Words like apocalypse and Armageddon spring to mind! We’ve had to shut the clinic. We’re not saving lives. By continuing to work we would be endangering them. It’s a no brainer… despite what our insurance company might say!
As a team of dedicated Physiotherapists and Sports Therapists we’re well used to helping people stay physically and emotionally well. So we’re going to give you everything we’ve got on how to look after yourselves during this peculiar time of isolation.
1. Prepare Your Immune System
Now I don’t want to be the harbinger of doom here but realistically a lot of people reading this will end up with Corona Virus. Please, don’t shoot the messenger! It’s what the stats are saying. Our lives currently seem to be hanging on stats. While the rest of this article is mostly focused on positives we should all get ourselves in the best shape possible to vade off the evil disease should we get it.
The first piece of advice is a reminder of the stuff you already now. Look after yourself. Eat well, avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugar and keep active (more on this one shortly).
Another option some of you may have heard of is the The Wim Hof Method. Wim is often referred to as The Ice Man. His work basically goes along the premise that by a regime of meditation, breathing and cold exposure we can improve our own immune systems.
The current research seems to show his findings to be true, although larger study cohort are required and in progress. One word of warning mind. If you are ill already DO NOT start the cold exposure. Perhaps the reason this works is it challenges your immune system to grow like muscles would. So if your immune system is busy fighting something off already now is not the right time.
Anecdotally I’ve had many clients feel great on this regime. Anecdotally I also had one year round sea swimmer who just couldn’t shift their cold all winter. Each time they went in the icy winter sea their immune system couldn’t deal with it. Sea swimming is an option for experienced swimmers but a cold shower for a few minutes will suffice while we’re in isolation.
If you end up never getting corona virus all that will have happened is that you have improved your well-being. Win win.
2. Keep Active
Thankfully the British Government has recognised the importance of this for our physical and emotional well-being. We’re (at time of writing) still allowed to go out once per day to walk, cycle or run on our own or with people we live with. Let’s hope we can hang onto this for as long as possible.
Movement helps us in so many ways. It improves blood flow which helps regulate body temperature – an important help for the immune system. It also helps massage our internal organs. Encouraging them to do all the good things they do and removing toxins from our body. Toxins we will naturally have more of in stressful situations.
As to what kind of activity to do is entirely up to you. Whatever floats your boat. I would encourage you to give one of walking, running or cycling a go as it gets you out of the house. If like me you’re returning to a new exercise just start off slowly and start with low intensity short duration whilst your body adapts. Adaptation shouldn’t take too long and if you listen to your body it will let you know when you’ve done too much. And if you don’t you’ll be needing to see us as soon as we re-open!
Then of course there is the plethora of options online. Whatever activity you like search for it on youTube. (Other video search platforms do exist!) Pilates, yoga, high intensity training. There really is no excuse not to. We all have access to the technology let’s use it. As with outdoor exercises don’t go completely gung ho. Make sure you’re giving your body chance to recover between new exercise regimes.
For those a little more adventurous you could try The Art Of Motion body work. This merges the best of flow movements in with expert knowledge of how the body is connected as part of the bigger picture. It ties in with our beliefs at the clinic of looking at the whole body. I’ve tried a few myself and they feel great. Give it a go, let me know what you think.
3. Dealing With The Stress Of Isolation
I don’t think anyone is in denial these are stressful times. We might be stressed about getting corona, passing it onto family or simply stressed about spending time with family. Possibly a combination of all three.
We need to look after our stress levels. Not only for our general well-being but also to avoid increasing pain within our bodies. The simplest exercise for achieving this is breathing. Air is still free and readily available. Providing we’re all self-isolating it shouldn’t be full of the corona virus! We talk in detail about how to do relaxation breathing and it’s benefit in our specific breathing Blog here.
We currently find ourselves in a very odd situation. As humans we like routine. We’re not great at change – although it’s important to help us grow. Right now we need to find the right balance between creating a new routine that works for us physically and emotionally and include interesting variation. All within the isolation limitations we have forced upon us.
Yoga is well known for its positive impact on stress. There’s a great 20 minute documentary on how it works here. As well as yoga youtube there’s an excellent library of classes available at Do Yoga With Me. There’s loads of free classes there and I’ve just seen they’re doing two free months to help mellow us through the corona pandemic.
4. Work On The Physical
For those of us lucky enough to not be affected by the corona virus (at least yet) this is a huge development opportunity. We have more time to try different activities. Or focus more on ones we already enjoy. Granted we may not be able to do some we really would prefer to do, but it’s always better to focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t. This is one of the underlying principles of physiotherapy.
We’ve already spoken about lots of exercise options but how about improving performance, reducing pain and moving better. Normally you’d need to come and see us to do this. But seeing as we’re unavailable how about doing some of our treatments yourself?
