of Integrative Medicine
Focus on Resilience and Wellness
April 19, 2020
This is a stressful time for just about everyone now. The fear and worries of becoming ill, worry of possible spreading illness to others, stress from financial worries, job insecurities, and uncertainty of what the future will hold may be on many people's minds now. Additionally, many people feel loneliness, and may be isolated if staying at home, missing friends and family. The long periods of social distancing may make us feel disconnected, idle and restlessness now. It is more important than ever to take time to care for yourself. Managing your stress and mental health is just as important as your physical health, as they are intimately connected.
Reminding ourselves of why we must stay at home and practice social distancing now is important. Realize that the entire community around you is working to combat this pandemic. As you stay home, you are contributing to the mitigation and reduction of transmission, which is the main tactic that we have of ending this pandemic.
What can you do: We have learned a lot about this disease in the past few weeks; about transmission, protection and ways to minimize the transmission, including and most importantly, social distancing and frequent and careful hand washing. Practice what you have learned to maximize your ability to stay healthy.
Diet/Eat better. This is a good time to start cooking more and making healthy dishes. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables which contain antioxidants, necessary for the immune system. A healthy diet will also contribute to helping you feel better emotionally. Be sure you wash all produce well, using soap and water before cutting, cooking and consuming. Clean areas where you prepare food. Consider also taking a multi-vitamin with vitamin D now.
Exercise: This is a great time to start an exercise routine. The minutes/hours saved on not commuting to work, and a less structured day allows some time to fit this into your daily routine. We know that exercise is good for your health, and it is a great way to help manage depression and anxiety. Yoga, Tai Chi is beneficial for both the mind and the body. There are plenty of classes/workouts to stream on your devices. There are no excuses now!
Socially Connect: It is of utmost importance to be socially distanced now, but we are a social species and we desire and need to be around others. If you are home with your family, take a walk with together during the day (it is recommended now to wear a mask), schedule mealtimes together, watch a movie or tv show in the evening, play cards. If you are alone, try to get out of the house each day, explore your neighborhood or drive to a park to walk. Find ways to connect, including activities that you can do with others, by phone, zoom, sharing photos and using social media. If you are alone, consider reaching out to friends that you have not connected with in a long time or strengthen ongoing relationships that you may have neglected in the midst of busy work schedules.
With your free time, think about doing things that you did not have time to do before; declutter the house, organize your belongings, compile photos in an album, rearrange your space, take an online language class, garden. Consider this as sacred time, an unusual, scary, but special time in history (that we hopefully won't see again). Keep a daily journal, jot down your thoughts. Take photos to document the times. Map out your short and long term goals. Find ways to volunteer your service to help.
Sleep: Sleep is important. It is the time when our body heals. Sleeping well is more and more difficult when we don't get out in the sunshine, or have an active routine. Try to keep a regular schedule each day. Exercise (see above). As the weather is getting warmer, try to get out every day. Sunlight is important for our normal circadian rhythms. Walking is good for our fitness (be mindful of doing it away from crowds). Avoid too much TV, or using the computer before bed. It may be hard to turn it off now with less structure and boundaries in our daily routine. Choose a time to wind down, have a cup of chamomile tea, turn off the computer, quiet the phone and find a book to read before bed.
Have Gratitude: Each day pause and find gratitude for all of those that are keeping us safe, comfortable and providing us with the things we need while we are staying home. Thank you to our health care providers, food deliverers, postal workers, pharmacists, and everyone that is still working while the country has shut down.