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‘Step back’

Rejuvenation is essential during the pandemic

Lisa Fitch Editor-in-Chief | 7/10/2020, midnight
A swarm of locusts and a dust storm in Africa; protests against racism..

A swarm of locusts and a dust storm in Africa; protests against racism worldwide; and a pandemic that isn’t finished with us yet. What could be next?

“It all makes you step back and say ‘O.K.’” said former ER doctor, now medical director for the Oasis Wellness and Rejuvenation Center in Florida, Dr. Eudene Harry. And she stresses the importance of stepping back. “Because we’re all under it. Sometimes it can seem so completely overwhelming.”

Although stepping back is not always easy and we want to keep informed about what’s going on, it’s important to take stock of yourself frequently, Harry said, to prevent the long-term effects of traumatizing our nervous system, becoming stressed, suffering high blood pressure and possible stroke.

“We’ve watched one too many news stories, engaged in one too many media events,” she said. “I do believe there are small steps we can take. Find time in your day or week, whatever time schedule works for you - where you disengage. Give your nervous system a chance to recover from it. Because if you’re constantly engaging in that stress and distress system, you will be overcome. Ultimately we burn out.”

“The analogy I like to use is that your brakes go out,” Harry said. “If you have a car, you know your brakes go out much sooner than the accelerator. You have to give your body a chance to do that. To break. That’s what disengaging does.”

Harry suggests one quick way to disengage from the “stuff” going on around us is to engage with nature.

“You and I don’t need to go to Turks and Caicos (islands) to do this,” Harry said. “We can find something in and around our area. “Exposure to nature really does help us. Just 10 or 15 minutes in nature on a daily basis would be great, ideally. Some people might call it grounding. Going out and eating lunch under a tree. Going to a park and just staring out at the beauty. Taking a walk, seeing the greenery.

“Some studies suggest even engaging with a visual of nature - a huge painting - can give us that relief,” she said.

To fight those feelings of helplessness, Harry suggests focusing on simple things.

“You can still wash your hands, wear a mask and social distance,” Harry said. “You can still disengage and take your deep breaths, yes you can. An easy thing to do is look around you at people you admire who are helping. Then you can engage with them. That can be as simple as sending them a thank you note, making a donation, volunteering, protesting. You’ll feel less helpless.”

Harry said that it’s most important to take care of yourself as much as you can and get enough sleep so you don’t compromise your immune system. Eating well is something people can control and feel less helpless.

“Staying up and watching the news until midnight is not conducive,” she said. “It will still be there in the morning.”