isn’t our new norm. So please, keep in mind that this is a temporary state of being. Look at Wuhan, China for example. They’re back up and running, and even though citizens are being more cautious, which is a good thing, they’re back in business when it comes to being able to move about their city without isolation restrictions. 

2. Maintain your existing healthy eating habits: Right now, our trips to the grocery stores are limited and as I mentioned previously, panic buying has ensued. People have resorted to buying more processed foods, foods that last longer on the shelves because…well, I don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s a fear of a food shortage or the fear of being in isolation for so long that they will run out of food but grocery stores are definitely having a hard time keeping the shelves stocked.  I do understand going to the store and buying enough food in order to limit the grocery store runs. However, this has caused many people to take on the attitude of eating more processed foods because they last on the shelves longer. This isn’t necessary. Frozen fruits and veggies last a long time as well. Instead of opting for boxed foods, try more frozen foods, along with organic meats, whole grains, and legumes to start. 

3. Get creative with your workouts: The gyms are closed and Amazon is running very short on inventory in terms of exercise bands and dumbbells. If you already have these options in your home, good for you! If not, then you may have to get a little more creative than you would ordinarily.  Your cardio options are plentiful. You can still walk, run, and bike outside, find plenty of cardio videos online, but weight lifting may be a little more of a challenge. Bodyweight exercises are always a good option. I saw someone pack a duffle bag full of laundry online and use it for weightlifting! You just have to get creative. 

I hope this has been helpful for those of you who are on the front lines, working hard to keep us safe, and for the third shift workers, working those odd hours to keep the world going.  Both groups are working with limited times and options to maintain healthy lifestyles but it’s possible, with a little more thought and creativity, to keep and develop healthy habits.

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