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Tips & Tricks for Improving Your Mental Health During COVID-19

KPG Healthcare shares tips & tricks for improving your mental health during COVID-19.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it’s so important now than ever to take a moment and check-in with yourself. Mental health is equally important as your physical health and considering the circumstances of this virus, you should be conscious of both. The majority of Americans have been in lockdown since the end of March leaving us without the ability to practice our normal self-care routine/rituals that could include visiting friends/loved ones, exercising at a gym, hiking, catching a movie, eating out or even retail therapy.

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, KPG Healthcare wanted to share some helpful tips and tricks on how you can manage your mental health during COVID-19.

Tip #1: Breathe/Meditate

In times of stress, it’s always important to remember to breathe. Taking a minute or two to take some deep breaths will help calm your nerves and allow you to refocus your energy on tasks that matter. Practicing daily meditation provides many benefits like reducing anxiety, enhancing self-awareness, promotes emotional health, reducing stress and more.

There are many ways to meditate too! Some like to practice yoga with their meditation, there are helpful apps like HeadSpace or Insight Time that provide guided meditation (some require in-app purchasing) or simply finding a quiet space free from distractions.

Tip #2: Exercise

There is no doubt that exercising has many benefits not only for your physical health but your mental health as well. Studies have shown that exercise can help treat mild to moderate depression, relieves tension and stress through the release of endorphins, relax your muscles for any tension in your body, increasing your self-esteem, increasing your energy levels, and so much more.

Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean heavy weight lifting or 20 mile runs. Taking a walk through the neighborhood or doing jumping jacks is a great stepping stone into incorporating exercise into your life. Remember: everyone starts at square one and it can be easy to feel discouraged when you don’t see results, but don’t give up! Nothing in life comes easy but if you keep at it then there’s nothing you can’t do!

Tip #3: Pick up a new hobby

Finding or rediscovering a hobby is a great way to improve your mental health. Research has shown that people with hobbies rarely suffer from anxiety or depression because these activities will get us out, make us feel happier and more relaxed. Plus, who wouldn’t want to come out of lockdown with a new hobby to show off to your friends?

Check out this great article that breaks down how different hobbies can help different aspects of your mental health!

Tip #4: Plant Therapy

Plant therapy is not only another great hobby to incorporate into our lives but it’s a great way to help your mental health. There have been numerous studies showing how caring for plants (or even looking at plants) can reduce anxiety and provide a calming effect. Caring for plants allows us to have a sense of responsibility, feel connected with other living things besides humans, aid in relaxing and letting go of whatever is burdening us, release happy hormones and plants remind us to live in the present moment. Plants are also another great way to purify the air in your home!

Next time you’re at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s, make sure to take a stroll into the Garden Center and check out some of the great indoor/outdoor plants! Here’s a helpful guide/quiz for which houseplants to get!

Tip #5: Virtual Hangouts

With current lockdown restrictions and guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), we aren’t able to visit our friends or loved ones like before. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is impossible to see them.

With applications like Zoom or Houseparty, we can see our loved ones and connect with whenever we want. It’s important to check-in with your friends and family to see how they’re doing during this time but it’s also a great way to relieve whatever emotions you’re feeling. We are all going through some sort of lockdown and your loved ones will be there for you through thick and thin. Go call your mom!

Tip #6: Adopt a Fur Baby

Adopting a pet has many benefits, whether that be a dog, cat, hamster, rat, snake or a bird, pets are known to help alleviate stress, anxiety, depression and feelings of loneliness and social isolation. With COVID-19, some pet shelters are temporarily shutting down, leaving many animals without a home, but you are still able to adopt or foster!

Another study found that adopting a dog can increase your task performance, improve your self-esteem, keep us calm and can help keep you from going to the doctor! How amazing is that?! Go adopt a fur baby there are plenty of animals in need of a home!

There are a handful of ways to improve your mental health, but we hope you found some of our tips & tricks to be helpful during the COVID-19 lockdown. Whether you decide to take a walk, adopt a pet or buy a new plant, KPG Healthcare wants to make sure everyone remembers to take care of themselves. We will get through this difficult time as long as we look out for one another. Your mental health is important to us.

Please be safe.

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How to Self-Care during a Quarantine?
Self-Care during quarantine

Are you bored at home? Are you an essential worker who needs a night to unwind? Are you searching for a new hobby? Good news! With lockdown in place, you’ve got nothing but time on your hands!

With a lockdown in place for many states in the US, it’s time to focus on self-care. Self-care is important for your health both physical and mental, plus it’s a great way to get in touch with yourself to see how you’re feeling, what you’re feeling and how to go about your day from there. Self-care comes in many shapes and forms such as exercise, meditating, cooking, finding a new hobby, or even horticulture but self-care routines will vary based on your interests.

At KPG Healthcare, we believe in self-care and the importance of taking care of yourself.

Exercise those thighs!

It is one of the best ways to relieve some stress and get those endorphins flowing! With a lockdown in place, there are a handful of studios and trainers offering free online classes such as CorePower Yoga, Gold’s Gym, Barry’s Bootcamp, Chris Hemsworth and more! Many instructors from popular studios like SoulCycle offer Instagram Live classes to follow along with at home. Check out this full list here.

With a lack of proper equipment, people are starting to use their creativity to get that good muscle burn. For example, people are using their couches as a leg press, water jugs as dumbbells, or some people are creating their workout stations with concrete and wood!

If working out is not your style, exercise does include going for a nice stroll through the neighborhood. Just make sure to follow your city’s ordinances or new laws regarding COVID-19 safe practices!

Find a new Hobby!

This is a great time to start that new hobby you said you’d pick up back in 2010. You might as well focus your energy on something like knitting, drawing, calligraphy, planting, painting, building, etc. It can be hard to start a new hobby but skills do not develop overnight. Remember that every single person has started at square one in learning a new hobby or skill, so don’t get discouraged! We believe in you!!

Looking for some great hobbies to start in quarantine? Check out this list here.

DIY “Spa Day”

Who doesn’t love a good spa day! Too bad every spa is closed and you’re starting to look a little crusty. Unfortunately, we can’t do much about your hair – if it’s looking crazy, but we can help with the crustiness with a DIY Spa Day!

Drop a bath bomb or a few drops of essential oils into your bath/shower. Relax and sip some tea. Do a face mask with a glass of wine or more tea. Practice whatever skincare routine you have. Hopefully, by now you’ve got an idea on how to relax so any further steps will be at your discretion but we recommend reading a book, trim/paint your nails, pluck your eyebrows, shave, etc.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure you are relaxed and possibly unplugged from the world.

The Great American Cook/Bake Off

We all love to eat and that’s a FACT. But how many can you cook an edible meal? Don’t worry, lockdown can help you improve! Whether you’re a baker or a chef, or maybe both, you can always refine your skills with a knife or a whisk! Cooking/baking is also a great way to incorporate your housemates/significant others, but if you live alone you can always cook with your friends via Zoom!

Look up some recipes or research some of your favorite dishes, build a grocery list, prepare then cook! YouTube has a plethora of cooking videos or tutorials on how to do certain tasks with cooking utensils if you ever feel overwhelmed or lost.

When buying groceries, please wear a face mask and gloves. We cannot stress that enough.

Plant Babies and Gardening

We’ve been through this before but let’s talk about plants again. Plants are a great way to purify the air in your home and it can add some great colors to different living spaces. Planting is another great therapeutic way to relieve some stress after a long day/week of work. Just remember each plant is different and may require specific soil, water routines, lighting, placement and/or nutrients.

Horticulture can also include planting your garden full of herbs, vegetables and fruits! If you have the space for a garden, we recommend starting with some common herbs or easy vegetables like rosemary, mint, tomatoes, carrots, etc.

Other Options!

There are so many other options when in quarantine like picking up reading, reorganizing your home (Marie Kondo – spark joy), clean your home, learn a TikTok dance, write in a daily journal or play video games… There are many things we all can do to focus on our self-care. We must take time each day to realign our minds, our energies and our attitude.

In the meantime, please be safe during this pandemic. Wash your hands and don’t touch your face.

A message to all healthcare professionals, thank you.

Thank you for your service, your sacrifice and your willingness to fight this virus and support those who are in need. This is a time where we, as human beings, should come together and celebrate those who are keeping society on its feet, aka essential workers.

There aren’t enough words to describe how much we appreciate all healthcare workers and all essential workers during this unprecedented and difficult time. Society would not be operating if it weren’t for all of you. We hope all essential workers are doing their best to stay healthy, safe and to feel the love everyone else feels for your sacrifice.

KPG Healthcare thanks you for all that essential workers do.

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How to Travel with your Pets!
How to Travel with your Pets!

KPG Healthcare is here to give some helpful advice on taking a travel assignment with your pets!

You finally have the chance to take an assignment out-of-state but you have a pet…what should you do? Have no fear, KPG Healthcare is here to give you some helpful advice if you’re planning to travel with your pets! 

Check out this helpful page from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that outlines what YOU should do before traveling with your pet via airlines. 

