You go for an annual physical and you know what to expect. Your blood pressure, weight, heart rate and various lab tests will give an overview of your health status as well as significant changes. You’re taking care of your body. Now what about the rest of you?
Whole-person wellness means exactly that: Physical, emotional, and mental health are entwined and inseparable. So, whether or not someone has contracted COVID-19, nobody is immune to the pandemic. While medical symptoms may be obvious and urgent, the effects of ongoing stress, sadness, loneliness, and anxiety also take their tolls on well-being.
The health care community has been stretched to its limits during these extraordinary times. Families and individuals, too, are making difficult adjustments, and many people feel isolated. Unfortunately, there’s no handy playbook or sense of control. That’s why experts at Canyon Ranch as well as the World Health Organization recommend harnessing your inner resources to make healthy choices for your mental health and well-being.
Empowerment & wellness
Taking charge of your well-being is how you build resilience. And while it may not seem possible at times, you actually have tremendous power to lessen or perpetuate the distress of emotional experiences or circumstances. This is vital, since research clearly points to the impact of stress and mental health on overall well-being.
By cultivating self-care skills, you may emerge from these challenging times more resilient and healthier than before. Consider these tips to keep you on track:
• Reach out – further. Zoom, chat, call. There are more ways than ever to stay in touch with friends, family, and colleagues. And think beyond your usual circle. Contact a friend you haven’t seen in years. Get in touch with an elderly relative who might be lonely. They’ll be happy to hear from you – and you’ll love it, too.
• Go on a news diet. The 24/7 news cycle and phone alerts provide overload stress – which you can control. Switch off your devices, change the channel, and set aside firm no-news hours each day. Make a special dinner instead, spend time in the garden, or write the great American novel. The news will go on without you, and you won’t miss it a bit.
• Play! Dance around the living room, take your dog to the park, be spontaneous. When you play with people you enjoy, you’re flooded with oxytocin, the “feel-good” or “love” hormone. Your mood lifts, stress takes a break, and you naturally relax. Fun is good for you.
• Take care of you. Most humans need and thrive on a sense of structure. Staying at home or working remotely can wreak havoc on routines that have given you comfort. Luckily, you’re in charge: Take your shower, get dressed, and create a schedule you can live comfortably with. Remember, a vacuum needs to get filled, so choose how you’ll fill your life before stress or depression slip in.
• Minimize alcohol. When you’re at home all the time, it’s easy to have drinks on days and at times when you normally wouldn’t. While it may boost your mood in the moment, in the long run it depresses your nervous system, impacts sleep, demotivates, and tends to lead to higher rates of depression. Occasional alcohol can be fine with dinner or for unwinding, but it’s not a healthy way to cope with ongoing issues.
• Get sunlight. The sun is an incredible mood booster. In fact, the reward circuits in your brain are triggered the moment you walk outside. And you get the bonus of connecting with nature and your place in the world. There’s no simpler, more powerful gift to yourself.
Be supportive, gentle, and generous with yourself. It’s good for your health!