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There's Still Ways to Stay Physically and Mentally Healthy During COVID-19 Isolation

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Tim Shelley / WCBU
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Ted Bender, president of UnityPlace.

In these times of COVID-19-induced isolation, mental health experts say it's important to still find way to stay connected.
Ted Bender is president of UnityPlace, a behavioral health and addiction treatment group in Peoria.
 
"Continue to maintain contact with family and friends," Bender said. "And in times of increased isolation, as we are facing right now, instead of just sending that text message like we're all very accustomed to doing, make that phone call, get on videochat, talk with your family and friends to stay connected."

Bender said COVID-19 fears can have an acute effect on people suffering from mental health disorders. He said for many patients with anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder, the coronavirus seems like many of their fears are coming true.


Bender said while social distancing and self-quarantines are realities, that shouldn't discourage people from seeking out help.
 
"Individual therapy is still continuing. Telehealth therapy is still continuing. Access to your therapist is still available," he said. "And when we're suffering from these types of crises, it's important now more than ever to stay in touch with them and to continue following guidelines even during this crisis."
 
Bender also says physical self-care like eating healthy foods and getting plenty of exercise remain important. And he says if 24/7 coronavirus coverage on cable TV is causing stress...turn it off.Health officials say you may want to avoid the gym for your workouts for a while.
 
Some gyms have already closed in Illinois in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Monica Hendrickson, Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator, said it's best to avoid large group settings that may heighten exposure to the coronavirus.
 
"You can still exercise in your own home. You're still able to go on walks, socially distancing yourself from those areas," Hendrickson said. "Take precautions and recognize that your exposure as well as possibly exposing others is what really is going to help us through this event."
 
Bender said it's still important to get exercise.
 
"It is one of the best medicines, one of the best weapons against mental health disorders. And there's quite a bit you can do in your home. Push-ups, sit-up, squats," he said.  Bender also recommended watching online workout videos.
 
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo closed all gyms, theaters, and casinos on Monday night to further limit large group gatherings. Officials recommend social distancing to limit the virus' spread. Many Illinois gyms are still open to the public, but health officials say it may be better to seek alternatives.
 
As of Monday afternoon, there were 105 COVID-15 cases in 15 Illinois counties.