Published on June 23, 2021
Why Getting Moving and Rekindling Connections Is So Important
Andrew and I have been told that we have "ants in our pants," that we "can't sit still," and that we are a couples’ version of "Where's Waldo?" Perhaps that was true before the COVID pandemic clipped our wings, along with everyone’s globally.
We love to travel but other than car trips, the running around came to a screeching halt at the beginning of last year. But despite the travel ban, we committed ourselves to one thing that we know is good for our health — mentally, emotionally, and physically — movement! Some might call it exercise, but that always comes with the somewhat negative connotation of work. For us, it's not about "working out," but about giving our bodies a chance to breathe, to stretch, to smell the air and clear our heads. Over our many years as a cancer survivor and a care partner, we have continually recommitted ourselves to the idea that no matter the circumstance — in sickness and in health — we'd each do what we could to move.
The pandemic forced so many of us to hunker down at home for safety reasons. Even going to the market became a potential health hazard, going to a gym was out of the question, and even a walk in the park was a questionable alternative at the height of viral surges. Yet, as we spoke to many health professionals, the one thing they all agreed on was the need to find ways to keep our bodies and minds from stagnating. Granted, there are many people who have physical impediments to a variety of activities, but in general there are some very simple, easy things we found that could at least get the blood flowing and the mind uncluttered from fearful thoughts. And now, as restrictions are lifting — even as those of us who are immunocompromised still need to be vigilant — there are many ways to "get going."
Simple Tips to Get Moving
Check out YouTube. We were so surprised and delighted to find a treasure trove of programs posted on YouTube that could be used to "get moving" at all levels of fitness (or not-so-fitness). One favorite of ours became The Body Project, run by a wonderful couple that believes that ANY movement is positive. I interviewed Daniel Bartlett (The Body Project co-founder) during the height of the pandemic and he explained that starting where you are physically and doing whatever you can is better than doing nothing at all. Using upbeat music and real people of all "shapes and sizes," there's the opportunity to simply walk in place, stretch while sitting down, or cut loose and really work up a sweat — all at home. There are many other great programs on YouTube to learn yoga, basic weightlifting (we used soup cans and even our dog!), and basic stretching.
Get outside. All the experts have weighed in and clearly agree that fresh air and reconnecting with nature — or even with your neighborhood park — is good for you. There's now evidence that you are at extremely low risk of catching COVID-19 by simply being outdoors. If you are still concerned, keep that mask on. It really is amazing what a walk on the beach, a stroll through the forest, or even a walk around the block can do for your outlook on life. For us, we love to get outside and bike. Now that we live in a place with a lot of hills, we bought e-bikes. That way you can pedal hard or get the motor to help a little or a lot.
Restart Your Connections
With “lockdowns” at home in the rearview mirror in most cases, the sanctioned opportunity to physically connect in person, face-to-face, is becoming possible. It may be slow going as the landscape now includes those who are vaccinated, not vaccinated, and those who are vaccinated without having the benefit of antibody coverage. That’s okay. Taking it slow and within your comfort zone is just fine, but reconnecting with the world at large is important.
Reconnect in "real time.” While Zoom and other digital interactions kept most of us from feeling totally isolated, it's admittedly not the same as in-person contact. As human beings, we generally thrive on connecting with others and when we are isolated, depression and anxiety can easily set in. Consider meeting close family or friends in a park or a backyard for coffee or a meal. If distancing and masks make you feel more secure, that's okay too, but make that real-time connection. With aging parents who were ailing through part of the pandemic, I can say that the most painful experience for me was not being able to be with them, much less touch them and hug them, at their time of greatest need. The exhilaration I felt a few weeks ago of just being able to sit across a table with them in a relative's backyard was joyous.
Say YES wherever you can. Living through the COVID pandemic and all of the restrictions on our daily life that it imposed made me appreciate the opportunity to say "YES" whenever possible. So, maybe driving to visit someone an hour away doesn't sound great at first, but think about how glad you will feel to reconnect after such a stressful time. Maybe it's easier to not pack a picnic and go to the park, but think about how nice it will feel to sit in the sun, read a book, listen to birds, or even hear kids playing on a playground. So much of these simple pleasures weren't possible over the last year or so — and now they are.
It’s time to get moving, one step at a time.
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