I often write about the things I need to hear myself. I consider myself blessed with good health, and not among those greatly impacted by our current situation with the Coronavirus, and I am grateful that the incidence rate has been relatively low in our county and environs.

Nonetheless, when I think of the big picture and all so incredibly affected by this situation, I am feeling what I call the COVID-19 Blues. I’ll share a few easy tips today that we can use to support and uplift our mood.

The first thing that comes to mind is exercise. When we move, our body produces feel-good chemicals. Getting out in nature to exercise enhances this process. According to the researchers at the Mayo Clinic:

Regular exercise may help ease depression and anxiety by:

Releasing feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids) and other natural brain chemicals can enhance your sense of well-being.

Taking your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety.

Regular exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits, too. It can help you:

Gain confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.

Get more social interaction. Exercise and physical activity may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.

Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage depression or anxiety is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how you feel, or hoping depression or anxiety will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptoms.”

Socializing in a safe and respectful way is a great idea. Reach out to friends, plan a driveway meet-up, wear your masks and keep a safe distance. A friend invited me to meet him for coffee, we’ll go through the drive-thru, stay in our vehicles and visit from a safe distance. A study from the National Institute of Health (NIH) indicates that we increase our levels of feel-good hormone serotonin when we interact socially. 

Mindfulness meditation is my last recommendation for today. On the City of Eugene website they share these meditation pearls: 

“Mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention to the present moment: on purpose, through your five senses, and non-judgmentally.

Our brains are constantly firing on all cylinders, and it can be exhausting.

While meditation is an effective way to train your brain to be calmer, happier and more resilient in times of stress, you don’t necessarily have to sit in extended mindfulness meditation to reap many benefits mindfulness can offer.

Research suggests that as little as 5-10 minutes of daily mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve sleep, and increase our overall sense of well-being. If it’s hard to carve out 10 minutes, you can use multiple moments throughout the day – brushing your teeth, walking, standing in the elevator, eating lunch – to practice a mindful pause.

Remember, the more you practice, the more it is there for you when you need it – to transition between meetings, to calm yourself from stress when it really counts, or to simply appreciate life as it’s happening. Start with the breath. And notice. Feel the breath rise and fall, fill and empty. Extend awareness out to the body. What do you feel? Where do you sense tension? What do you hear? See?”

As we inch toward opening our favorite restaurants, pubs and other businesses impacted by being closed for the last weeks, be careful, wear your masks as a sign of respect for others, and let’s as a community support these folks as they open their doors and return to serving their neighbors. Salud!  

You can reach Yaakov, a functional nutritional therapy practitioner, at [email protected]