by Jo Ann Graser
We all find ourselves existing in a world turned upside down. Emphasis on “world.” We are not alone by a long stretch. Every person on this planet has been or will be affected by Covid-19. Big picture, the loss of life and serious illness everywhere is overwhelming. However, right here in our homes we are waging a battle to keep entropy at bay. Entropy is defined as: "lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder and chaos.”
“Shelter in place” was terminology that was not part of my lexicon and while the term “shelter” is
somewhat comforting, we find ourselves forced into new routines and an abundance of uncertainty. For me, that first week of shelter in place was terrifying and filled with “what ifs.” What if my business fails? What if my industry ceases to be viable? What if my family/staff/clients/friends get sick? I found myself scrambling and working on sheer adrenaline to pivot my business and take care of my clients and staff.
Self-care was not high on my list of priorities, but I did make time each day to move, sweat and work off some of the nervous tension. These questions formed a loop in my head each morning: How do we cope? How do we move forward while staying in one place? How do we break the stressful emotional cycle of anger, fear, loneliness, and separation? I made it my mission to keep those in my circle of influence moving and motivated.
Let us talk physiology for a moment. When we are stressed, our cortisol levels rise. Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands. When released into the bloodstream, cortisol can act on many different parts of the body and can help your body respond to stress or danger. This heightened stress response is important for managing short-term situations. When cortisol is present over the long term it can lead to symptoms such as headache, dry mouth, gastrointestinal problems, heart palpitations, unusual sweating, loss of libido, overeating/undereating, and anxiety symptoms. Over time, heightened cortisol levels can lead to our health being compromised through immune system suppression, cardiac problems, depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, etc.
One of the best ways to cope with elevated stress is to GET MOVING. As the body warms, the heart rate increases and breathing becomes deeper. Endorphin levels rise. Endorphins are a group of hormones produced in the pituitary gland and their secretion leads to decreased pain, feelings of euphoria, modulation of appetite, release of sex hormones, and enhancement of the immune response.
With high endorphin levels, we feel less pain and suffer fewer negative effects of stress. Our bodies
produce endorphins in response to prolonged, continuous exercise. Our health clubs and studios are shuttered, some communities are closing hiking trails. How do we continue our workout routines within this new reality? I find it ironic that the technology that until recently was blamed for increasing levels of inactivity is now the best place to find all kinds of workout options, classes and motivation! It is indeed a new virtual reality.
When Tensile Strength Studio and Barrington Yoga Loft was deemed non-essential and ordered to close, we immediately began creating a “Virtual Studio.” We have managed to put almost all our
programming into this virtual studio. You will find Pilates, Yoga, Barre and Fitness with all your favorite instructors. Comments from participants are overwhelmingly positive and some even have requested that we continue to offer virtual options after we re-open! This is an opportunity to “try” a new workout modality literally from the comfort of your own home.
This is our reality for the time being. My hope for you is that you embrace the new normal and figure out ways to re-capture all those activities you “used to do” pre lockdown. Your immune system will thank you and imagine how good it will feel to emerge from quarantine stronger, healthier and happier than when you went in.