Screen eyes are tired eyes. So what to do about it?

I’d never thought of my childrens’ six underage eyeballs as “plump” until Manoush Zomorodi prompted me to in her recent piece about the tricky ways quarantine behaviors are impacting eyesight. Her description conjured a creepy haunted house moment from elementary school days — my hand plunged into a bowl of perfectly round peeled grapes.

The image is apt. By design, eyeballs are round and — as Robert Roy Britt reports for Elemental — nearsighted ones (like mine) are elongated. …


Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

Give your mind and body all you can right now

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Today marks the end of this column: A month’s worth of daily hacks to support your well-being in a winter season like no other. As I wind down the series, I’d love to believe the pandemic’s finale is nigh. But alas, that happy ending is still a ways off.

And though I’m a fierce advocate of both hope and optimism, I’ve set my watch to science and patience for the time being, so there I’ll sit (in my upgraded mask) for as long as it takes to arrive at what’s next.

If this little series has helped as you, too…


Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

Your body will soothe your brain

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In this time of unbearable hardship, I am one of the lucky ones: healthy, employed, and thus far unscarred (in an immediate way) by the tidal wave of loss. It’s sobering to consider how few Americans can claim those three pluses right now. To write this column is to be privileged. To think about well-being (a level up from just being) is to be privileged.

None of that is lost on me.

But that’s not to say I don’t swing into lost territory in plenty of moments. A steady diet of restrictions is hard, and I miss all sorts of…


PANDEMIC WINTER HEALTH HACKS

Fiber is your friend

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Illustration: Sophi Gullbrants

My primary care doctor is a keeper. Sharp, gracious, and no-nonsense, she frequently impresses me with how well she’s kept her human shine intact after a long career in clinical medicine. After all, as many docs will readily acknowledge, the grind of patient care and ensuing burnout can suck the gentle goodwill right out of you.

Six months ago, Dr. Amazing enlightened me about something I won’t soon forget: “We should all be pooping about a pound a day.” Okkkkay. Because she’s so cool, I listened as she got excited about the topic — nodding slowly and repressing my urge…


Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

Hold hands and snuggle pets

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Though I’ve yet to experiment with weighted blankets, I am familiar with the sensation of being lovingly suffocated by heavy warmth. It happens when my 10-year-old drapes himself across my resting body to snuggle, talk, read, or laugh. As most parents can attest, one version of a no-longer-miniature kid climbing on you can feel squirmy and uncomfortable. But another, calmer version is incredibly delightful and how I imagine hibernating animals must feel in their messy, furry pileups.

Our cuddle usually prompts one or both of our resting heart rates to slow. My son will confess his anxieties and annoyances, and…


Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

The value of trying something new

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Part of me hesitates to focus this column on tips for better sleep since there’s so much fatigue around the topic (bad pun intended). But the other part of me knows full well that sleep is of the utmost importance, plenty of us struggle with it, and let’s be real: Pandemic sleep can be tough to come by.

If exhaustion has you in its grip and you’re hungry for all the tips, tricks, and science you can find on sleep, Elemental has you covered. Are your partner’s snores or twitches too much to handle? Consider a sleep divorce. Waking up…


Don’t make me eat on time, Mom

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Photo by Michał Kubalczyk on Unsplash

I remember adolescence as a blur of MTV, surges of emotion, behaving as expected at school and as I wished with friends, and never fully grasping that time existed before or beyond me. Nothing felt temporary or budding — all was urgently certain. Every ruddy detail, down to which turtleneck I wore to which suburban garage rendezvous, mattered semi-painfully.

What doesn’t spring to mind when I squint back to those years is much detail on the routines of home, perhaps because self-definition was largely an away game. …


Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

Seize the day so nighttime doesn’t get you down

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This January nonsense of daylight disappearance by 5 p.m. is not my favorite. Especially not now, when all sense of time is already shaky due to pandemic stay-at-home life.

I’ve come to define a poorly managed midwinter day as one where day bleeds into night and I never manage to get outside, move my body, and soak up what sun I can. On a well-managed day, I work steadily starting early in the morning (ideally alongside a simmering pot of soup) — pausing to eat, exercise, and execute mom duties — and by the time the sun is bedding down…


Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

Try this tonight

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There’s no doubt that television and film are doing a lot to help us through the pandemic. And there’s even science to suggest that cozying up in front of a favorite movie or show can boost well-being. But when bedtime rolls around, the more you can move away from screens, the better.

If you’ve never heard the sleep and sex rule of thumb before (as in, they’re the only two activities you should be doing in your bedroom), now you have. …


Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

Dose yourself with all the rays you can get

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I’ve never owned a lamp designed to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), but that’s only because my zip code is reliably sunny. If it weren’t, I would absolutely invest in one. Access to light, after all, is a human necessity.

I know plenty of folks acclimatized to screens and dark days who might dismiss the notion that sunshine is a vital ingredient of well-being. But it’s hard to argue with physiology (not to mention the established link between sunlight and immune function). …

Kate Green Tripp

Senior Platform Editor, Elemental.

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