Posted: April 1, 2020 in: Depression, Health

BODY-MIND AND THE CORONAVIRUS ~ Kathi Fairbend Guest Post

The world is engulfed in confusion about Coronavirus data, guidelines, restrictions, sadness about those who have lost their lives and what will unfold in the future.

We have been inundated with instructions for disinfecting and hand washing, along with endless reflections on the stress of schedule changes for families.

Millions of Americans used to de-stress at the gym.  For now, that isn’t an option.

All of this increases the potential for anxiety and depression.  But here’s one insight I hope will be helpful:  You have a great alternative to the gym, right at home.  Our bodies are by far the best piece of exercise equipment!  The Body-Mind approach is all about using simple exercises that require no equipment, in order to relieve anxiety and help prevent depression.

The exercises I share with my clients improve physique, posture and mood.  I say they help people stand up to depression.  Certainly, there is ample scientific evidence to prove that posture affects mood, and mood affects posture.

While at home for this extended period, anyone can learn the life skill of sound posture to improve mood, as you gain flexibility, strength, ease of movement, balance and poise.  It’s another way to turn today’s pain into tomorrow’s power.

All this can be accomplished with daily stretching exercises at home, any time of the day. If you are home schooling your children, perhaps this could be gym time for them.

Here is one very simple and effective stretching exercise to get you started. This exercise engages many large muscles and normal motor patterns we use every day- walking, running, climbing stairs and even doing daily chores.

 

OPPOSITE ARM AND LEG EXERCISE

Starting Position:

Lie on the floor with both knees bent and feet flat on floor (towel under head and neck if needed).

Place your arms at your side, with your palms down.

Allow your back to “settle” when you first lie down.

Picture your shoulders and hips like the wheels on your car—firmly on the ground.

Next:

Gently pull in your lower abdomen, deeply.  Do not use your hips or push down with your back.

Move your right arm straight up and overhead and slide (keeping your heel on the ground) your left leg out straight.

Pause.

Now, bring your right arm down and slide left leg up so your foot is again flat on the floor.

Then, move your left arm straight up and overhead and slide the right leg out straight.

Pause.

Bring your left arm down and slide right leg up so foot is again flat on the floor.

Alternate 5-10 repetitions each side.

There are more of these exercises in my book Stand Up to Depression.  It’s available online. I kept the price low, but if it is prohibitive for anyone, I can make the exercises and illustrations available to you at no cost during this challenging time.  Just make the request at [email protected]

 

Kathi Fairbend, MS RPT

Author, Physical Therapy and Ergonomic Consultant

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