Research

Research is the most important step in anything we do. It’s incredibly important when deciding on whether you should bring your pet with you on an assignment.

Airline vs Driving

The biggest question and determining factor when traveling with a pet is whether to use an airline or to drive. 

Airlines

Different airlines will have different rules about how a pet should travel. Your pet can either be checked-in and placed in a safe room within the cargo hold or placed in the cabin with you. One of the determining factors in whether your pet will be with you or in the cargo hold is the breed and size. 

For example, American Airlines does not accept snub-nosed dogs of any mix (Shih Tzu, Pugs, Boston Terrier, etc). Southwest Airlines will allow a pet into the cabin if the pet fits within a Pet Carrier with maximum dimensions of 18.5’ long x 8.5’ high x 13.5’ high. Check the airline’s pet policy before booking flights: Southwest AirlinesAmerican AirlinesUnited AirlinesAlaska AirlinesJetBlue AirlinesDelta Airlines.

Your pet will cost anywhere between $95-125 to be placed in the cabin. Some airlines may not allow more than one animal per person, but other airlines may accept two animals in one pet carrier. Regardless, you will need to make sure you indicate to the airline company that you will be bringing a pet on-board/check-in. 

Also, airlines may require documentation from your vet verifying your pet is safe to fly. 

Driving

Driving is the other option and, arguably, the easier solution. The majority of the travel nurses who take assignments with their pets will travel the country by car or RV. Traveling by car or RV allows travel nurses the opportunity to take assignments with their pets anywhere in the country. 

There may be some restrictions on crossing state lines with your pet, but make sure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations. Each state will have its own rules and regulations about bringing pets into the state. 

For example, Hawaii has strict rules on bringing any animal into the state. Check out California’s regulations. 

You should double-check your car is prepared for a long journey with your pets. There should be space for your pet to sit and lay down, enough food and water to get to your destination and make sure there are frequent stops for the potty, to run/walk, and to eat/drink. 

The Vet

It’s important to remember to ask your vet if your pet is well enough to travel via airlines or on a long road trip before departure. Vaccinations and health checks are important to consider when thinking about taking your pet on a flight.

If you plan on taking your pet on a plane, you CANNOT travel within 30 days of your pets’ rabies vaccination. Some airlines require you to microchip your pet before the flight.

If your pet has all their vaccinations and is good to fly, research a vet in your assignment city. It’s good to know where you can safely take your pet while on assignment in case of an emergency. It’s always a good idea to reach out to that vet in your assignment location to verify if your pet is accepted there for treatments. 

Housing

Housing is another factor you should research before taking an assignment. 

Not all housing, even Airbnb’s, will allow pets! It’s important to double-check with the host or leasing company to verify if pets are allowed OR if there is a pet deposit you would need to pay. If you’re not sure about pets, always ask questions! 

Plan

Now that you’ve done your research and have decided to bring your pet along for the assignment, it’s time to plan!

With the prior research, you should have an idea of whether or not you will be driving or flying, where you’ll be staying, and located a vet nearby. 

If you plan on driving to your assignment, it’s best to pack and plan with your pet in mind. A cleaning kit will come in handy for any accidents that might appear throughout the trip. A goodie bag with treats, toys, potty bags, and leashes should be kept together for easy access during any rest stop. 

If you plan on flying, make sure you have completed any requirements brought forth by the airline company, received a clean bill of health for your pet, and are up to date on vaccinations. Additionally, make sure you have indicated you will be bringing a pet on board the flight and the carry-on bag fits the dimensions. 

Cost-of-living will be different everywhere you go. It is wise to budget and calculate how much of your income will be going toward your pet(s). Creating a budget is a great way to see where your costs go and where you need to make cuts to save. Check out this website to compare the cost of living between where you live and where you’ll go!

Execute

By this stage, you’re about ready to head to your next assignment location with your pet! You’ve done the research and you’ve done the planning, all that’s left is to enjoy the fruits of your labor. 

If you’re flying, try to remain calm and remember to keep your pet in mind. Make sure you aren’t feeding your pet right before a flight, but allow plenty of time for them to eat and drink. Go to any pet relieving areas before your flight to avoid any accidents. 

If you’re driving, make sure to enjoy every moment of the journey! Stop and smell the roses, literally. Take your pet to a field of flowers and let them run wild. Just make sure you are taking plenty of breaks and resting when you can. 

The only thing left to do is to enjoy the journey to your next assignment.

If you’re looking for more resources, please refer to these other blog posts!  
American Traveler 
Host Healthcare
Blue Pipes

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