One of our approaches we use at the clinic that gives you a real spring in your step and is relatively easy to implement is Muscle Activation. You can find a simple self-treatment guide from the founder of this approach here. I hope you’re not going to be as good at as we are – otherwise we’re going to be completely out of business! It’s a nice introduction to helping you in the first few steps of the process of re-aligning your body. Self-treatment is never going be as good as the real deal but it will help.
5. Work On The Emotional
What better time to work on our old baggage than now when we’re forced to slow our lives down. Let’s work on feeling as positive as we can in these difficult time. Dig out that self-help book you’ve been meaning read for ages. Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway sounds like a very suitable title right now!
My current favourite which I’ve just finished reading is from my friend and life coach Alexander Butler. His book title almost pre-empted this whole thing: 12 Words That Will Set You Free: Finding Confidence Purpose And Passion In Troubling Times.
His work give an excellent perspective on life and acts as a spring board to understand yourself better and inspire you to work on those weak areas we all have.
6. Use Technology And Media Well
I always consider technology a mixed blessing. Let’s start with the positive. I’ve rediscovered Skype after a 10 year layoff. I understand Zoom is an excellent video calling platform. I’ll find out next week when I speak to a new client over it. Technology is a great way to beat the isolation.
Everyone is speaking of being touched as old friends emerge from the woodwork and new ones cement their place in our lives. The best of human spirit in the toughest of times.
Being British we’re all missing the pub. There are ways around this. Boris has just had to add off-licences to the essential shop list! I’d personally recommend low alcohol drinks at the moment as per the points above regarding immune function. But from a social perspective why not organise a pub quiz over Skype, Zoom or House Party.
The possibilities are endless. We can use the platforms just mentioned to enable us to speak to our friends in groups just like down the pub. This gives a sense of connection that we would otherwise be lacking due to current, understandable, limitation placed upon us.
Social media comes into its own at times like these. There is so much positivity and community support being exuded from all social platforms.
There is of course always a yin to every yang. For all its positives social media can engender a lot of fear and increase anxiety levels. If you find yourself trawling feeds that are predicting the end of the world it’s probably not doing your stress levels any good.
The same can be said for media as a whole. Obviously we need to keep abreast of the situation to understand what we should and shouldn’t be doing. But watching endless news analysis really doesn’t change anything.
Focus on what you can do. The most important thing is that you take care of yourself, your family and friends. In that order. You’re really not helping if you’re melting into a sea of anxiety and snapping at everyone. Watching the government briefing each day should suffice in terms of keeping up with what’s required.
TV can be a great form of escapism. Who doesn’t like to vegetate in front of a bit of TV. But if you make it the sole focus of your life things don’t go so well. Try not to get consumed by Box Sets however good they are. Try to keep it varied and have a specific limit on how much TV you are watching and mix it around other activities.
7. Make The Best Of It
As best we can let’s make the best of a really bad situation. Whilst we’re all staying at home to protect others and protect the NHS from overload what could we be doing? What have you been meaning to do for ages? I’m pretty sure that by the end of all of this the gardens of the United Kingdom will have never looked better.
Enjoy spending time on your own. Enjoy spending time with the family. If you live alone enjoy reaching out to old friends or connecting better with new friends. Talk openly and freely about how you’re feeling and have conversations about anything other than corona.
Of course greater proximity to people may not always be a good thing. You may need to work hard to maintain your own space when you’re surrounded by your family more. Setting boundaries with partners, children and relatives about what you need and what you don’t want is imperative.
There’s an excellent book called Non Violent Communication all about how to diffuse tense situations to enable all parties to come away with something that they want. It’s been used in peace negotiations in the Middle East – after a few more weeks with the family this kind of approach could very useful up and down the land!
8. Managing Your Pain
All of above ideas comes from helping the public with pain. Things that we’ve seen work for many people in all walks of life to help manage their stress levels and pain. When we’re more stressed we feel more pain. It’s as simple as that. That is why I’ve tried to make this post a balance between the physical and emotional.
Even if we do all of the above a lot of us will inevitably struggle with this situation. That’s before we even consider people who will be losing loved ones. The above advice is really focusing on doing what we can. Some people will be very much unaffected. There will be a lot of people who will be affected.
As such I expect pain levels to ramp up across the nation and I think we will be a very busy clinic when we re-open. For anyone reading this who is already in pain I can’t recommend highly enough this pain recovery programme.
The programme explains the various contributing factors in pain – including stress, beliefs and immune function – and dissects complex ideas into easy to digest bite sized chunks. If you read this you’ll be more malleable and easier for us to fix when our doors re-open.
Firstly, thanks for reading. I hope you found at least one thing that you can implement that will help you with this situation. It would be even better if you find something will help you for the rest of your life.
I appreciate things are a little scary at the moment so if this post has in some way helped you feel more positive then I’ll be very happy.
If you are in pain and obviously would ideally be coming to see someone face to face then we may be able to help. If you would like us to help with a video assessment or just a chat to allay any fears you have over a physical condition please click the button below.
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