BY DR. ANDREA PURCELL
Finally, 2020 is behind us and the New Year brings a sense of hope. Even as we move into 2021, normal still has new meaning for how we work, live, and interact with the people in our lives. We may not fully reclaim “what was,” but we can begin to carve out a family and work life that enhances our physical and mental wellbeing. That starts with finding ways to manage our personal needs so that we can be the best version of ourselves while continuing to be present to those we love.
The pandemic has drained us: We are exhausted from shuffling between rooms, ironically trying to find some privacy even while being isolated from friends and family. We are frustrated by the challenges of working from home (if we’re lucky enough to still have a job) while schooling our children. We are worrying about how to pay the bills and put healthy food on the table. Even in these times, there is help and there are small solutions that can make a big difference. Remember, a healthy person has a greater chance of staying healthy, so let’s explore some ideas:
- Get support for yourself. Find doctors who practice medicine rooted in nature cure and who can work with you virtually to find ways to lift your mood and energy.
- Create a routine/schedule so that you feel “on point” and productive at the end of each day. Research shows that the predictability of a routine is good for decision making, reducing stress levels, and promoting better sleep habits.
- Move Differently, but do Move. We know physical movement is good for mind and body. Even without a trip to a fitness facility you can build in time for exercise. Perhaps establish a family “gym class” as part of homeschooling and have fun together playing and moving and, hopefully, giggling together.
- Take Deep Breaths. There are a variety of breathing techniques to help promote relaxation. One that we recommend for both adults and kids is called The Breathing Box
- Play games. Whether with your spouse, children or a friend on-line, enjoy the challenge of playing board games that are fun, strategic, or even help you learn something new.
- Reach out. It’s easy to pull in and isolate, but make a point of calling friends weekly and “zooming” family members outside of your home.
- Go to the Great Outdoors. Nature is good therapy! Get away from screen time, refresh body, mind, and spirit in a nearby park, soak up the sun, tackle a hiking trail, or relax by a local body of water.
- Create work-life boundaries, if at all possible; do the same for your children. Engage them in experiences such as cooking and woodworking that utilizes skills in math, reading and cognitive thinking.
- Drink lots of water and maintain healthy eating habits. It’s easy to grab “junk food” when you’re home all the time. Strive for fruits and vegetables and healthy snacking.
- Reduce non-work screen time. Not only is this good for your eyes, this small step can free up a lot of time for other things, including those we’ve mentioned above. You may also find yourself picking up an old hobby or making more time for pleasure reading.
We hope these ideas help you navigate the continuing challenges and that 2021 is truly the beginning of healthier, happier times. Meanwhile, If the strain of pandemic life continues to be overwhelming, or you want more personalized guidance on how to best manage issues, consult with a holistic physician who can make specific recommendations for your cognitive, emotional, and physical health.
Wishing You Well,