Flattening the Curve: A Success Story

Corona

Corona

Springtime is here and the weather is finally perfect for all your outdoor activities. Everyone should be outside in the sunshine, but instead, we are staying inside our homes and practicing social distancing. Coronavirus 2019 or Covid-19 has many of us stressed out and unsure of how to cope with the recommendations to help flatten the curve. It’s important we take this time to remember we are not “stuck at home”, but playing our part to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and complete strangers. It is a stressful time as we can feel cut-off from family, friends, and the outside world. As we all do our part to slow the spread of the virus, it becomes easy to think that we have to become hermits and stay in our homes 24/7. Increased stress can look like: “increased fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, changes in sleeping or eating patterns, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, and worsening of chronic health problems”1. We are going to talk about some things you can do to help cope with the stress and how you don’t have to avoid the beautiful sunshine all the time!

TAKE BREAKS FROM NEWS AND SOCIAL MEDIA

While learning accurate information about Covid-19 and individual risk can make the outbreak seem less stressful, it is very important to take breaks from the news and social media to reduce overall stress levels. I’m as guilty of this as any of you, reading articles or stories shared on Facebook or reading my local news stories, but I try to check more credible sources such as the CDC or WHO websites a few times a week for updates and avoid reading every article that I see on social media. Hearing, reading, and talking about the pandemic all the time can increase your stress levels and make you more upset.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR MIND AND BODY

As tensions can start to rise from being in closer quarters than normal with your loved ones, it’s important to remember to take care of your mind and body. Taking even 2 minutes a day to focus on your breathing, how the inhales and exhales feel as the breath moves in and out of your body, and where your mind tends to wander to as you try to focus, can make you feel calmer and more in control of what you allow your mind to focus on. This may be the perfect time to take up yoga or meditation practice to help quiet your mind and improve your mind-body connection. It is also important to eat healthy meals (even though those “junk food quarantine snacks” can look appealing). I know many people stocked up on dry or canned goods just in case, but while you still have the opportunity to continue to try eating less processed foods and get those delicious fruits and vegetables. Sugar and alcohol have been shown to lower our immune systems so try to avoid those during this stressful time to help your body fight off infections. Also, make sure to get plenty of sleep. Being home more than usual can mean a slight change in your routine, so try to get at least 7-8 hours and stick to your normal schedule.

GO OUTSIDE

If allowed in your area, continue or even start to go on a daily walk if your body allows. It is encouraged to maintain at least 6 feet apart and avoid crowded areas, but you are still able to go outside and get some vitamin D. Going outside for a walk, bike ride, or any other activity you enjoy can help lower stress levels through cardiovascular exercise and help you avoid feeling cooped up all day. This may be the time you finally get in the habit of exercising on a regular basis. If you have some other health issues that are keeping you from being active, try sitting outdoors to read a book or listen to some music.

CONNECT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Technology has really helped us out with this one. During a time where it is easy to feel alone and isolated, our computers and phones can keep us connected to those we care about. You can use many different platforms to video chat such as Skype, Zoom, or Facetime in order to see your loved ones. You can also call, text, or write a letter to let someone know you are thinking about them. If you are feeling particularly anxious or isolated during this time, reach out not only to a loved one but a healthcare provider as this is an extremely stressful situation for many.

It is important during this time to try and find some balance between your new routine and your old routine. Give yourself some time each day to relax and take care of yourself as well as those around you. We are all in this together and need to stay connected as we continue to stay apart.

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AMA CITATION

  1. Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html. Published March 23, 2020. Accessed March 30, 2020.
Alyssa Charbonneau, PT, DPT, ATC, Cert-DN
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