Mental Health During Isolation

The emergence of the new coronavirus has changed our lives immensely. Differences in our daily routine, the constant buzz of negative media reports, fears about losing our jobs and the economy in general can play havoc with our peace of mind. And to make matters worse, we can’t even meet up with friends for a chat and a comforting hug.

Fortunately, social distancing or isolation does not reach as far as our digital devices and we can catch up with friends and colleagues on our phones, tablets and laptops, if only to share a smiling emoji. Being alone can have a few benefits when we know it won’t last forever. We could, for example, learn a new language, read a book or two in the time we’d normally spend commuting, or take up a new hobby. And if we feel fear amid these activities—or during working hours if we’re working from home­—a few deep breaths or short meditation will help alleviate anxiety.

Practicing meditation at home is a great way to calm and relax the mind.

If you are a parent of little ones, you will naturally have concerns about their wellbeing, and find it challenging if you are also working from home. If elderly parents, or loved ones with compromised immune systems live with you, you may be wondering how best to protect them from the virus when you yourself have been out of the house on a food run, for example.

Perhaps it brings some solace to remember that everyone is in the same place; that all over the world, in universities and private labs, the best scientific minds of our time are working on developing vaccines that will help restore some normalcy to our lives.

Until then, we must try to relax, to seek out reliable online resources that can help us, and share our fears and questions in online groups and forums for those with similar concerns.

Reaching out to friends and family through video calls can help provide comfort during this time.

For children, teens and adults, it is important to maintain as normal a routine as possible, getting up at the same time as usual, eating regular meals, exercising (think stretches, yoga, dancing and getting in your 10,000 steps by walking around the house). Make sure you are getting to bed reasonably early and don’t make it your second job to watch the news on TV. Instead, get caught up once a day then find something positive to focus on. (If you are seriously troubled by what you are hearing, ask a partner or friend to fill you in on anything that is important for you to know.)

Talk openly to those in your care, making sure your language is age-appropriate. Find out their concerns and open them up for discussion. There is truth to the adage A trouble shared is a trouble halved. Above all, however frightening the spread of this virus may seem, remember to breathe and stay calm.

4 Healthy Getaways for Fall

Sometimes, you need to recharge. It can be hard to do in a busy life – work, family, kids, friends, hobbies, chores, errands…. So why not get away for a bit? Even a few days is enough time to rest, breathe, and get back at it. We’ve gathered a few therapeutic retreat options that might be just what you need.

lake louise wellness retreat

Image courtesy of Flickr user Stephen Liu

Yoga in Banff

yoga retreat alberta british columbia

Image courtesy of Flickr user Matthew Ragan

If you want to get away for some self-reflection but wilderness isn’t really your thing, this yoga retreat at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is for you. The retreat includes two nights’ luxury accommodation at the hotel, gourmet meals, and a selection of yoga & meditation classes as well as a few nature walks around beautiful Lake Louise. Worried about a retreat being too rigid? The schedule is entirely optional – attendees are free to join activities as they wish (meaning you can sneak away for a mid-afternoon savasana). Namaste.

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How to Boost Brainpower and Increase Productivity

Don’t we all wish we could have 10 more hours in a day? That’s impossible, of course, but by boosting your brainpower, you can increase your productivity, which will create the illusion of more time. While there exist quick fixes for sharpening your brain (like eating antioxidant-filled blueberries or going for a run to score some endorphins), these three tips work best as habits to develop and maintain over time.

Get the sleep you need

Reducing caffeine will improve your sleep and mental capability

Cutting caffeine can greatly improve your quality of sleep.

Getting your minimum six hours isn’t even the most important aspect of sleep – what’s really important is getting high quality sleep. Try a sleep-tracking app like Sleepbot or a Fitbit to track your REM cycles. You can also use such apps to set an adjustable alarm that will wake you when your sleep is lightest to increase the quality of your sleep.

You can also unplug before bed to improve your sleep quality. The blue light found on tablets, smartphones, and eReaders actually signals your body to wake up, right before going to bed. Try reading a paper book before bed instead.

Lastly, cutting caffeine (at least in the afternoons, if you can’t live without your morning cuppa) will better the quality of your sleep, among other benefits. Still need a three o’clock pick-me-up? Try an iced herbal tea to give you a boost without the buzz.

Stimulate your brain

Socialization is actually good for your mental health

Socializing is actually good for you – it stimulates your brain. Party on!

Abandon your GPS and calculator in favour of using a map or doing calculations in your head. You can also sign up for a daily-word email to increase your vocabulary. Exercising your brain can also be accomplished by playing Scrabble (or Words with Friends!) instead of just talking or texting. Interestingly, socialization is also hugely beneficial to your brain. By inviting friends over, you  reduce your chances of dementia. What better excuse is there to open a bottle of wine?

Another way to stimulate your brain is to do something new. This can be as simple as walking somewhere instead of driving, as intense as trying a new sport. Learning a new language or instrument also positively impacts the brain.

Treat your body right

Meditation benefits mental ability

Thirty minutes of yoga or meditation will increase your daily productivity.

First, kick the habit. Cigarettes have been linked to memory deficits, so the sooner you quit, the better it is for your body and brain.

Exercise regularly, even if it’s just a longer walk to your car. Try parking further from work, or getting off the bus earlier than usual to increase your walking distance. Practicing yoga or meditating also works – just 30 minutes a day contributes greatly to mental capacity.

Eating right also has a big impact. That means loading up on superfoods like blueberries, almonds, dark chocolate, and greens to boost your brain, but also making a habit of staying hydrated and eating clean and balanced meals.