Hold Onto Gains in Well-Being Made During Stay-At-Home Order

by Billie Orr, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Prescott and Lori Kennedy, ERAU Communications Coordinator

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission on Well-Being has continued to move forward with its initiatives to foster a culture of health and wellness in our community. As we all adapted to a new normal under Gov. Doug Ducey’s Stay Home, Stay Safe, Stay Connected policy these past weeks, it has provided a time for reflection, introspection and re-evaluation on how we live our lives.

As a commission, our goal is to set good principles for lifelong well-being for our residents, and no doubt we have all come away from this unprecedented time with a renewed sense of what does and does not matter.

While a plethora of Facebook posts and memes touted the challenges of staying fit, cravings for too many, and too much of, “bad” foods, longing for personal connections and worrying over financial issues, we come out on what is hopefully the other side to ask, “What good came out of this?” And there are just as many heartwarming, positive and encouraging stories speaking to that question.

  • People who may never have walked or hiked Prescott’s 100-plus miles of trails or lakes, got out and experienced the beauty of Prescott.
  • Hundreds of Prescott citizens have recently learned to play pickleball and checked out our state-of-the-art public courts in Pioneer Park. Four of the newest courts are lit for night play until 10 p.m., all free for everyone.  
  • Gardening has seen an increase not experienced in over 30 years, as attested to by Ken Lain of Watters Garden Center. People are embracing growing flowers, planting gardens and enjoying yard work. “It’s been the best days since we opened,” said Lain.
  • Pet adoptions soared in the early stages of the pandemic as people prepared to shelter in place. While millions had to adapt to work from home, practice social distancing and self-isolation, new pets kept them and their families company. Even hens found new homes as people looked for backyard pets to provide eggs in uncertain times.
  • While forcing people to keep their distance, for some families this time has brought them closer together. In the past, family members would be in different places or attending different activities. And now they’ve been able to be together as a family to watch movies, play games, cook and eat together.
  • Exercise became an important, conscious decision for many as they faced time at home without access to gyms, fitness facilities or even just the daily exercise one gets living life. One stationary bike company reported an 83% increase in sales, while online access to workout regimes soared. Many dogs have enjoyed the increase in walks with their best friends.

Other pertinent questions would be: “What have we learned, and how can we stay healthy right now?” And again, the lessons are innumerable. We’ve developed a higher consciousness to the status of our personal health and the importance of acquiring and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, so a few health and wellness takeaways would include:

  • Fresh, homemade foods are one important key to being healthy, and a great way to do that is to grow your own fruits and vegetables.
  • Creating a strong immune system is vital, not just to ward off viruses, but many other diseases and infections as well. Several ways to build your immune system are to get enough sleep, eat more whole plant foods, limit added sugars, engage in moderate exercise, stay hydrated and manage your stress levels.
  • Remain active — Stay-at-home orders have really heightened our awareness of the need to move your body. