A Mental Health Check-In
Cultivating our health - physical and mental - requires additional attention this year.
Says WHO: “This year’s World Mental Health Day, on 10 October, comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The past months have brought many challenges: for health-care workers, providing care in difficult circumstances, going to work fearful of bringing COVID-19 home with them; for students, adapting to taking classes from home, with little contact with teachers and friends, and anxious about their futures; for workers whose livelihoods are threatened; for the vast number of people caught in poverty or in fragile humanitarian settings with extremely limited protection from COVID-19; and for people with mental health conditions, many experiencing even greater social isolation than before. And this is to say nothing of managing the grief of losing a loved one, sometimes without being able to say goodbye.”
In the spirit of coping and even thriving in what has proved to be a very different year, here are three acts we likely have larger capacity for this year. Carpe diem!
01. Long Walks
It’s been said before but the moment feels especially right. What’s not to love about walking? It’s free, easy to do, and easy on the joints. The physical health benefits are numerous, including lower risk of blood clots (since the calf acts as a venous pump), contracting and pumping blood from the feet and legs back to the heart, reducing the load on the heart.
On the emotional front, walking is a mood lightener, releasing natural pain-killing endorphins to the body. Studies have also found that women, ages 50 to 75, who took one-hour morning walks, were more likely to relieve insomnia than women who didn’t walk. When’s the last time you came back from a walk in a worse mood than when you started off?
The kicker? A slow down in mental decline. A study of 6,000 women, ages 65 and older, performed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that age-related memory decline was lower in those who walked more. The women walking 2.5 miles per day had a 17% decline in memory, as opposed to a 25% decline in women who walked less than a half-mile per week. Grab a mask, your headphones and go! (Source: Arthritis Foundation)