Managing your Neurological Condition Despite the Pandemic
Perharps at no other time in our collective history does the concept of stay healthy feel so vital. Sure, our health and wellness should always be a priority, and not just during a pandemic. But one thing that the novel coronavirus has taught us is that prioritizing our health and the health of those around us may be a matter of survival.
For patients with neurologic concerns, staying healthy during this time in our world necessitates some additional care and attention. Here are tips that can help those who experience condition flare-ups during times of high stress stay physically and mentally healthy.
First, it’s essential to keep your appointments with your provider. Evidence suggests an increase in non-COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality during the pandemic – likely related to a reduction in medical care for cardiovascular and neurologic conditions, among others. Although in-person doctor appointments may be limited or involve new logistical challenges, many providers have established telemedicine platforms through which they can conduct virtual visits. Before canceling an appointment or worse, just not showing up to one – reach out to your health care provider’s office to find out what protocols are in place for in-person visits and to inquire about virtual visits. Even though in-person appointments are ideal, technology offers plenty of ways to stay connected with patients. Whether it’s a brief phone conversation with your physician or an email exchange, staying connected can do a world of good for your health.
If you’re proceeding with a virtual appointment, there are a few things you can do ahead of time to prepare. First, ensure that your internet connection and device you’ll be connecting from are stable. If you’re using a platform or app that your doctor’s office recommends, load it onto your device before your appointment and, if possible, test it out to make sure it works properly. Once you’ve done that, conduct your virtual meeting in a space that has good lighting and minimal disruption so that you and your provider can have a proper visit.
In-between appointments, prioritize taking care of yourself. If you experience neurologic condition flare-ups that are brought on or made worse by stress, get to the bottom of what those stressors are, and minimize or eliminate them. Is watching the news provoking anxiety? Minimize your exposure to daily consumer news, or only access reports from official health or government websites that provide the facts, with no anecdotal commentary.
Are your flare-ups a result of significant disruption to your everyday routine? Try creating a method that helps you adapt to and abide by whatever orders are in place at your local level, but that still provides you with a predictable schedule you can follow daily.
Speaking of your daily routine: Make sure it incorporates regular exercise, meditation and adequate sleep. Even if you can’t get outside to work out, there are a variety of at-home fitness opportunities you can take advantage of. Just be sure to clear them with your doctor before you start.
Although sleep and meditation may feel like passive activities, be rest assured that they are not. A significant number of neurological conditions are brought on or made worse by stress and/or a lack of quality sleep. So keep yourself to a consistent sleep schedule, and minimize bedroom distractions (including those on your phone) so your body can get the rest it needs. Carve out just a few minutes to sit still, relax and breathe. Your mind and body will be thankful you did.
If you have a neurological condition and are worried about your medical care, reach out to your doctor’s office. Even during a pandemic, they want to help.