Health & Wellness in the Age of COVID-19

October 26, 2020

COVID-19 has challenged us in more ways than we could ever imagine – emotionally, psychologically and financially. It suddenly pulled the rug from under our feet and thrust us into a remarkable life that we barely recognized as our own. These sudden, rapid changes in the way we live, coupled with uncertainty, can feel overwhelming, especially for parents of young children.

According to an article, “Your’ Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful” by Tara Haelle, in the early months of COVID, we were using “surge capacity” to operate – “a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations. When it’s depleted, it has to be renewed.”

So, how does one stay positive in an ever-changing situation where the “new normal” is indefinite uncertainty?

We spoke with Health and Wellness coaches, Emma Janssen and Pablo Perez, who said there are nine rules for staying positive and psychologically balanced in general and more so during these strange times.

  1. We must accept that life has its light and stormy periods and that it is our responses, not our reactions, to those situations that will better serve us.
  2. We need to spend time with ourselves, get to know who we are, and get to know what we need and what we don’t need to live more true to ourselves.
  3. We must take care of our minds and hearts just as we would our physical bodies, whatever that looks like for us.
  4. We need to remember to lean into friends and family, and as our daughter said: ‘we are our first friend, so we can also lean into ourselves too.’
  5. It’s ok to ask for help, and that we can help others too.
  6. Observe and accept the grief we may feel for losing access to various parts of our lives.
  7. Be gentle with ourselves as we alter our budget to better suit these times without shame.
  8. Know that tolerance and ‘being strong’ is not a badge of honour and that instead, we can develop more compassion for ourselves.
  9. Know that like all things; this too shall pass.

The couple, who also owns The Cuddle Couple – an innovative therapy that restores and nurtures therapeutic touch caused by the deprivation of the human touch due to technology and real connection being absent from our lives – added that “during times of crisis – moderate or severe – it can be tempting to compare your experience to others.

“What we encourage to do instead is take note of your reactions and responses to these critical periods in your life. We say critical because it is these reactive self-protective patterns that can potentially drain more of your energy. If you notice yourself reacting to stressors often, we strongly encourage coming back to your breath and taking note of what you may be feeling because, underneath that anger, frustration, impatience or sadness, your body is trying to tell you something.

“As is often said, it takes a village, and yet, now we don’t have it as much, so what can you do?

Build the village inside, meditate, do yoga, find cuddle therapy and touch, and steady the waters internally. Externally, bring the village home, garden, make space for your practices, appreciate, and value your individual needs, and take this time to cultivate a more stimulating and loving environment for yourself and your loved ones.”

Other experts in the industry have advised eating balanced meals and drinking enough water. At times like these, it’s very easy to fall for comfort food, forget to eat and increase alcohol consumption – all that can negatively impact our mental state.

We should also focus on sleep, another area that, if not focused on, can cause us to fall into bad habits. If you are sleep deprived, your focus will not be as clear, your energy levels will be low, and you could react emotionally towards someone or something that was not called for.

Sometimes, we underestimate how severe the adversity is and that people may be experiencing a normal reaction to a pretty severe and ongoing, unfolding, cascading disaster. Still, at the same time, it’s important to recognize that it’s normal in a situation of great uncertainty and chronic stress to get exhausted and to feel ups and downs, to feel like you’re depleted or experience periods of burnout.

Do a checklist of your stresses and identify whether they are within your control. People tend to focus on stresses they cannot control, and when they try to control them, it gets them nowhere aside from wasted time and headspace. Acknowledging this allows room to concentrate on what is important.