After this prolonged period of stress, one thing remains paramount: taking care of yourself.
Remember when our nation’s favorite slogan was “14 days to flatten the curve”? Although it feels like just yesterday, the reality is that thought went out the window a year and a half ago. Forget 14 days. It has been no less than 18 long months where not a single moment has gone by without COVID-19 invading daily considerations.
And now here we are, starting another pandemic-impacted school year. Families are still reeling from the mental drain of last year and shocked that the already-short summer is coming to a rapid end. The positive news is we are a people of resilience. Months of change have settled into a new sense of normal. Schooling has adapted, workplaces have shifted, and shopping and dining now accommodate patrons in a new way. But it is unrealistic to ignore the long-term impact this strain and stress has caused for overall health. Regardless of what side of the road you sit on, this has been an unexpected and lengthy bump in society’s historical track record of smooth sailing. So how can we combat the slump? What can we do to encourage positive reframing and ensure healthier bodies, minds and spirits?
Whether you prefer organized classes, indoor gym settings or simply taking advantage of living in the Sunshine State, Lakewood Ranch offers every option. For the “I won’t exercise unless someone tells me what to do” crowd, try Cyclebar, Purebarre, Barre3, Orangetheory, Crossfit Lena or Burn Bootcamp. If you’re a weightlifting and treadmill/elliptical junky, LA Fitness or Crunch might be right for you. Prefer to embrace the outdoors and breathe in the sunshine? Explore Braden River Nature Park, Celery Fields or Greenbrook Adventure Park. It doesn’t matter what you do, just grab your shoes and get moving!
Physical movement is great for your (physical) body, but often necessity dictates that one channel a little deeper into the psyche. This is where slower, more intentional movements can prove beneficial. Studios including The Yogabarre, ThaVma and Yogashack can provide a serene and safe space to open your mind, body and spirit to the benefits of movement through yoga.
Food is also the way to many hearts, but it is also the way to happiness. Sometimes that looks like clean eating with acai bowls, fresh juices or organic power salads at such places as 3Natives, Crop or So Fresh. And other times that means delicious, finger-lickin’ splurges — try Farmhouse, Shipley and Five-O Donut Co. the next time you crave sugary, hole-y deliciousness or Big Olaf’s and Jeni’s for mouth-watering ice cream. (Don’t forget the waffle cone!)
Being healthy includes more than just your spirit and physical self. It goes beyond eating yummy or nutritious food and moving your body (though these things definitely help). The third pillar in overall health is, well, mental. Taking care of thoughts and emotions is equally paramount and arguably the most important component in your complete well-being. Everyone has gone through some incredibly unprecedented time, and the need to normalize the experience is real. Don’t be afraid to lean into available options for counseling, therapy or even just talking with a close friend. Kahwa and Atria both offer laid-back and comfortable environments to grab coffee or tea and unwind.
If you prefer to disclose concerns or struggles with a professional in an unbiased setting, there are a plethora of licensed counselors and therapists in the greater LWR area. Still unsure about talking through your thoughts? If you have insurance, the availability of virtual therapy in the pandemic-era is abundant. You can stay in the privacy of your own home, porch or even car and access a professional to chat with.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and keep chugging along. Brighter days are ahead!
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