While there’s no replacing the hands-on healing of experts, a productive wellness regimen is achievable at home. “Learn how to take yourself out of the tornado,” says Lance Isakov, a licensed acupuncturist and owner of Berwyn’s Village Wellness, an alternative health center. “If we’re overwhelmed, we can’t function at optimum levels. High stress over a prolonged period of time takes a big, bad toll on our bodies.”
The COVID-19 crisis has placed renewed emphasis on the importance of a strong immune system—something pharmaceuticals can’t provide. “Whole-body health is the basis of most Eastern medical systems,” Isakov says. “Naysayers who previously disparaged holistic health are seeing value in it.”
COVID-19 has also unleashed a pandemic of anxiety and depression. “Even those of us who don’t usually experience anxiety are now,” says Francine Broder, a clinical psychologist with the Beck Institute in Bala Cynwyd.
Mental health professionals like Broder and Ardmore psychologist Jamie Zuckerman are doing therapy sessions over HIPAA-approved video platforms. Both stress that continuity of care is vital for people with mental health disorders.
“We are going through huge societal change, and it’s the worst time to withdraw from therapy,” says Zuckerman. “If our offices have to be shut for a long period of time, we could be looking at a mental health crisis. Hospitals are already overwhelmed, and we don’t want patients going to emergency rooms.”
Experts note that self-care can be helpful in a number of ways. “Staying in your pajamas all day is depression-making behavior, and uncertainty fuels anxiety,” says Broder. “Most people function best when they go right to problem solving. Now, it’s more important than ever to give yourself a schedule and stick to it.”
To make acupressure part of your wellness schedule, start with this easy hand technique recommended by Jenn Hartmann and Amie Hamel, co-owners of Strafford Chiropractic & Healing Center in Wayne. Find the sweet spot on the web of your hand between the thumb and forefinger, then take your opposite thumb and forefinger and rub that spot with good pressure for 10 seconds. Repeat that three to five times. “It draws heat out of the head and upper body and helps with digestion, headaches and inflammation,” says Hartmann.
For a stress reliever, find the acupressure point on your upper chest. It’s above the heart, under the clavicle, and feels tender to the touch. Gently massage that point, moving in a clockwise direction. “It’s a lymphatic drainage point and an excellent stress reliever,” Hartmann says.
As a doctor of chiropractic, Hartmann suggests using a foam roller to relieve back pain. Lay with the roller perpendicular to the spine. Avoid the nape of the neck and don’t roll on the low back or you’ll risk injuring floating ribs. Roll only on the upper and middle back, moving slowly up and down the spine for a gentle back massage. “You can do it daily,” says Hartmann. “Don’t worry if you hear pops. It’s natural.”
Strafford Chiropractic sells kits of essential oils and advises people on how to use them. Not all oils can be placed directly on skin, and some are only used on certain parts of the body.
To relieve anxiety and stress, Hamel recommends a calming oil with lavender, ylang ylang, tangerine and patchouli. “Place a drop or two on each wrist, behind your ears or on the nape of neck,” says Hamel. “It is great for adults and kids.”
For immune support, Hamel suggests Thieves, a blend of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and rosemary created by Young Living Essential Oils. Oreganol is an ingestible oil. “It’s a good treatment for a mild sore throat and usually helps to kill bacteria,” Hamel says.
Meditation may not be a germ fighter, but it’s an effective wellness tool. When quiet and calm are in short supply, meditation can provide clarity and peace. “It brings our awareness to the present moment, and gives us a different relationship with our thoughts and feelings,” says Isakov.
Start by making a meditation space in your home. A dedicated room is great, though any corner will suffice. An aromatherapy diffuser is helpful, but even a few drops of essential oil on a tissue will release a healing scent into the air. Isakov recommends sage, lavender or eucalyptus.
Sit on pillows and place a small table or piece of cloth in front of you. Fill it with objects that carry special meaning—stones, crystals, shells, candles, pictures of people you love. “That becomes your altar,” Isakov says. “It’s a little sanctuary and your sacred space.”
Find your soundtrack on Spotify, Pandora or another streaming service—
you even can ask Alexa to play meditation music. “Or use nature sounds like waterfalls, rain forest or oceans,” says Isakov. “Right now, bringing nature indoors is going to be great.”
Next, get into a comfortable position—standing, sitting or laying—and start breathing deeply. But don’t doze off. Meditation is not sleep.
If finding stillness sounds impossible, start by meditating for one minute—then two, then three. Slowly, your body will relax, and your mind will follow.
“Find your stillness,” says Isakov. “Look for it. Relax. There’s nowhere to go and nothing to do.”