Page 8 - BusinessWest January 20, 2021
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  overwhelming sentiment BusinessWest heard from health and wellness experts in the region is this: help is available. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Take Control — but Know When to Let Go
Navarro said much of the anxiety and depression related to the pan- demic has to do with isolation — and not just physical isolation.
“We’re asking people to physically isolate,” Navarro said. “What’s more concerning is when we emotionally disconnect from people — the inability to reach out, or to get the support we need when we feel we need it.”
Kenton agreed. “Our lives have been completely turned upside- down. We’re supposed to be social beings; that’s part of our underlying nature. Now everyone has lost that element. We have elderly people who have been completely isolated and haven’t seen loved ones since March.”
It doesn’t help that many things people like to do to escape from their troubles — and get some exercise — have been eliminated or limited.
“Our lives have been completely
turned upside-down. We’re supposed
to be social beings; that’s part of our
underlying nature. Now everyone has
lost that element.” DR. MARK KENTON
“They gain weight, they don’t eat well, they get depressed or drink more alcohol. It’s a vicious cycle,” he said. “We already have difficult winters in the Northeast, between the snow and the cold; we can’t do much of anything, and now we’re completely isolated at home. We can’t even take a trip to Florida with the family for a week to get away from the cold weather.”
That said, many activities are still possible, Navarro said.
“What is it you like to do? If we’re able to continue to do those things that we enjoy doing, we can feel better,” she explained. “And also, what in this situation can you control? We know that COVID is out of our control. So, what is it that you can control in that context? Maybe the only thing you can control is wearing your mask outside and not being around other people. So control that piece, and have ownership over what you are able to do.”
Alane Burgess, clinic director at BestLife, tells clients to take some time every single day — even if it’s just 10 minutes, although 30 min- utes would be better — to “relax and rejuvenate.”
“That means, allow yourself to take that step back from everything that’s going on — all the fears, the worries, and the anxieties — and do something that makes you feel really good about yourself. Maybe it’s
a hobby or activity, or doing a teleconference with a family member
or a loved one or somebody who is really going to make you feel good about yourself. That way, you can focus on the good feelings that some people are losing in the midst of the isolation and all the things in our lives that we can’t control.”
Wilburn promotes mindfulness, meditation, healthy eating, and a host of other ways in which people have the power to change their health and mindset — and, again, she’s a believer in the two being intertwined holistically. At a time when the world presents so many reasons to be anxious — and, if you read the news these days, it’s not just COVID-19 — she wants to teach people self-care.
“We don’t know about that as Americans,” Nascimento added. “Or we think it’s selfish. ‘Push harder, push harder, don’t take vacations.’ We’re teaching people you can work hard, but your play should be self- care — taking a long walk, getting body work done, taking five minutes to meditate.”
It’s important, Wilburn noted, because, even in better times, Ameri- cans too often live in fight-or-flight mode.
“Our nervous systems think we’re running away from a tiger, which means we’re not properly digesting our food, our heart rate doesn’t come down, and we’re not sleeping as
well, because if you’re running away from
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    a tiger, why would you be sleeping?”
She and Nascimento say people need
Continued on page 44
 8 JANUARY 20, 2021

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