How This Integrative Medicine Doctor Is Staying Healthy Right Now
Fears about COVID-19 combined with social isolation can lead to high levels of anxiety. So how can we maintain both our mental and physical health during these uncertain times? According to integrative medicine doctor Amy Shah, M.D., spending time in nature can help.
As someone who loves socializing while exercising, the adjustment to working out from home has been challenging for Shah. "There's nowhere to go and no one to see," she told us. "One thing I've been trying to do is go on walks or ride bikes in nature."
Since sheltering in place limits opportunities for escape, like coffee shops, restaurants, or gyms, getting outside is one way to keep from feeling cooped up. More than that, nature has been proven to help reduce stress—something many of us are experiencing now more than ever.
"Not only does it boost your mood, but it lowers your cortisol levels as well," Shah said. "Going somewhere that's isolated but has greenery is one thing I've increased over the last couple of days."
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As someone who lives in a sunny climate, Shah recognizes getting out in nature isn't quite as enjoyable for others. However, the fresh air and change of scenery are still important, regardless of the weather.
If it's raining, she recommends putting on your raincoat or grabbing an umbrella, walking in between the raindrops. "Whatever works, just do it," she said.
Now that people are working from home, (assuming you're not using video chat), "you have the flexibility to take your work calls while on a walk," she said. If getting outside while working will be too distracting, then make it your first priority at the end of the day.
Call a friend, a family member, or someone you know who lives alone and might need a chat. Walking and talking is a great way to feel connected to others and the world around you.
"If you can't take 20 minutes, just go for 15," Shah said. "If you can't take 15, then make it 10." No matter how long (or short) you choose to spend in good ol' Mother Nature, hopefully it will bring you some relief.