by Dr. Max Hammonds
COVID -19? Just wear your mask, wash your hands, use sanitizer when necessary, and social distance. That’s all we need for health, right?
Before the current crisis, what was your plan to maintain your health? Hopefully, it included the four areas of human health: mental, spiritual, physical, and social.
Warning: Don’t binge – on anything! Bingeing focuses your attention on one area while ignoring the others.
Mental health: Before Covid-19, what stimulated you mentally, that caused you to grow and thrive? Hopefully, your work challenged you mentally. But beyond work, what else did you pursue – audio books, puzzles, National Geographic channel, the History channel, or NOVA? Did you play music or try learning a new language? Do it now. All these pursuits are shareable and age-specific modifiable for the younger or older.
Fold into your daily routine now the mental pursuits that challenge you and bring you satisfaction. Make them part of your daily plan.
Physical health: a challenge any time – because we frequently don’t make time for it. We struggle to find time to work in the garden, walk the dog, play a sport, or the morning or evening run. With more controlled stay-at-home schedules, now is the perfect time to include your choice of enjoyable physical activity.
Spinning or jazzercise are on-line activities you can enjoy in the safety of your own home with a sociably shared experience. Outdoor activities – like hiking, yard work, golf or tennis, or walking your favorite track with the dog are shareable while social distancing.
Masks aren’t necessary outside (except in close quarters – in a crowd, playing close contact sports, sitting or standing close to people you don’t know). Go out and enjoy it – every day.
Caution: food choices are also part of your physical health maintenance. In confinement, bingeing on junk food is a great temptation. Don’t do it. Choose foods that help maintain your ideal weight and balanced nutrition.
Don’t forget your spiritual health. Schedule a time-out to center yourself. See the crisis of the moment within the larger picture of life. Gain perspective; take a much-needed deep breath. Taking a break promotes good mental and spiritual health.
If we know we are loved, accepted, and cared for by God – however we conceive of Him, this further increases our sense of peace and rest, increases our confidence to deal with whatever is happening, pandemic or no pandemic. (If you haven’t already, now is an excellent time to seek a relationship with God.)
With your immediate family or your larger spiritual support group (via electronics), spiritual interaction is shareable. According to health studies, this is the most powerful promotor of health – social connection with a spiritual support group. In this current crisis, many find connections with such spiritual groups is the calming balm they need for life.
Finally, social health: difficult in a time of isolation and social distancing. If you have a loving relationship with those in your home, you already have a ready source of touch and personal attention. But remember: the other three areas of health are shareable – which is the secret to your social health. Sharing your mental pursuits, your physical activity, or your spiritual experience strengthens you socially and emotionally. Reach outside of yourself. Share what you know and what you do, pandemic or no pandemic.
During a pandemic or any crisis, don’t abandon your health goals and strategies. Don’t binge on food, videos, or anything else. Stay balanced. Re-assess your goals and strengthen your time commitment to maintaining your health – in all four areas. You will thank yourself later.
Max Hammonds, MD (retired), MPH.