The spinal fusion surgery recovery process paired with quarantine has been one my biggest challenges yet. There are a few things I have been focusing on to maximize my days and optimize my health under these circumstances:
Moving my body each day is critical in progressing through recovery and gaining strength back; it is also the most important thing I can do for my mental health right now. I feel my best during and after a good workout. My mind is clear and my mood is boosted. I am learning to accept that my ‘workouts’ definitely look different than usual, but that is okay. Slowing down is very difficult for me, but focusing on injury prevention is one of my top priorities. Hopefully I’ll be back to running, higher intensity workouts, and speed training soon, but I’m going to embrace what my body wants and needs right now. Walking, jogging, and yoga have definitely brought a new pace to my life. Feeling the difference in my body everyday motivates me to keep getting stronger.
I have been consciously trying to avoid screentime, and have been monitoring it through the iPhone feature. I don’t find watching tv/movies very enjoyable, and don’t feel fufilled when scrolling through social media. Oftentimes, too much screentime makes me feel worse than before because of my lack of productivity. Instead, I’d rather spend the time outside getting some fresh air and exercise.
Spending time with nature and in fresh air has been revitalizing. Going barefoot in the backyard while working out keeps me feeling grounded to the Earth and connected with nature. I love hearing the birds chirp and the wind blow while doing my workout, whatever that may be: squats/lunges, kicking a ball around, walking, or just stretching. Combining exercise with time outside is a crucial part of my daily schedule.
Although it may be virtual, connecting with friends helps to maintain a sense of normalcy. I have made it a priority to stay connected with my close friends, mainly through FaceTime. It is so nice to talk to people outside of your household when we are under these crazy circumstances. Sharing a conversation and a few laughs with your loved ones are always needed, whether it is in person or virtual. For me, scheduling FaceTime calls with friends has been the easiest way to stay connected because it makes sure the time is convenient for both parties and it prioritizes the conversation. From the first day of quarantine until now, I’ve talked to my best friend every single day via FaceTime.
Getting an adequate amount of sleep each night is vital to feeling well rested but also prepared for the next day. In the beginning of this quarantine, I was hardly sleeping. I’d go to bed around 1 a.m. and wake up at 7 a.m. My sleep schedule was inconsistent, which didn’t leave me feeling ready for the day ahead. Now, I go to bed at 10 p.m. and wake up at 6:30 a.m. every morning to function optimally.
Stretching has been the best way for me to start the day off feeling fresh and recovered from a hard workout. My muscles relax, I improve my posture, and work on my flexibility. This is a huge component in preparing for the next day of workouts and movement to avoid strain and injury.
Perhaps the most surprising thing on this list for me is journaling. I’ve never been able to sit still and meditate, but have found that starting and ending my day by journaling has helped me wake-up and fall asleep very easily and calmly.
By focusing on the above, my physical and mental wellbeing have improved drastically throughout this quarantine.