Get Out of Your Rut

-by facial plastic surgeon Heather Lee, MD

As many of us have practiced social distancing measures for the last couple of months, the uncertainty and apprehension of the coronavirus pandemic has mixed with the stressors of new life at home.  We have cooked and baked our way through endless recipes and as we start nearing the end of our project lists, many find themselves restless or waning in motivation.

For those of you who are at home during this time, here are some strategies to help get you out of the rut:

  • Have a schedule: It is easy for time to slip away when there’s nothing to keep you accountable.  For many of us, we no longer participate in the activities that not only kept us busy throughout the day, but served as markers of time.  These days, weekdays and weekends all feel the same.  Bring structure to your day.  Set an alarm, plan your day, and stick with it.
  • Get out of your pajamas!: Motivation and focus can quickly deteriorate to an all-day pajama-wearing Netflix binge session.  Just as putting on a uniform can help people mentally focus for their job, so does dressing for the day.  Feeling fresh and awake will help get you ready to tackle the day physically and mentally.
  • Move!: Since we are no longer going to our gyms, studios, and exercise classes, both our mental and physical well-being can suffer.  Although it may take some adjustment, find ways to move more!  We walk in our neighborhood regularly, and it has been an unexpected pleasure to see and meet so many more of our neighbors who are out and about.  If you are over your neighborhood walks/runs and need a change of pace, look online.  Just about every exercise facility is offering online classes or teleconferencing classes to stay in touch with friends and stay in shape.  So whether it’s an online tai chi or Zumba class, or the newest TikTok dance, have fun with it!
  • Set aside time for yourself: That means find dedicated time for yourself.  Schedule some downtime to read or meditate or whatever it is you need to recharge.  Reach out to family and friends.  Do something nice for yourself.  These seemingly small acts have a positive cumulative effect on mood and well-being because you are taking care of yourself, mind and body!
  • Sleep!: Upended schedules can wreak havoc on your sleep.  And we all know how important good, quality sleep is for wellness.  It allows our brains to rest and reset while consolidating information and memories.  Adhering to a schedule can help promote good sleep hygiene, so there’s another reason to stick with it!
  • Find something to do: It is important to find new ways to stimulate our minds, and a great way to do so is to do something!  Anything!  Think creatively to exercise your brain – develop a talent or learn a new skill!  Creativity enables your mind to travel outside the confines of your home.  So whether it’s writing, crafting, or making music, do what brings you joy!  And find ways to utilize technology and social platforms to do so with others!

Social distancing to me means getting up close with nature.  Spring is here!  Flowers are pushing through the earth, and buds are welling up ready to burst.  If there was ever a time to be optimistic about the future, it is this spring!  So get out and hike with your dog, break out the shovel and get in your garden.  After a long hard winter, I am always in awe in the spring.  Life is resilient!  And so are we!

  • Community outreach: The coronavirus has put more stress on vulnerable groups in our communities.  But even with social distancing measures, we can help.  Call and check on neighbors, particularly those who are elderly and live alone.  Drop off groceries and supplies to those who may need it.  Get online and see how you can help your community.  Support the World Health Organization.  Donate to help Foodlink keep our local school children fed.

For all the essential workers who risk their safety to keep us well and make life possible for those of us at home, we are forever grateful and thank you so much.  We will continue to support you as you help us.

Everyone, be safe!  Be smart!  We will get through this together and come out stronger and better in the end!

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