“I wanted to make a video where I can help you get through this difficult time as the best version of yourself.”
The coronavirus outbreak has meant the vast majority of us are stuck at home due to lockdowns and quarantine requirements. Given this has been going on for the better part of two months, many of us have started to notice effects not just on our physical health, but mentally as well.
For those looking for how to improve how they’re feeling, Mikhail Varshavski, better known as Doctor Mike, has some strategies on how to optimize our physical and mental health during this stressful time.
The first thing Dr. Mike tells us is to think of self-care as taking care of both our mind and body. “I don’t like that they’re separate words. It should be ‘mind-body’, [because] they’re so intimately connected,” he says.
“Any change you make to your mental health will show physical effects,” he continues. “Any change you make to your physical health will show mental effects.”
The first strategy Dr. Mike suggests is focusing on movement and the motivation needed to be active. While this can be difficult for some, given many of us are feeling sluggish and slow as a result of being stuck at home for two months, he encourages us to make use of our phones and use apps that can help build our motivation, such as those about meditation and mindfulness.
He then suggests we try to keep a routine. For those of us who have been furloughed, it’s likely any type of routine we had pre-pandemic has all but disappeared. We’ve been going to bed at weird hours or not sticking to regular meal schedules. As Mike explains, this can actually be detrimental to us, “That actually adds a layer of chaos to your life that your mind and body don’t like.” As such, he suggests we begin to build more routine into our day-to-day lives, in order to better help how we’re feeling.
It’s common for people to keep putting off tasks because they can’t find the willpower to complete them or find them too daunting to attempt. Instead of thinking of each task as a monumental thing, Dr. Mike suggests cutting them down into smaller sections and checking them off as we go along. Even the smallest accomplishment can improve your willpower and want to continue!
The next thing Dr. Mike discusses is the need to stay social. “Physical distancing does not mean social isolation,” he explains. “Humans are social beings. We crave that type of connection.” While we may not be able to meet with friends and family face-to-face, he suggests using technology to keep in touch, whether that be a FaceTime call or a Skype video chat.
We as a species are known for our resilience, but it’s times like these that really show how we respond to adversity. As Dr. Mike explains, we need to celebrate this resilience:
“Humans are great at bouncing back from adversity, and a pandemic like this is the definition of adversity. In fact, what we’ve seen with scientific research is evidence of post-traumatic growth. So, while most humans, when they go through something traumatic, their baseline drops and then they can bounce back to normal once the adversity ends. But, in post-traumatic growth, you actually see this baseline drop off and then come up even higher, so we can come out of this pandemic as better humans, those who appreciate the things we once took for granted.”
Turing his focus to our physical health, Dr. Mike reminds us to keep our bodies in constant motion. Despite many of us not being able to go to the gym during this time, we’re still able to keep active using what we have at home. Don’t have any weights? Fill up your backpack and lift it. Appreciate what you have and know you don’t need fancy equipment to keep active.
“Everything I’m explaining to you is about being adaptable, leaning into uncertainty and making use of what you have,” he explains.
The final strategy Dr. Mike suggests is simple: play. As he shares, humans need play, something that’s individualised to one’s needs and interests, and that can be improvised depending on the situation.
Through that, and the other tips he lays out in the video, we can keep both our physical and mental health in good shape, and help recharge our bodies during this unpredictable time.