During this unprecedented time, our daily schedules may have drastically changed, yet it gives us an opportunity to reflect on our health and wellness as individuals and as a community. With change and uncertainty, many of us may be holding onto stress, whether we are aware of it or not. We know that stress manifests in all kinds of ways, from raising blood pressure, to insomnia, eating habits, mood and to name a few. Now, more than ever, it’s important to use this time to refocus on yourself, your health and well-being. As a Doctor of Chiropractic, I see patients with many different sources of pain, and in my experience, I have observed how stress can exacerbate pain, even in a short duration. I have seen how stressors left unmanaged can make an entire body react and intensify one’s pain. Here are a few suggestions to a few healthful de-stressors and physical activities that allow you to pump endorphins throughout your bloodstream and get your mind, body and spirit back on track!
With the gyms and mountains closed, there are activities you can do at your house to stay active and challenge yourself. While weights or resistance bands can be great tools as we are spending more time on the couch or computer screens, simple bodyweight exercises are a great way to expend energy throughout the day. Bodyweight exercises not only build endurance and strength, they can also improve mobility, flexibility and proprioception (knowing where you are in space). Look at your house as a playground: can you safely skip a few steps as you go each trip up or down? Whenever an ad is on TV (or a pause in netflix) try to do 15 pushups or squats. Want to try something more challenging? Can you put your girlfriend (or child/furbaby) over your shoulders/back and do squats? Make it fun! I suggest focusing on areas you’ve noticed a decrease of motion, possibly from a previous injury or some nagging, chronic pain. For example, a great exercise to increase range of motion of the shoulders and mid back, is Wall Angels. This exercise is performed at first without weights, for numerous reps (15), 2-3x a day. To make this more challenging, you can tack on more reps, go through the movements slower or add light weights in your hands while doing these movements.
As far as non-physical pain though, we can often forget how wonderful a laugh is. What is so special about laughter is that it brings joy, releases endorphins, relieves stress, is a natural painkiller and brings back life (1, 2). People may vary on their type of humor, but there are numerous standup comedians, funny TV shows, or random internet articles. Self massage, or if you have a quarantine buddy, partner massages can have countless physical, psychosocial, and emotional benefits (3, 4). So grab your foam roller, tennis/lacrosse ball, etc and give yourself/your partner some love.
Last but not least, reach out to your friends, coworkers, fellow townies and loved ones. Allow technology to maintain or enhance the social network we have. If you have yet to explore the myriad of platforms we have to check upon another, take advantage of them. If you also live in the Roaring Fork valley, we are fortunate to have other great support systems in our community such as Triad EAP, Hope Center, and Mind Springs. I encourage us all to be open as individuals and as a community to support one another while we navigate these most unprecedented of times.
1. Louie D, Brook K, Frates E. The Laughter Prescription: A Tool for Lifestyle Medicine. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016;10(4):262–267. Published 2016 Jun 23. doi:10.1177/1559827614550279
2. Yoshikawa Y, Ohmaki E, Kawahata H, et al. Beneficial effect of laughter therapy on physiological and psychological function in elders. Nurs Open. 2018;6(1):93–99. Published 2018 Jul 18. doi:10.1002/nop2.190
3. Castro-Sánchez AM, Matarán-Peñarrocha GA, Granero-Molina J, Aguilera-Manrique G, Quesada-Rubio JM, Moreno-Lorenzo C. Benefits of massage-myofascial release therapy on pain, anxiety, quality of sleep, depression, and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:561753. doi:10.1155/2011/561753
4. Morhenn, V., Beavin, L. E., & Zak, P. J. (2012). Massage increases oxytocin and reduces adrenocorticotropin hormone in humans. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23251939