Erika Cappelluti, M.D., Ph.D.

As the pandemic wanes, home care providers and their patients can practice self-care to recover from the emotional toll the public health emergency has taken. That is according to Erika Cappelluti, M.D., Ph.D., fellowship director of the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine, who spoke to McKnight’s Home Care Daily.

“In general, I’d say people have experienced a tremendous amount of stress throughout this entire pandemic,” said Cappelluti, who noted that the stress has stemmed from people’s concerns about their health, households, finances and other issues.

Isolation also has been an effect of the public health emergency, particularly among older adults, said Cappelluti, who has an outpatient practice and an integrative clinic in Sedona, AZ. She pointed out that anxiety and depression are on the rise.  

“Mental health issues have really grown significantly since the start of this, and that is largely because of the isolation,” she said.  

Three E’s

To help regain their health, she recommends that both home care practitioners and their patients practice the “three Es: engage, exercise and education,” she explained.

Engage relates to interacting with family and friends. As more people are getting vaccinated, such socialization is more possible to do in person, which is “best to reverse feelings of isolation,” she said, noting that, technology also offers many ways for people to engage.

Exercise is also important, she said. Getting out nature is particularly restorative, she added.

“In medicine, we say movement is medicine,” she noted.

Education encompasses meditation, guided imagery and other mind-body practices. She pointed out that many of these approaches are free, as many groups sponsor meditation and phone apps are available to download for free. Also, people can talk to their healthcare providers about resources.

“There are a lot of opportunities of good health and wellness and what you can do to help yourself in these times,” she said.

Gaining perspective

While the pandemic has been taxing, it also has helped people to recognize what is most important, she said. Slowing down and nourishing those relationships and pursuits we consider precious is one. Taking care of ourselves is another.

“The path of love and service requires self-care,” she said. “A lot of the minutiae we are obsessed with is just that — minutiae. There are just so many more things that are important, not the least of which is our own self-care and our connection to others.”