Coping With Our New “Normal”

by: Dianna Yphantides

“Should we get the vaccine or not get the vaccine? Should we wear a mask or is it okay not to wear a mask? Should I plan this trip? Should I see this friend? Should we social distance? Should we push off our birthday parties, weddings, dinner plans, and our lives?” 

Hi, my name is Dianna Yphantides. I am a licensed clinical therapist, and these are only a few of the many questions, fears and complications that I have been hearing from many of my clients over the past year and a half due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  COVID-19 is a virus which, like it or not, has changed the way every single person on this planet has lived the past year and a half.  This virus has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people, caused strains on relationships due to different belief systems, and caused extreme deficits on the mental health and wellness of people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, and age.

There is not a single person who hasn’t been affected by the roars and decimation of this virus today.  There are countless memes, jokes and jabs at COVID-19 to help keep our world laughing instead of crying.  What I have witnessed in my line of work comes down to 2 things: the fear of the unknown and the difficulty people have been dealing with of not having control of what is happening in our lives.  People have lost the capability to socialize, hug, connect and simply be with people that they love due to fear of this virus.  People have lost the right to feel safe going to places like the grocery store, a restaurant, and the gym, which previously we had taken for granted. 

The isolation of quarantine alone for people has had insurmountable mental health consequences on people.  As human-beings, we are social creatures who crave affection, attention and unity, and the divide this virus has implicated on us all is not something that can be cured overnight.  I have patients who are fully vaccinated who come for in-person sessions with five masks on and I have patients who still have yet to leave their homes since March 2020.  This is not the quality of life that we are used to living.  Children are missing out on extremely imperative socialization and quality learning years and elders are missing opportunities to see their grandchildren grow up, and there is no timeline to tell us when we are going to feel “normal” again– or what normal will even look like after this.

As a therapist, my takeaway from this past year and a half is that it is okay not to be okay.  It is alright to feel lost, fearful, angry, confused and sad sometimes.  This virus is not something that any one of us could have predicted.  Give yourself the privilege and the right to feel your feelings–scream, yell, throw something– do whatever it takes to express yourself, and most important of all, be kind to yourself.  Take a long bath, read a good book, watch a comedy on Netflix, take a walk, meditate.  Do things for yourself which help fill up your cup since the overwhelming nature of this pandemic has most definitely left it depleted.  Remember that it is okay to feel overwhelmed right now.  Do things for yourself; big or small which help you to remember that you are human, you are fallible, and it is acceptable to not be okay in such an uncertain time.

Vacation Tips: Maintaining Healthy Habits Away From Home

by: Terry Ternyila

I recently traveled to Key West for a 10 day trip to visit friends. It may have only taken 49 years, but I have finally found the balance for a perfect vacation that doesn’t completely derail my healthy lifestyle. I had so much energy through the whole vacation this spring, I didn’t feel bloated, and I didn’t pack on the pounds like I normally would.

Usually a trip like that would have knocked me off my healthy lifestyle for the whole trip, but over the years I have learned the tricks so that I can still enjoy my vacation and all it has to offer without feeling crappy when I get home. I just wanted to share some of our vacation tips we have learned along the way.

Book a Stay With a Kitchen

First, we always try to rent houses or condos for our vacation. There are so many options online now to find different accommodations other than the traditional hotel, with apps like AirBnB or websites like VRBO. This gives us the kitchen option so we can have healthier snacks on hand and we do not have to eat all our meals out.

I know cooking on vacation is not what everyone wants to do, but it doesn’t have to be big elaborate meals. We keep the meals we cook at home simple and easy. We also have the options of left overs with the full fridge. We will plan 1 meal out for the day and try to keep the rest of the food as close to our normal diet as possible. This will keep the calories down and keep your body on its routine.

If renting a house or condo isn’t in your budget, we have made this work with the hotel mini fridge options. There are so many health options to have on hand, just stop at the food store and stock up on those choices. Getting some local fresh fruit and healthy snacks to have on-hand will save you money too. I find on vacation we usually eat 2 meals, then small bites here or there, like a protein bar or snack packs of nuts in my bag.

Stay Active

Second, we keep active. I am not saying you have to work out and exercise on your vacation but working activity into your daily routine is a benefit. We try to walk places when we can, even after dinner to explore or go see a park or beach locally on a trip. Renting bikes or kayaks for a day to explore the area more is an awesome way to get in your activity and enjoy your vacation. 

I always wear my Fitbit to see how active I am, and you would be surprised just walking around exploring and shopping how many steps you are getting in. We are always so rushed in our lives, in a hurry to get somewhere, and vacation is no exception. Take the time to walk down to the pool instead of driving, spend the time talking and walking; it’s the greatest connection we can do on vacation.

Hydration Is Key

Third is to keep hydrated throughout. This is one of my biggest struggles when I am traveling for sure, but it is so important while you travel to keep drinking water. We usually are indulging in some of the adult beverages during vacations which will dehydrate us even more. I try to keep a water bottle by my night stand. Having a bottle ready when I get up in the morning and again before bed is a good habit, especially on vacation.

Keeping hydrated also helps with flushing out all the added salt that you have been eating in your meals out. Usually my fingers would get so swollen from all the sodium you find in prepared meals. Drinking enough water to get that out of our body helps so much.

Throughout the day check in with yourself and make sure you have gotten in your water.

In the past I would use the vacation as an opportunity to just splurge on food and drinks. I would throw all my healthy habits out the window for the whole trip. Half way through the trip I would feel more sluggish and bloated. Once I got home, I would feel awful about how much weight I put on and how I felt. It would take me a few weeks to get back on my routine. Now I realize that I can still have that ice cream or yummy meal as long as I make better choices the rest of the day. I didn’t come home feeling deprived of my vacation, and I actually felt better and had more energy to enjoy the trip.

Get Back to Your Routine

Once you return from vacation do a little 3 day cleanse…. I am doing no sugars, no oils, no dairy, and no carbs for 3 days to reset my body and get myself off the bad habits I may have picked up on vacation.   You don’t have to go so extreme but try clean eating for a few days to get back to your normal eating patterns.

What are some of your vacation tips?