I have committed to walking, jogging or hiking outdoors each day for at least 1 hour. It feels so good for my body to get the exercise and for my spirit to be outdoors in the sunshine or even rain. I am so aware that life goes on and that there is beauty even in times of darkness. Many cities have issued shelter in place orders to avoid spreading the coronavirus. That means most places are closed including the gym. Even if your city has not issued any orders, it is a good idea to stay at home and away from others as much as you can. A good number of employers are following this lead and allowing employees to work remotely at home.
No matter where you are working or even if you are laid off from work, life has shifted and most normal routines no longer exist. Everything is different now. The economy, robust just a short while ago, has taken a major downturn. As a result of what is happening and the need to be physically distant, we no longer have the social connections with others that we once had and probably took for granted. All of this has created an enormous amount of stress and anxiety.
Have you ever paused to notice how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. You may also experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, or frequent urination. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turn lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.
Exercising and being outdoors is an effective way to break this cycle and help to boost our mental and physical well-being especially when facing extreme challenges. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind. Your mind needs to be sharp to continue working, to look for a job, to figure how to best keep your business alive and just to live and take care of yourself and your family.
As a reminder of what has not changed nor is closed is the outdoors, fresh air and nature. Just yesterday, I walked on Lover’s Lane at the Presidio in San Francisco. Other people were walking and we all practiced respectful physical distancing. Getting outdoors is good for immunity especially in the sunshine, which is healing and feels so good.
As I was on the trail, I overheard a conversation between two women who were walking together six feet apart. They both worked at the same company and were talking about a project and how much they enjoyed this way of walking together rather than walking alone. Even though you should stay physically distant from most people it does not mean you have to be socially distant. And the shelter-in-place orders state that you can go outside to walk or jog.
After I get back home from exercising in the outdoors I feel so much better with more energy and a positive spirit. This makes me so much more productive and creative as I sit down at my desk to resume my work.