CBA Record May-June 2021

Staying Healthy During the Pandemic By Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Jr.

T he pandemic has lasted for over a year now. Even with the availability of vaccines, returning to the old normal doesn’t appear to be on the horizon. The pandemic has caused considerable anxiety and uncertainty, with widespread reports of mental health issues and feelings of isolation. It is more important than ever to focus on both mental and physical health during these times. Structure is essential to staying mentally healthy. Our minds are creatures of habit and love a plan. Experts suggest setting a schedule for yourself and starting your day as if it was any other day rather than under the cloud of the pandemic. They also advise exercising at least 30 minutes daily. Exercise provides the best boost to cope with life’s daily stressors by releasing feel-good endorphins and distracting you from daily worries. Other popular recommendat ions include (1) setting aside specific time for leisure activities such as reading, cooking, watching television or movies, listening to music, or focusing on a hobby; (2) paying attention to how long tasks take you and adjusting your daily goals to match your current rhythm; (3) designating your per- sonal work space where you have a desk, computer, and other essentials; and (4) planning ways to maintain connections. Regarding maintaining connections, our reduced ability to converse in person has caused many people to struggle with a sense of loneliness, isolation, and disengagement. This makes finding ways to communicate via technology even more critical. Set up phone calls, video conferences, or hang-out sessions with friends or colleagues on your

phone or computer. For those who live with others, spending so much time inside has induced cabin fever. That’s the feeling of being stuck indoors with the same people for a prolonged time. To ensure a stress- and conflict-free envi- ronment, engage in activities on your own besides work. This could be done in several ways. Read a book in a quiet corner of your home. Watch a movie by yourself. Take a walk or run alone. Volunteer to go to the grocery store or pharmacy to get supplies. Meditate by yourself for 10-15 minutes. To overcome monotony, health experts advise moving around your living space. For example, spend time on a patio, balcony, or near a sunlit window, then sit at the kitchen table, and follow that with a stint at your workspace. A change in scenery has a posi- tive effect on your body and mind. Until the Center for Disease Control

informs us otherwise, continue to wear a face mask when with people not in your household, maintain social distance, and wash your hands. Inevitably, the pandemic will subside, as will the disruptions, hardships, and incon- veniences to our lives that have come with it. In the meantime, be careful during this final stretch and mindful of your mental and physical health.

Jud g e E . Ke nn e t h Wright Jr. presides over the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Munici- pal District 1 and is a long-time member of the CBA Record Editorial Board.

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