The coronavirus disease has swept through the nation and has forced the majority, if not all, to adapt to each of our own new “normal.” From businesses to education to families, and most importantly, our health, COVID-19 has significantly affected the way we approach our day-to-day lives. Furthermore, the CDC (Centers of Disease and Control and Prevention) has shown that the coronavirus disease affects both older and younger adults, albeit varying symptoms, hospitalization, ICU admission and case-fatality rates.1 Currently, the United States ranks first in the world as having the greatest number of cases and deaths: over four million cases and just under a hundred and fifty thousand deaths due to coronavirus disease. To give readers a relative perspective on the significance of the statistics, Brazil ranks second in the world (yet not even close to the numbers of the United States) having over two million cases and about eighty-seven thousand deaths,2 and India ranks third in the world with over a million cases and over thirty-two thousand deaths. I wanted to present the statistics to illustrate not only the gravity of how the United States compares to the rest of the world but also, from a health and wellness perspective, what we can do to help and protect ourselves.
As a student in the physical therapy profession, I took it upon myself to get a personal perspective on how the coronavirus disease has affected the life of a practicing physical therapist and how one has managed to navigate through the midst of the new “normal”. I am blessed to share the insights of Dr. Eva Norman, physical therapist and owner of Live Your Life Physical Therapy located in Minnesota. Dr. Norman and her team specializes in health, wellness and prevention for her patients and community. I believe her experience and knowledge will greatly encourage those of you, like me, who are seeking clarity and help from someone who is in the healthcare industry and is actively practicing ways to stay healthy in a time of great uncertainty.
Me: Dr. Norman, with everything that is going on, I’m sure you’ve got a lot on your plate. How do you stay calm yet resilient during this pandemic?
Dr. Norman: I definitely feel overwhelmed and anxious at times but I actively try to reduce my stress and stay calm by asking myself the following questions each day:
- What am I grateful for today?
- Who am I checking in on or connecting with today?
- What expectations of “normal” am I letting go of today?
- How am I getting outside today?
- How am I moving my body today?
Often when I feel anxious, I stop and go for an intense walk or run. I have also been biking with a friend that maintains 20-30 feet away and we stay connected via our wireless headset. At home, I will run up and go up/down a flight of the steps as fast as I can forward/sideways. I also like to do chair pushups to maintain my upper body strength.
Me: I like those questions you ask yourself. I feel like it’s important to be conscious of the intentions you want to put forth in your day. I also resonate with the fact that you go outside for walks and runs. I think it’s important to physically get out and do activities outdoors.
Apart from exercise, how are you recovering? How are you structuring your nutrition, hydration and sleep?
Dr. Norman: I am eating more nutritious than usual (as well as saying no to sugars) and making sure I eat immunity-boosting foods since my business, family and my patients are relying on me to stay healthy. I recently started working with a health coach to accomplish this. Fresh herbs, garlic, lemons, vegetables, and bone broth are essential to giving your gut and cells the nutrients they need to keep your immune system thriving. 70% of your immunity originates in your gut, so you really want to care for it! I am also taking my supplements since my body is running through vitamins and nutrients more quickly to defend itself. I am taking supplements that boost the immune system such as Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Vitamin A, B complex vitamins, and Vitamin E.
With hydration, I believe getting enough water is definitely a priority. Adequate hydration helps your body circulate nutrients into your cells and help clear out the junk by-products that accumulate. You can even take it up a notch by adding a drop of lemon for some antioxidant support for your liver and immunity.
I am making sure I get 7-8 hours of sleep. When our bodies don’t get enough sleep, we are more prone to illness because your immune system suffers.
Me: That’s so true. I can’t function my best without a good night’s rest. And actually, I’ve also been adding lemon into my water every morning! I think it’s such a simple habit to pick up and to add those extra antioxidants into my diet. I love that you’re working with a health coach as well to optimize your nutrition. It just shows how even health care professionals, like yourself, can ask for help and get the help they need to support their patients the best that they can.
Are there any other personal things you are currently doing to stay focused and healthy?
Dr. Norman: Actually yes – talking about staying focused, I use my calendar wisely. I make sure to get in at least thirty minutes of exercise every day and I deal with emails two hours a day. I like to add fun activities as well so that I’m not always working like Netflix binging for about two hours! Professionally speaking, I’m currently taking courses to advance my clinical education since we are finding ourselves treating individuals with higher acuity levels. I am also taking professional development courses to become a better leader since my employees need a strong and skillful leader right now.
Me: That is inspiring. You’re willing to better yourself professionally for the benefit of your patients and employees. It goes to show that despite the pandemic, people can strive to grow their skills no matter their industry. And I think it’s important to add that you purposefully make time for yourself to rest and add some fun into your life!
Are there any last suggestions in terms of staying healthy that you would like to add?
Dr. Norman: Yeah I think taking the time to maintain and build relationships is an important part of staying healthy. I stay connected with friends through Zoom happy hours. My favorite one of the week is my PT happy hour which is Thursday nights at 8:30 PM for any PT out there needing support, laughter, and fun to help get them through these tough times.
Me: I agree. It’s important to have that sense of community and to intentionally schedule the time to do that. Thank you Dr. Norman for taking the time out of your day to speak with me and to share ways you are managing through this difficult time.
Dr. Norman: Thank you! I hope my strategies for a healthy living help you. Wishing you all great health, safety & well-being.
I hope that interview was encouraging for you! It was a pleasure talking with Dr. Norman and personally, I think I need to start purposefully scheduling happy hour with my friends as well to stay relationally healthy.
Feel free to comment below as to how you are staying healthy, or what Dr. Norman has shared that maybe you can try for yourself!
- “Severe Outcomes Among Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – United States, February 12–March 16, 2020.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 Mar. 2020, www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e2.htm?s_cid=mm6912e2_w#contribAff.
- Wood, Daniel, et al. “Coronavirus World Map: Tracking The Spread Of The Outbreak.” NPR, NPR, 27 July 2020, www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/03/30/822491838/coronavirus-world-map-tracking-the-spread-of-the-outbreak.
Hi, I’m Joshua! I’m in the business of optimizing the health and wellness of motivated individuals. I took three years off before going to college. During that time I served in the military and police force, traveled, discovered my passions and interests, and developed my sense of identity. I’ve found that I thoroughly enjoy novel experiences and engaging with a variety of cultures. I believe that there are no limits to what you can experience as long as you stay laser curious. Currently, I’m pursuing a doctor degree in Physical Therapy. I’m a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, which enabled me to be a part of the growing movement of preventative healthcare and holistic living. Furthermore, I’m passionate about entrepreneurship and learning how creative business models can improve healthcare. I try my best to live an active lifestyle and engage my creative side through content creation. I’m also a contributing writer for Startup Island: The Business of Being Happy and Healthy. If you would like to connect with me, feel free to reach out via my social media platforms!