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Published on June 01, 2020

Simple tips for healthy living from CCHC experts and community partners

balance logoPower-up with mindfulness to survive and thrive today – and tomorrow

By Manny Marrero, MOT, OTR/L, CCHC Behavioral Health

The following is part one of a two-part series on mindfulness in the changing times around COVID-19.

We’re in the thick of a historic pandemic. As a mental health professional, I see the effect it’s having on my patients, my family and friends, my neighbors, our community and the world that surrounds us. I won’t pretend to have all the answers to fix the problems we face, but some simple adjustments to the way we live and look at our current situation can help make this time a little better for ourselves and our loved ones.

We’re out of our routines – the daily, weekly and monthly rituals that usually keep us busy have been set aside. This situation can help make room for a new normal, and a new set of routines that can make that new normal more bearable. These routines could even help you thrive now and in the future. Here are some tips that will help you be of mindful how you spend this time.

Be Mindful with Your Intake

When we’re bored, we tend to do things mindlessly. Everything we take into our body matters – from the food we eat to the information that comes in. I’m guilty of it, too, spending more time in the kitchen in search of snacks. And if I’m not careful, I can easily dive too deeply into the news.

To prevent a slip in health, set yourself up for success in the kitchen. The next time you grocery shop, stock up on nutritious foods and leave over-processed snacks on the shelves. If you have questions about what food you should be eating, talk to your doctor or a dietician like Nicole Cormier at Delicious Living Nutrition. Both should be available for telehealth services to help you create a plan from home.

The media we subject ourselves to matters. It’s important to stay on top of new developments, but it’s easy to take in more information than anyone can handle due to its 24-hour availability. To help combat that, put your news intake on a schedule. Allow yourself a specific amount of time to read or watch, then put it down and pick up a book, watch a movie or play with your kids. Any breaking news can wait until your next scheduled news intake.

Be Mindful with Your Output

Being active is still vital to our physical and mental health. With the gyms closed, many of us have gotten out of our exercise routines. It may take some creativity, but getting in a workout can be fun, and the activity can have a significant effect on your emotional and physical wellbeing.

Many local studios are hosting online classes, and some are donation-based to help those struggling with economic losses. Remember that these studios face their own hardships, so if you can afford to do so, please donate and enjoy some yoga or dance with locals. It’s a great way to be active physically and participate in your community.

The psychological benefits of getting out in nature are proven. We’re lucky to live in one of the most beautiful spots in the country. Spending time in nature reduces stress hormones and heart rate to help you relax, and research suggests it can boost your immune system, which is essential right now. If you can exercise safely outside, following all social distancing guidelines, go for a run, walk, bike ride, or even do some yoga in your backyard next to a tree or your favorite flower bush! It’s like adding a power-up to your exercise routine.

Helping ourselves, helping each other

As we find ourselves in this time of change that seem scary, remember, we’re all in this together. Finding new ways to connect with ourselves, our loved ones, and our community will help us get through this, and we could even be better for it in the end.

If you are in need of mental health services, they are still available during this time. Many mental health counselors offer private telehealth services. Help is just a phone call away.

To access CCHC Behavioral Health services, call 508-862-PSYK or email GetPsyk@capecodhealth.org.

Manny Marrero, MOT, OTR/L, is an Occupational Therapist in the CCH Partial Hospital Program