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CU experts say new routine and new mindset are helpful during social distancing

April 17, 2020

As Pennsylvanians continue to practice social distancing by living mostly from inside their homes, Clarion University experts have advice to help people stay mentally and physically healthy.

“There is an 80-10-10 rule for transitions and traumatic events,” said Tom Crissman, senior student support assistant for the Clarion University Center for Wellness. “Eighty percent of the population will find peace with this transition within a month or so, 10 percent will actually come out of this better than they were before, and 10 percent will have difficulty with this transition.”

Feeling secluded and isolated are normal feelings during this transition and time of quarantine.

"Why are we trying to fight normal reactions?" Crissman said.

To counteract the feeling of upheaval, it is important for people to establish a new routine and, equally important, a new mindset.

"The house isn't the problem; it's how you feel in it," Crissman said. "How do you make that space in that particular moment special and unique to your activity?"

He recommends thinking of your home as your favorite place and establishing zones to use for specific purposes.

"Maybe you do most of your studying or work at your desk or in your office," Crissman said. "Is there a room in your house that could be dedicated to that purpose?"

He suggests thinking about the details that make your usual workspace comfortable for that purpose.

"Is it the pictures on your walls? The plant on the corner of your desk? The lighting? How do you replicate that as closely as you can?" he said.

Dr. Carol Brennan Caplan, director of the Nutrition and Fitness program agrees with the value of establishing a routine. She recommends creating a prioritized to-do list, and making a schedule and sticking to it.

She emphasizes the additional importance of "moving your body." Many free resources for guided exercise are available because of the pandemic.

"You may be able to find online exercise routines that are sponsored by your local gym. You could also just do a search for exercise routines in different areas such as yoga, HIIT, resistance training, pilates, dance, etc. There is a lot out there," Brennan Caplan said.

General guidelines for cardio are available here. Brennan Caplan said not to be discouraged if you can't meet those standards right away.

"Something is better than nothing," she said.

Among the free resources recommended by Clarion University's Center for Wellness is the National Fitness Campaign app. National Fitness Campaign is the initiative that brought the outdoor fitness court to campus.

"The app has a blue icon that shows a person doing pull-ups on a ring," said Jim McGee, Center for Wellness director. "Once you have created your profile, go to the 'train' tab on the bottom. There you will find a seven-minute home workout that is for any skill level and doesn't use any equipment."

New home workouts will be posted weekly.

Encouraging mental well-being is another priority.

"There are many ways to keep yourself going and primed, and the great thing about working from home is that you can design your day to fit your mental needs," Crissman said.

The freedom to design one's routine means people can fill breaks with puzzles, exercise or naps.

"There was a time where your options would be limited to the funnies in the newspaper or a crossword puzzle, but now there are games and online quizzes, apps, and still the funnies, so find something that you enjoy doing and carve out some time daily to practice it," Crissman said.

Brennan Caplan said it's important to mental well-being to maintain contact with family and friends, while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Online resources are also available for those who require additional care for their mental health.

"There are people all over the world that can help, and more providers every day are moving to Zoom, Skype or Facetime for counseling," Crissman said.

Last Updated 1/11/21