Are you just over the world being turned on its ear? Disillusioned, confused and worried? Wondering who to trust with so much conflicting information about how to maneuver through this pandemic?
Healthy strategies to handle the new normal are based on the foundation for overall well being: emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health.
Constant worries about an invisible enemy stalking your friends, family and you is exhausting.
The continuous need to make difficult decisions, such as the question on whether to send your children to school (assuming schools open in the Fall) is draining. The inability to hug your close friends and family is frustrating. How can you improve your emotional health in the midst of such assaults?
- Invest time in positive relationships – have a physically distancing visits at a park (maybe even a picnic in the park!)
- Call your best friend to let him or her know you love them
- Do things which bring you joy (maybe something creative like painting rocks or silly like dancing in the living room to the tunes from your high school years)
- Exercise (it can be extremely satisfying to hit a heavy bag, just a thought)
- Keep a journal – write both what is upsetting you and for what you are grateful
- Practice mediation – which can help you learn how to still the relentless noise in your mind
Has it been challenging to leave the comfort of the couch? Does the fridge whisper to you that treats await within?
Does your brain whirl at night when you should be sleeping? Diet and supplements, movement and sleep are the underpinning of your physical health. One being out of balance affects the other.
Improve the amount and quality of your sleep by:
- Prioritizing sleep (being in bed) for at least 7 hours a night
- Creating a nightly ritual
- Limiting caffeine in the day (from coffee, tea, soda and chocolate)
- Establishing a meditation habit, which will help you learn how to still your racing thoughts
- Making your bedroom a sleep haven (a dark, cool, cozy room without your device within)
Increase your odds of establishing the habit of moving during the day by:
- Finding physical activities you enjoy (gardening, walking the dog, hula hooping)
- Working out with a buddy (can both take a virtual exercise class together!)
- Hiring a personal training / a virtual personal trainer
- Blocking out exercise time in your schedule and keep your date with yourself
- Eliminating potential obstacles (such as laying your exercise clothing the night before)
You are what you eat. Supercharge your health by:
- Filling your plate and snacking on a wide array of fruits and vegetables
- Finding inspiration from health food Instagram accounts and trying new recipes
- Drinking plenty of water (try various infused water, like cucumber mint or strawberry water)
- Incorporating healthy fats, whole grains and lean proteins in your meal planning
- Taking supplements to boost your overall health and immune system
How full is your cup today? Do you feel as though you are stretched to your limit? Is the relentless anxiety, overwhelm and fear wearing you down? Is healthy living possible when navigating dark times? How can you improve your mental health when dark thoughts, secret shame and undermining insecurities flood your mind?
- Talk to a professional (via telehealth visits) about your pervasive worries and learn healthy coping strategies
- Vent to a good friend about what is overwhelming you right now
- Avoid toxic people / situations (which may mean limiting watching news programs)
- Embrace your inner 5 year old and have a royal temper tantrum. Enjoy it to the max and then let it go.
- Have compassion for yourself and others. The collective is simultaneously experiencing extreme stress. Be kind to all.
Spiritual health is achieved when you feel at peace with life, when you are able to find hope and comfort during dark times. Spiritual health helps you experience life completely. Spirituality is different for everyone. While not everyone believes in the existence of a deity, realizing that you are not the center of everything and focusing on the larger world or universe around you will enhance your spiritual health. Some of the benefits of spiritual wellness are obtaining clarity on self, happiness and purpose, deepened connections with others, experiencing more inner peace, and increasing your resilience.
You can improve your spiritual health by:
- Meditating which allows you to be still with yourself, listening to the quiet voice within
- Spending time in nature in quiet reflection and thought
- Being creative, silly, joyful, and spending time exhaling and having fun
- Performing random acts of kindness and listening with your heart
- Radical self-care, eliminate toxic influences and relationships and respect the temple which is your body.
The four cornerstones of your health are interwoven. One area being unbalanced will negatively impact the others. On the flip side, shoring up a neglected area will positively improve the whole of you. Focusing on the habits which will create a strong and healthy you will offer you the best chance to thrive during this pandemic.
To your health.
Dianne Hinton NP, PA, IFM-C