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Health & Wellness Check

These are unprecedented times. With the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the globe, it is hard to escape the endless news coverage and social media posts especially when it affects those in your community. Now more than ever we need to take time to invest in our own health, not just for ourselves but for those who depend on us.

How Do You Monitor Your Mental Health During a Crisis?

During a time of crisis, emotions such as fear and panic are normal to experience. Your body is smart! It knows that “something is wrong” and is physically preparing for you to take on this challenging time. Extra cortisol, the body’s stress response hormone, is being produced by your adrenal glands as a protective response and circulating through your body. In order to keep our cool during this time of social and economic hardship, here are my top 5 lifestyle tips to manage your anxieties in order to keep your productivity, emotions and mental health in check.

1. Create a New Routine

Many of us have had to adapt our daily lives in order to encourage physical distancing and flatten the curve, including myself. Having to self-isolate and work from home can be a nice change of pace for sure. Who doesn’t want a few extra hours of sleeping in or the ability to wear yoga pants while killing it on a conference call? For some who have been laid off, we are left wandering without any direction through our days spent at home making us feel sluggish, tired and bored. Combine this with the mixed bag of emotions such as fear and panic and we are left feeling hopeless without a sense of purpose.

The best way to offset this derailment is to set a new routine. Use this new time at home to do the things that you want to accomplish on your to do list. Maybe you want to clean out your closet, reorganize your pantry or home office, tackle a new book by reading 1 chapter a day, and the list goes on. The key to building a new routine is to schedule these things into your day just like you would a meeting at the office. Make a list of goals you want to accomplish for the next day and itemize them by categorizing what you are going to do in the morning, afternoon and evening. Putting things you would like to achieve in categories will help bring a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

2. Move Your Body

You have been told repeatedly that regular exercise is critical to optimal health. I’m not going to go on and on about the health benefits of exercise because we are all intelligent individuals who know there is strong evidence to support this. However, what you may fail to realize is that continuous movement of “one foot in front of the other” allows us the use those adrenaline hormones that tend to make us feel restless, anxious and jittery. Moving our bodies helps relieve stress because we are metabolically allowing our bodies to use up energy that is created in a fight or flight situation. This is likely why we crave “getting out of house” or flee when things get tough because we are genetically primed to do so. So, if you are feeling restless and anxious, do what your body was designed to do… Move your body!

Go for a walk, dance in your living room, shake your limbs about, pump some iron, run around playing with a pet; this will help clear your mind, release some tension and make you feel less stressed.

3. Reintroduce Yourself to Nature

It is very easy to get caught up in new feeds and twitter hashtags with how we have integrated technology into our lives today. Social media is a great way to stay connected to those around us; however, it can also be a great distractor and time-consuming vortex. When we are feeling stressed, it’s easy to not be present and in the moment. Negative thought patterns can develop and consume our every waking thoughts. This is not a habit that we want to develop, especially in a pandemic that has created so many unsettling feelings and uncertainties.

Getting out in nature is inherently important for our health. Our bodies require sunlight to make active forms of Vitamin D, which carries with it a whole host of health boosting benefits including improving mood and blunting depression. Additionally, getting outside for walk or sitting on a bench or in our backyards allows us to engage in mindfulness-based practices. Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment and keeping our thoughts in the “now”. By listening to the birds sings, watching the ducks float on a nearby pond, or smelling our neighbours’ BBQ from a few doors down, we are engaging in simple little mindfulness practices that get you out of your head and focus on the things you CAN control in your life currently. Who doesn’t want to feel empowered and calm?

4. Nourish Your Body, Mind and Soul

If anything positive can come from being told to “stay home” and “self-isolate” during a global crisis, it is this: we have been given the TIME to really reflect on ourselves. If we had previous goals of wanting to get into better shape, do a 20-day dietary reboot, read books off a reading list, now is the time to do it! By incorporating one activity that we dedicate to just ourselves during the day, this would be the definition of a self-care activity. Self-care is critical. Let me repeat that… self-care is critical to our wellbeing. It allows us to retain our true identity and not be defined by the occupations we have chosen or allow the weight of the world on our shoulders to knock us to our knees. It puts yourself at the top of your priority list for a few minutes or hours in a day. This helps create and ultimately maintain that “B” word in life: Balance.

Now is simply the time to nourish our physical bodies with the best quality foods to keep us feeling well and energized. We also need to nourish our minds with creative activities that light up our brains to make more of the happiness hormone, serotonin. Serotonin production balances the effects of cortisol, keeping those more negative emotions in check. By participating in activities that bring you joy and happiness, you are keeping your will power strong and preventing you from sliding into a depressive mental state.

5. Establish Connection

When we ingest vitamins and minerals we lose a large amount of absorption capability to the digestive tract. This leaves our bodies with an approximate 50% absorption level from ingestion. IV Vitamin Therapy allows us to skip the digestive tract and get 100% absorption directly into the bloodstream. You receive the full mind and body benefits of the vitamins in the IV fluid at a much quicker rate.

Now more than ever it is imperative that we utilize technology to stay connected to family, friends and neighbours. Call, email, text, Skype, Facetime, direct message, Zoom, Whatsapp etc. are all ways you can use technology to stay connected to your inner circle. Participating in this type of communication is important. Not only does it allow you to interact with others outside your home virtually, it calls us to all work on our relationships with those we care about. Even if we cannot leave our homes to engage in social activities, we are fortunate enough to live in an age where technology becomes essential to maintain human connection.

The simple fact is this: now more than ever our emotional wellbeing is being challenged. It can seem very easy to let feelings of fear, anxiety and hopelessness consume us in a time of extreme stress because our bodies are gearing up to combat these uncertain times. In order to keep a positive mental outlook, we have to push ourselves to engage in safe practices that make us feel a sense of purpose, support our health in physical and emotional ways and stay connected.

If we make an effort to establish a new routine, move our bodies, connect with nature, nourish our ourselves and stay connected, we will be incorporating better strategies to manage stress and keep us sane in a world that seems to be falling apart. Additionally, we will come out of this situation with better self-care practices we can continue to implement in our daily lives to better cope with critical situations that may come our way in the future.

I hope you all stay safe and healthy. We will all get through this together.
Dr. K