Taking care during a crisis: Maintaining our physical fitness and mental well-being

Taking care during a crisis: Maintaining our physical fitness and mental well-being

by Jennifer Brown
Stripes Okinawa

Editor’s note: At Stripes Okinawa, we love to share your stories and share this space with our community members. Here is an article written by Jennifer Brown, a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. If you have a story or photos to share, let us know at okinawa@stripes.com.


We have all heard that we need to focus on maintaining good health and a healthy well-being before. However, as we continue to deal with this COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty, it is imperative that we remember take care of ourselves, both physically and mentally. Maintaining a delicate balance is easier said than done and the tips below are meant to help ease a bit of the stress you may be feeling.

Keeping physically fit

During stressful circumstances, it is easy to get overburdened with stress and worries. For people who are now unable to leave their homes, getting in some exercise becomes even more difficult. The great thing about physical activity, however, is that there is no “perfect” program out there. You can get creative about working out and have fun while you are doing it. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to add a few minutes of easy exercises during the day that you find enjoyable. Whether you are doing normal household activities or you are working from home, setting aside just a few minutes to get your blood pumping can not only give you a break in your day, but may also act as a stress relief.

If you prefer structured workouts, there are plenty of videos on YouTube or phone apps that can help you find keep up with your routine. Gyms are closing and workout classes are postponed but check Facebook for virtual group activities and classes you can join.

On Okinawa, a few running groups have created virtual races in honor of canceled races previously planned. The concept involves logging miles run on a treadmill or on your own and sharing it with the group for some friendly competition to keep you active.  Virtual groups not only provide motivation, but also give us a sense of community and purpose as well as human connection, all of which are important in staying physically and mentally healthy.

Whatever your situation is, try adding an activity you enjoy to your day.

Maintaining our mental health

Like our physical health, keeping our mental well-being during a time of stress is crucial. The way we think about and perceive our world ultimately has a tremendous impact on our experience. Like our physical fitness, we can use activities we enjoy maintain our mental health. For example, doing yoga, journaling, watching your favorite movie or television show, or just spending time with family may help to destress and take our mind off things for a while.

One of the positive benefits of having to either stay at home or spend more time at home is that we have more time to spend with our families. Our families are the support system we can lean on for a sense of community and togetherness during times of uncertainty. Even if you cannot physically be with together, phone calls and technology are bringing us closer to our friends and families without having to leave our homes.

While these are just a few suggestions, my hope is that this is a reminder to take some time and care for yourself. The impacts of the stress and worry about the unknown can be heavy, but there are ways to lighten the load a bit. Practicing self-care does not have to be difficult! On a final note, please remember to be kind to yourself and allow for some leeway; these are difficult times are not going to last forever.  


Jennifer Brown is a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. Originally from Florida, she joined the Navy in 2018, and has been on island for over a year. During her free time Brown enjoys spending time with animals, running, rock climbing, and hiking. She is an alumni of the University of Central Florida, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Her professional interests include social work, animal welfare, and children.

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