YMCA column

As we reopen businesses and communities here in Florida, it is important to  bring with us the safe practices we should be accustomed to using and also take a moment to cherish the interactions with others that we had been somewhat deprived of over the past few months.

While many of us are returning to our routines, it is very important to remember to make physical and mental health a pillar in our daily lives. After our last article, I received anonymous feedback from a female community member who would become isolated during the pandemic, as her family lived out of state. She had lost the common area to meet friends when the Y and other areas she frequented were forced to close, but didn’t allow the stay-at-home order to drag her down.

As we construct our new normal, with the potential for another closure as cases spike, we way want to take a page from this individual’s book.

Physical health:

“ ... I have lost 50 pounds, gained health and happiness that I questioned was achievable a year ago.”

As we entered the pandemic, this reader had made a decision to continue the work she had done for herself over the past year, even if she had to do it alone. But she shares that this was not always easy, and required a lot of planning to sustain.

She started by recognizing that there were four things imperative to her well-being: exercise, healthy foods, sleep and purpose.

Exercise can be difficult when there isn’t encouragement or accountability outside of your own. She recognized that regular exercise helped her to become more consistent in other aspects of her life.

“Consistency seems to keep me balanced,” but she recognized that this consistency “didn’t just happen.”

She also focused on eating healthy meals and snacks as she stocked up for the potential lockdown.

“I knew that if I brought any junk food into the house, and if my stress rose, I would inevitably eat it.” Knowing this about herself was a key to being able to plan for a healthy lifestyle during this challenging time.

Mental health:

To help hold herself accountable, she used online workouts as they came out, and set realistic goals for herself. Knowing she couldn’t maintain the weight loss she was seeing with the help of a personal trainer, she adjusted her goals to maintaining the more healthy weight she was currently at.

This is a huge benefit to your mental health. When situations change, it is very easy to compare past progress to what you have the ability to do now. While you do want to push yourself, it is very important to acknowledge small successes and build self-confidence as you build toward your ultimate goals.

While everyone is different in the way they tackle new challenges, this individual provides some great insight as to what helped her overcome this issues we are all facing. Stay safe!

Have an idea to help the mental health of our community? Feel free to send feedback to gadkins@suncoastymca.org.

Garrett Adkins is Citrus YMCA aquatics director/YMCA Mental Health Task Force chairman.