Dr. Sara Spong
Wellness in the Midst of Crisis
As we enter unchartered waters for our generation, we are faced with a myriad of thoughts and fears that can flood our minds. Dwelling on such things for too long can create anxiety leading to its own mental health crisis that could be more far reaching than this virus. While it is not in our power to stop such a virus (unless you are a researcher working on a vaccine!), it is in our power to find ways to keep ourselves healthy in all aspects of the human condition: physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially.
We have been called to social isolation which can quickly decline all aspects of life if we do not create positive actions to keep us well. As we have extra time at home, let us think of it as a gift to reset and refocus to healthy patterns of living. Read on below for my thoughts during this season.
Dr. Sara Spong
Although this virus is hitting the most vulnerable in our communities at higher rates, it is far-reaching and no one is immune. During this time, it is important to create space to keep your body healthy. Physical aspects of wellness include a balanced healthy diet, daily exercise, and adequate sleep.
Limiting sugar, eating fruits, vegetables and protein will allow your body to store nutrients it needs to fight illness. With extra time on our hands, we can make those family recipes we haven’t cooked in awhile or experiment with creating new ones. Share those with friends and family and see who comes up with the best one!
Not all of us go to the gym regularly and most gyms are closed for the foreseeable future, so it is time to get back to the basics here. Go for a long walk (or run if you are a runner!). There are also many 30 minute exercise plans that can be done right at home. In future blogs, I will share links to some of those. Maybe create a movement challenge with some friends on an app like My Fitness Pal.
Getting outside will give you a natural source of Vitamin D, which is a great way to boost your mood. As you walk, take time to notice the beauty around you. Did you know gratitude and thankfulness also create a mood changing experience?
When we continually dwell on hard things, we can quickly descend to dark places. I would encourage you to limit your exposure to the news to two times a day. You need to know what is happening for preparation, but a constant barrage of “breaking news” can cause your adrenal glands to over work and keep you in a constant heightened state. This also includes social media. Right now, there is too much information out there creating more anxiety. If you choose to be on social media, perhaps bring some positive ways of coping in times of stress.
Use this time to catch up on some hobbies that have fallen out of your routine. Do you like to read, knit, write, create art or music? Pick up that brush or instrument, and pour your energies into expressing your emotions versus dwelling on things out of our control. Back to the gratitude comment-start a journal or a running list of things you are grateful for during this time. Did you see a blooming tree or pretty bird on your walk? Did your family have a good laugh or conversation around the dinner table? Make note of these things and focus on the good around you. If you read a good book or watch a great movie, share that with others. Fill your home with uplifting music. For some this may be classical or spiritual or good old rock and roll. Whatever music lifts your mood, fill your home with those sounds.
Times of crisis often bring those who may have become lax in their faith back to their spiritual heritage. There is nothing like the reality of the frailty of human life to shake us up a bit! Again, we will have additional time on our hands, let us fill it with positive things. I would encourage you to have some quiet time first thing in the morning before checking the news or social media for the “latest” update. Settle your mind and heart first, so you can face what may happen that particular day. This could include reading scripture or devotionals or journaling those things you are thankful for that morning. Sit with a cup of coffee or tea, and allow yourself time to ease into the day. With the bombardment of hard news, setting your mind on positive things in the morning will allow your soul to be prepared for that day.
If you need assistance knowing where to start, you can find many devotionals on the Bible App. The great thing about this app is you can also invite friends to join you and have discussions about the readings right on the app. While most congregations have cancelled in person services many are offering online options. Take advantage of those as well.
In the paragraphs above, I mentioned a few ways to engage socially-sharing recipes, challenging each other with exercise plans, sharing books and movies, and engaging each other in spiritual practices. These can all be done virtually via text, social media, Facetime or Zoom. Isolation is hard because we are created for community. Find ways to engage with others, and do not forget those who may be more vulnerable in these times. Though we are encouraged right now to be “socially distant,” we can still deepen friendships during this time.
Practical Ways of Wellness in Crisis
Establish a routine/create a new normal.
Exercise a minimum of 30 min per day. Ideas include walking, quick workouts, getting outside!
Nutrition: Limit sugar, eat vegetables, fruits and protein-share healthy recipes with friends.
Sleep: Keep regular sleep patterns and get enough sleep.
Limit exposure to news and social media.
Listen to music that is uplifting to you.
Engage in old hobbies or start new ones.
Participate in mindfulness and meditation.
Start the morning with quiet time/mIndfulness/meditation.
Download Bible App and do a devotional with a friend-you can keep each other accountable.
Journal with an emphasis on thankfulness.
Attend online church services.
Participate in Spiritual practices.
Create an open group playlist.
Complete exercise challenges.
Share books/movies/shows to watch.
Zoom/facetime groups-connect with friends to encourage each other and share ideas
Find a way to give back to others in need, but stay safe doing so! Check out opportunities in Base at volunteer.loveoutloudws.com/covid
Gather with your family for games and movies