Living Well in the Time of the Coronavirus

By Robert Herbst

March 26, 2020

Living Well in the Time of the Coronavirus


By Robert Herbst

How is your stress level? Last week, I had to help get my 20-year-old daughter back from Europe, my 88-year-old mother was isolated in an assisted living facility and not allowed visitors, and the stock market tanked. Then they took away March Madness.

This week you may be working remotely side by side with your spouse, while remote schooling your children and trying to meet your clients’ suddenly shifting needs. At the same time, you will be bombarded by a never ending news cycle of grim developments. You can’t even escape to a restaurant or lose yourself into considering why Giancarlo Stanton won’t be ready for Yankees’ opening day. Even the gym is closed.

If you have been following an exercise and wellness routine, this is what you have been preparing for. If you haven’t, it is not too late to start, and we will help you get through it.

First, stop stressing about everything. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Remind yourself that as unpleasant as things may be, you will get through this just like you did the bar exam, innumerable late nights, that horrible deal over the holiday weekend or that case with bad facts. Getting stressed will only weaken your immune system and increase the likelihood of your getting sick. With every day seemingly bringing more bad news or the loss of something we enjoy, you should control the one thing you can: how you react to the situation. Reducing your stress is the best way to protect yourself to stay well and better serve your clients, your family, and yourself.

One of the very best ways to cope with stress is to exercise. Exercise lowers the amount of the stress hormone cortisol, lowers your blood pressure, and boosts your immune system. Exercise will keep you fit, positive, and goal directed. Even a little exercise helps. You don’t have to run a marathon. You just need to use your muscles and get your heart rate up.

A quick and simple routine you can do while supervising your kids and working remotely is: 10 jumping jacks, 10 squats, 10 pushups and a 30 second plank. Repeat that three times. Add one repetition to each exercise a day. By the end of two weeks, you will be doing twice as much as when you started, and yes, it looks like we could be doing this for a few weeks.

There are many other exercises you can add in for variety such as burpees and mountain climbers and many routines on the internet. Look for ones that improve your strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular capacity. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or Tabata give the most bang for the buck if you are strapped for time. You can also add in equipment such as stretch bands and a jump rope (maybe check with the downstairs tenant if you live in an apartment for that). A 20-minute workout will alleviate your stress and have you back to work renewed and invigorated.

High intensity training will also raise your metabolism to help you burn calories. It is very easy to gain weight working at home. If during your normal commute you walk 15 minutes from the train to your office, not doing that means you are losing a half hour a day or two and a half hours a week of walking. In addition, you are missing out on all the incidental walking you might usually do, such as going down the hall to see a colleague or going out for lunch, all of which adds up. Try to replace that by taking a break and going for a walk or taking a walk after the close of business. Getting into spring and the fresh air and sunshine will boost your immunity and improve your mood.  In addition, it will help clear your head.

Also, stand as much as possible. Too much sitting is as much a risk factor to your health as smoking. Stand during calls or set your alarm to stand every hour.

Try to cook your own meals. The food will be fresher. With takeout meals it is hard to control the calories and they usually contain too much salt. Don’t get fast food, no matter how much the kids ask for it.

Finally, stay hydrated. Drinking water will keep our immune system up and will help you think better. It will also make you feel full, so you are less likely to snack on empty calories.

It is more important than ever to be disciplined and follow a wellness routine. Together we will get through this — and then we’ll get back to arguing why the Yankees paid so much for Stanton.

Robert Herbst is an attorney and champion powerlifter. He has been the general counsel of several companies and is a past chair of the NYSBA Committee on Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction.


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