Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Finding Your Best Self During Uncertain Times: A Guide to Wellness During (and After) the COVID-19 Pandemic

Marawan M. El Tayeb, MD
Endourologist (Urology Subspecialist)
Baylor Scott and White Health
Clinical Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University College of Medicine 
Member, TMA Leadership College

Over the past five months, COVID-19 has put an enormous amount of pressure on almost everybody. Although we do not know when, the pandemic will end. Many people will go back to work soon as more states like Texas reopen, but everything will feel different. You may find yourself obligated to work more. Regardless, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with work responsibilities, family obligations, or financial burdens. Here are some tips to help you navigate this challenging time.

Well-Being of Self: Putting Yourself First

Your well-being is vital. It sets the tone for your outlook on your goals, your career, and your relationships. If you are not taking care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of others.  
  • Eat healthy and cook your own food. If you must eat out, try to pick healthy food options.
  • Go to sleep early and get enough quality sleep. 
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water is one of the best things you can do for your body, as it regulates body temperature, protects your organs and tissues, and helps rid your body of waste, among many benefits.
  • Visit your primary care physicians to make sure that your health is good; control your blood pressure and blood sugar if there is a problem. Don’t be hesitant about going to the doctor for a wellness visit or to treat a preexisting condition. Physicians are still here to help you, and many practices have set safety protocols to keep patients and staff safe. 
  • Adding onto that, reach out to mental health resources for conditions like anxiety and depression. Mental health is just as essential as physical health. There are a number of mental health services available at low to no cost
  • Limit watching TV. (That will save you plenty of time for the next tip.)
  • Make a routine of exercising every day. You can save time by exercising at home. I have a small gym in my garage; I wake up every day at 5:15 am and spend 45 minutes on strength training and 15 minutes on cardio. If you don’t have the equipment, you can do bodyweight workouts. Many gyms, studios, and fitness trainers are offering free online workout options as well
  • Spend at least 30 minutes outdoors every day; walk, run, or bike. 
  • Plan your workday ahead of time. Despite popular belief, multitasking is counterproductive. Instead, prioritize your tasks each day (preferably the day before) so you know exactly what needs to be done. A notable example of this is setting aside time, perhaps half an hour each day, to reply to all your emails at one time, rather than all day long. 
  • Stick firmly to a work-life balance. Go home as soon as you finish your work. If you’ve been working from home because of the pandemic, remember to “sign off” at the end of your workday and turn your attention to life outside work.

Well-Being of Others 
When you take better care of yourself physically and mentally, you can care for others in a more effective way too. 

New Perspectives 

The pandemic has changed how we go about day-to-day life. There’s a good chance it will change how we go about life in the long-term, too. 
  • Allow this time to love what you do, try to find meaning in it, and seek the bright side. Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Dr. Viktor Frankl applied this concept while imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II and wrote about it in his memoir, Man’s Search For Meaning.  
  • The pandemic creates an opportunity to do a long-term assessment of your finances, whether that means revising your budget, starting an emergency fund, or building upon your retirement plan. Everyone’s current financial situation is different, but we can all take productive steps to plan for the future.
Again, we don’t know when the COVID-19 pandemic will be over, or at least be less of a threat to society. Medical experts believe COVID-19 is here to stay for at least the next two years – or at least until researchers develop a vaccine and/or treatment for the virus. We can’t control the pandemic, but we can control how we respond to it. If we utilize this time to take care of ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally, we will be better equipped to endure this period. 

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