This week, Maureen has written her insights and advice about healthy living during the COVID-19 pandemic, see below. We are inspired daily by our patients’ resilience and determination during these uncertain times. Many of them have been feeling down, frustrated and out of sorts, as most of us have. Yet, even changing one small thing can create a different outlook and sense of well-being. I encourage you all to think of one thing to do this weekend that would make you feel good, whether it’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual…anything that gives you a sense of purpose or accomplishment. We are thinking of you and with you in spirit. Never, ever give up on your health and wellness!
We Are with You
In talking to the patients and thinking about what is going on with me and food – I believe our relationship with food has changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. Before, we could go to the grocery shops and buy whatever we wanted; we had time and we could make wise choices if we felt like it and feel proud of ourselves for doing those things. We are now going grocery shopping or getting grocery orders much less often. What I have been suggesting to patients is to plan their meals well before they shop and just focus on the food, they need to buy to stay healthy and well. It was hard enough for patients to choose healthy foods before, but now there are shortages of different foods and so patients are felling a lack, or a loss, or a loss of a sense of freedom with this pandemic.
They are finding it’s been hard not to grab the carbs or junk food, because they are feeling food-deprived or choice-deprived, or just plain deprived because of all the social isolation and the changes it has imposed on their lives. I have been to encourage them to think of this as a time to get back on track and look after their health. I am trying to be positive and say we are getting into better weather, and so walking (or simply being) outside is healthy – even if we do have to follow physical distancing rules. At least we are out and breathing fresh air.
I am strategizing with many patients who are scared. We come up with ideas like trying to walk to the end of your driveway and back. How about going a little further and see if you can go to the end of your property? Then, maybe around go to the end of the block block and gradually realize it is safe and build it up. People are needing tiny goals to reach for; ones they can be proud of. Even if they think it does not feel like much, it is better than nothing and gives a sense of accomplishment and purpose. I am also trying to get them to think about routines. If they can get up in the morning, get ready for the day and plan the day, it helps to keep a wee bit of structure. Some patients are discovering old or new hobbies. Some are venturing out into their garden, bird watching or finding whatever used to give them joy. We need different things to think about and do. One lady told me her daughter was a massage therapist and teaching her mom and dad exercises to do at home.
So in all these conversations with patients, it is like trying to help them find a new path in this already hard road of trying to eat healthy and be healthy, despite the physical distancing. I still feel that the compounding factor is a different relationship with food. Once the food is secured into the house in these Covid19 times, the food is then available. It is now in sight, in mind; as compared to previous strategies of being out of sight, out of mind: For example, when people are at work and out and about, the food is not as readily available. So now, patients are having to use even more discipline in keeping with their healthy food choices.
I know I push journaling all the time. But it is even more important now when food is so available. It is an eye-opener to journal honestly and become more mindful of what we are eating. It is a powerful tool to create awareness, and jotting down our feelings/experiences with the food can help us get more in tune with why we might be eating as well.
So, if times were hard for our patients before COVID19, they are tougher now. It is helpful if people can set up a practical schedule. Many find that getting back to Intermittent Fasting is helpful. It benefits some people to not eat during prescribed hours (for me, 6pm to 6am; for others, it might be 6pm to 10am, or longer). I find I still must stick to a schedule when the schedule no longer involves work and out-of-the-house activities except for walking. I find when there is no schedule, there is less discipline in looking after one’s health. So this COVID-19 has caused loads of dilemmas – I won’ t even go into all the people dying and being so ill, but I am just focusing on all the living people trying to stay healthy within the reality of COVID-19, and trying to do their best within that reality.
We are staying connected with our patients, and we continue to support, encourage and listen. Many have worked through incredible difficulties and worked to change their perspectives, which has been awesome.
So, all we can do is still try to be supportive, caring, empathetic and genuine with one ourselves and one another, and also be real; this COVID-19 has sure reinforced in me that we are our patients, more than I have ever realized since I started on Dr. Bishop’s program myself, July 29, 2002. It is extremely hard in this time of COVID-19, and all of us need to continue to try and do the best we can within the reality.
Stay well and safe and healthy!