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Wellness Tips for Turbulent Times

When we pressed pause on client care earlier this week, it was a big deal.

We care deeply for our clients, we love our work, and our clinic team is like a family. More than anything we want to take care of each other right now, and the current situation requires a somewhat counterintuitive approach to caretaking. Instead of leaning in at every opportunity, we are learning the dance of staying connected from a distance. We are learning how to build immunity in community and stay well in turbulent times. We’ve put together some suggestions to help ground us all in healthy practices during a time when it has never been more important

Keep Moving

If you are currently engaged in a physical therapy program or healing process, keep up the good work! You have likely been given a home exercise program that was designed to adapt to almost any indoor space with minimal equipment. It is important to stay consistent with your program in order to maintain the gains you have made and continue to make progress toward your goals. Even in a public health crisis, movement is medicine and healing can happen.

Workforce changes have left many of us with much more unstructured time than we are used to. Consider the benefit of continuing to follow the structure and rhythm of a day or week- plan fun activities for the weekend if that’s something you’ve always done. Begin each day with 20-60 minutes of exercise at an intensity that is sustainable for you. If you have always gone for a walk at 5:30 PM, keep going for your walk at 5:30 PM unless it is not safe to do so.

Stay Connected

Many of our clients share with us how helpful it is to be held accountable for taking an active role in their healing. During the break in direct care with your PT, consider asking a friend or loved one to take the role of holding you accountable. This may mean they check in once a week, much like your PT, and ask, “How are your exercises going? Tell me some areas where you’ve noticed improvement, and where you are continuing to experience challenges.” The simple act of reflecting upon and articulating your status is a great way to stay on track toward your goals. You can also take the accountability role with yourself by using a journal or training log to track exercise, progress, challenges, and goals.

Still at a loss? We are thrilled to be setting up the infrastructure to offer telehealth services in the coming days, and we will keep our community updated! The day when you can meet with your PT from the comfort of your own home may not be far away…

Embrace Technology and Get Creative

Technology is a double-edged sword these days. Read the news, stay informed, but set time aside to step back from the social or intellectual online space and explore a rapidly developing online space devoted to wellness and physicality. In the last week there has been a surge of free online resources designed to keep us all healthy, moving, and sane while self-isolating:

  • Can’t go to your regular yoga or group fitness class? Likely your studio is offering (or will be soon) live-streamed classes. Many fitness establishments are offering free programming online—check out the YMCA on demand video library.
  • Wondering if it’s safe to head out with your usual walking group? Set up a phone call with a friend, put your headphones on, and turn your solo walk into a walk and talk date.
  • Like pumping iron? Lucky for you, there’s heavy stuff almost everywhere. Get creative! One of our clients needed an 8# weight to do a prescribed exercise at home and famously used part of his boat engine. The more awkward the object the better—creating a novel training stimulus (such as a different grip or asymmetric loading) within a well-established movement pattern has been shown to lead to significant performance gains!

When routine is disrupted and old systems break down, innovation rules. Think outside the box and embrace new coping strategies- crisis begets creativity!

Nourish and Hydrate

We know that when our personal ecosystems are in balance, we are less vulnerable to experiencing illness and pain. Give your nervous system and immune system the royal treatment by staying hydrated and well nourished.

  • Hydration Challenge: Divide your body weight by two and aim to drink that number in ounces of water each day. Example: 150 pounds / 2 = 75 ounces of water per day.
  • Nutrition Challenge: Eat vegetables with 2 out of 3 of your daily meals.

Prioritize Stress Reduction and Sleep

“Don’t forget to breathe!” In physical therapy we help our clients develop an intentional relationship with breath for many reasons: athletic performance, pulmonary and cardiovascular health, stress reduction, to facilitate muscle activation, and to optimize joint and soft tissue mobilization techniques. To get the most out of your breath check out Breathe2Relax, an app developed by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology.

For more mindfulness and stress reduction support check out Mindfulness Exercises, a free online library of over 2000 mindfulness exercises and free meditation courses. The Insight Timer App is another great resource that offers over 30,000 free guided meditations and is available on both IOS and Android.

To put it very simply: stress is stress is stress. Our nervous systems have a hard time differentiating between physical stress and life stress. When the backdrop of life is stressful, physical symptoms and fatigue can intensify. Now is an important time to honor rest, recovery, and sleep as a critical component to health. Keep a consistent bedtime and rise time, and aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. A rested body is a resilient body.

Commit to Following Public Health Mandates and Recommendations

Many of us are asking ourselves and others right now, “How can I help?” The most altruistic and critical action each one of us can take right now is to commit to social distancing. Population health depends on the actions of each individual and we are all in this together. One of CorePhysio’s clinic mottos is “Better Together,” and we want to emphasize that this can still keep us connected on a path to health.

For now, though, we will amend it to say: “Better Together (and six feet apart).”