Always focused on wellness — and particularly in this time of coronavirus — the UNLV School of Medicine has several suggestions for remaining healthy.
First, of course, you should follow all of the COVID-19 prevention guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Because anxiety and stress can significantly impact immunity, the school has compiled some ideas from a variety of resources that may help you relax.
BREATHE: Sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes or softly gaze at the floor. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you breathe in through your nose think of the word "soft" and as you exhale, think of the word "belly." As you continue to breathe this way, notice your abdomen and notice it feeling soft and relaxed. When we breathe this way, our vagus nerve is taking us out of fight-or-flight and back into the present moment. Continue to breathe this way. If thoughts come, let them come and return back to the words "soft" and "belly."
MIND/BODY MEDICINE GROUPS: Email Dr. Anne Weisman, the School of Medicine's director of wellness, to sign up for online mind/body medicine groups. These groups will be for eight weeks, two hours a week, and limited to eight-12 people per group. Mind/body medicine teaches us skills to regulate our nervous systems naturally and easily. As we fill the groups, we will pick the day of the week and times that work best for you.
STAY PRESENT: The tenet of mindfulness is to bring your awareness into the present moment. Try not to fast forward or rewind right now by imagining the future or going back into the past. Be where your feet are and bring your awareness into the present moment.
SLEEP: Please use these days to practice self-care. Get your seven to nine hours of sleep and feel proud about hitting that benchmark. Guess what sleep does for your immunity?
JOURNAL: Write for a few minutes. Some prompts include: Write three things you are grateful for; Write a dialogue with a symptom, issue, or concern. Use this prompt as if you were writing a script and think of what comes up for you and then ask it a question. Write freely for five to seven minutes.
KEEP MOVING: You can still go outside for a walk. Go for lots of walks outside. Here is what walking does for your immune system. And here's what nature does for your immune system. Each of us will be dealing with this new level of stress. Moving keeps your immunity up and the sunshine is great for vitamin D. Many exercise streaming services are currently offering free access, too, such as Daily Burn, Les Mills, and PVolve.
GET THINGS DONE: Clean out a closet, your cabinets, or your car. Set items aside to donate later.
LEARN: Use this time to learn something new. Watch instructional videos on cooking, baking, gardening, playing a musical instrument, writing a screenplay, or any topic you've always wondered about.
PAMPER: Do a face mask, meditate, stretch, or nap!
CRAFT: Paint, draw, doodle, color, scrapbook. It's all mindful and meditative in nature.
CONNECT: FaceTime, phone, text your family and friends. Write a letter to an elder or a soldier. Set up Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime chats to connect with your friends, family, and colleagues.
LAUGH: Try to find something that lightens your day whether it’s a movie, TV show, meme, or cat video! Laughter is the best medicine.
PLAY WITH YOUR PETS: Think about how happy your pets are that you are home. Play with them and enjoy the love they always give you.
Finally, here is a story that Walk With A Doc sent this week along with some of the tips included above:
There's an iconic nephrologist in Columbus named Lee Hebert, MD. He told us a story on kidney rounds I will never forget. Thousands of years ago, on a gorgeous tropical island, all the trees were talking amongst themselves. A horrible, deadly storm was scheduled to pass through that night. The oak trees said, "We're Mighty Oaks, we're going to stand tall and strong. Nothing is going to mess with us!"
The palm trees said, "So this thing is just supposed to last a few hours? We'll just lean over and let the storm come through." Well, the storm came as scheduled and the following morning there wasn't a single oak within 75 miles of this island. That same morning, every single palm tree yawned, rubbed its eyes, stood tall, and looked around at all its beautiful palm tree neighbors.
Let's be palm trees together.