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Piles of dishes. Mounds of laundry. Crayons scattered on the floor. Endless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Children fighting during morning conference calls. The highly contagious COVID-19 virus came in like a wrecking ball, destroying plans and interrupting schedules. Many moms are staying home 24 hours a day now, leaving them scrambling to find a new normal.

It is important to remember how taxing a pandemic is on mental health. One of the easiest, most rewarding ways to nurture the mind is exercise.

Before COVID-19 arrived on the scene, it was not uncommon for people to plan their entire schedules around fitting in a workout. That all changed in the blink of an eye. Gyms and fitness centers shut their doors. Monday evening yoga classes were cancelled. School districts decided distance learning is best. Moms turned into teachers overnight. Life started to look completely different. This left people questioning how to move forward.

There are many ways to stay active, no matter the circumstances. It is all about trying different activities to find what fits best. Going out for a jog or taking the dog for a long walk are great choices for beginners. Also, mental health benefits greatly from a little Vitamin D, so soak up as much sunshine as possible.

Having small children is challenging too when trying to get in a workout, especially if they are out of the napping phase. The easiest thing to do is include them.

With smaller children, try pulling them in a bicycle trailer, or strapping them into a jogging stroller and taking them through some neighborhood trails to search for birds or other animals. Put together a list of objects for them to hunt. This helps keep them engaged and entertained. Try different alternatives to see what they enjoy. The likelihood of sticking with a workout routine is much greater if the activity is enjoyable for everyone.

The internet provides a countless assortment of free workouts. Yoga is especially soothing for the soul. It helps with decreasing both stress and anxiety. Practicing yoga creates a feeling of harmony between the mind and body. Practice can take place almost anywhere, and the only equipment required is a yoga mat or a beach towel is okay to get started. Try setting up in the living room or the backyard to see what feels best.

Navigating these unfamiliar times looks different for each family. Figure out what feels right and stick with it. Moms are working hard to keep it all together. They are the caregivers, the referees, the teachers, and the maids. They are the glue that holds everything together. It is important to spend some time every day focusing on staying healthy, both physically and mentally.

Rachel Wilbanks is in the Health Promotion B.S. program at University of North Texas.

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