Coronavirus Lockdown Wellness
Well….these sure are challenging times that have descended upon us all.
There is plenty of official information out regarding what we should all be doing during this time….and plenty of unofficial people also producing information (rightly or wrongly).
I shall not be preaching on any of that!
What I thought may be useful however, is some relevant, practical information (only from my area of expertise of course) of how you can make the most of your time at home to ensure optimal health & wellness.
First, lets look at pain.
The chances are that you originally came across me because you were experiencing some level of pain, and you may or may not be experiencing pain or discomfort at present.
If we take a quick look at how pain works, we will soon see that over the coming weeks and months we may well find that we are experiecing more than usual. Whether aching shoulders, low back pain, sciatic symptoms – ANY pain symptoms may be amplified.
The BIOPSYCHOSOCIAL model.
This simply breaks down the 3 factos that can influence pain:
- Biological (Physical)
Pain is a complex, multifactorial experience. It is never as simple as ‘my shoulder hurts therefore I have damaged my shoulder’.
We can experience pain even if we have NO physical damage. It is best to think of pain as a warning signal rather than an indication of damage. What’s more, pain can be altered by purely our perception of what may be wrong.
So lets take each of those 3 categories and briefly look at what they mean:
The classic, generally understood, component. This could be overdoing something, such as heavy lifting. Once you surpass your body’s tolerance level the nervous system may become irritated and pain will be the result. Think of it as your brain telling you ‘You’d better stop!’ Biological input would also be a muscle tear or trauma i.e sports injury.
This is a HUGE factor. Often neglected as people focus on the physical elements. But as it happens, pain is strongly influenced by psychology. The way we think affects how we feel. For example, our belief systems. We may associate pain with certain activities, which leads to fear avoidance. This can have a massive effect. In practical terms, someone may feel discomfort when bending to pick something up. This could lead them to avoid bending forward altogether. The problem is, bending over is not dangerous, it is just temporarily sensitive for that person. By avoiding that movement altogether the consequences are going to grow. That movement will continue to sensitise, the movement capacity of the person will reduce, and the cycle continues. Also, stress can act to ‘turn up the volume’ on pain. Due to the hormonal response to stress on the nerves that detect ‘danger’ in the body. So any discomfort we may be experiencing is sure to be amplified when our stress levels increase.
Lastly, but importantly given the current climate, this relates to how social factors can influence pain. For example, a runner who’s social life revolves around running may have to cease from running after sustaining an injury. Not only are they unable to do what they love, but they are cut off from their social activity/potential friendship group, which can lead to loss of identity, increased feelings of isolation, low mood. All feeding into the pain experience.
Hopefully that all makes sense (it is a difficult topic to simplify in such a brief manner!).
How is this all relevant? Well, in 3 simple sentences:
1. We are going to be restricted from a lot of our usual activities – gyms, sports clubs, fitness classes etc.
2. We are experiencing high stress levels due to uncertainty of work, finances, health.
3. We are isolated from our usual lifestyle, families, hobbies.
During this difficult period, every element of the biopsychosocial model has significant drivers that will all affect how we feel.
Now, I am not suggesting that we can eliminate any pain ad discomfort that we may feel. But there sure are ways that we can look after ourselves and reduce the negative consequences of our current reality.
- Find time to focus on things that we enjoy. Reading, watching a movie, country walks, listening to music. Ensuring we don’t overstimulate ourselves with a constant barrage of virus input!
- Exercise. Movement. Whatever it may be. Whatever you enjoy. Get your body moving, reap the physical benefits of increased strength and fitness, reduce pain, reduce stress and anxiety leverl, improve sleep quality. The list can keep running for this one.
Over the next few blog posts I shall be sharing some ways that I use to keep fit and active in the confines of my home. Stay tuned!