Exercises and Tips to Help Reduce Stress on the Body During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Exercises and Tips to Help Reduce Stress on the Body During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Telephone triage nurses work all hours of the day and night, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic means that many people are staying at home and are more stationary throughout the day. This can have a negative effect on your physical and mental health that in return can negatively affect your work. To stay motivated and keep energy levels up, there are many exercises, stretches, and tips you can complete to reduce stress on the body throughout the day. Research conducted by Mayo Clinic shows that people who sit for extended periods of time are at greater risk for obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, and increased body fat around the waist.

 

Sunlight

Research shows that 5 – 15 minutes of sunlight a day is enough to enjoy the benefits of the sun. You can receive sunlight by stepping outside for a few minutes or going for a walk or run. Natural sunlight triggers an increased production of Vitamin D within the body. Vitamin D is known to protect against inflammation, lower blood pressure, help muscles, and improve brain function.

 

Neck & Shoulders Exercises

Neck Stretch: This simple stretch helps loosen up the large upper back and neck muscle called the trapezius. It can help ease tension, reduce stiffness, and prevent headaches.

  • Sit up straight in your chair.
  • Without lifting your shoulder to meet it, try to touch your ear to your shoulder.
  • Use your hand to push lightly until you feel the stretch in your neck.
  • Hold for 10-15 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Shoulder Roll: Although not a stretch, this technique is another stress reliever. People often hold tension in their shoulders without realizing it.

  • Sit up straight in your chair.
  • Roll your shoulders forward 10 times. Take your time.
  • Roll your shoulders backward 10 times as well.

Arms

Overhead Triceps Stretch: Your triceps is the muscle on the back of your upper arm that helps extend your arm.

  • Sit up or stand up straight.
  • Reach your arm behind your head as if to touch the opposite shoulder, but let your hand relax where it falls, usually mid-back.
  • Place your other hand just beneath the elbow.
  • Gently pull your arm toward your ear so that you can feel a stretch. Do not try to pull it past your ear or force it farther than is comfortable.
  • Hold 20-30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Legs

Leg Lifts: You don’t make extensive use of your legs when seated. It’s easy to end up with aching or sleeping muscles when the time comes to stand again. Leg lifts exercise the quadriceps, a group of muscles on the front of your thigh.

  • Sit up straight in your chair.
  •  Slowly lift one leg until it is straight out in front of you.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Lower your leg until your foot almost touches the floor.
  • Repeat 15 times, then do the same with the other leg.

Calf Raises: This exercise requires standing up to be most beneficial, since it uses your own body weight as resistance. However, it can still be done seated as well! It is an exercise that works the calf muscles on the back of the lower leg.

  • Stand or sit up straight.
  • Slowly lift up onto the balls of your feet, as if walking tip-toe.
  • Slowly lower your heels until they almost touch the ground.
  • Repeat 30 times.

Breathing        

While triage nurses are trained in excellent listening skills, sometimes triaging over the phone can be challenging, especially with patients who might be emotional. It’s often important to stop in between calls to put yourself at ease. Simple breathing exercises can help slow a racing heart rate, relieve tension, and increase brain functionality.

  • Sit up straight in your chair.
  • Inhale for 5 seconds, making sure to breathe slowly enough to enable the full 5 seconds but quickly enough to fully expand the chest. Try to use the diaphragm to inhale.
  • Hold the breath for 3 seconds.
  • Exhale for 7 seconds. Again, do so slowly enough to use all 7 but quickly enough to empty the lungs.
  • Repeat 10 times, or as necessary.

Spending just a few minutes every day doing these exercises and tips can help improve your mental and physical health and keep you motivated during extended periods of time at home. Regular physical activity benefits both the mind and the body and can also reduce high blood pressure, manage weight, and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. These are all conditions that can increase vulnerability to COVID-19.

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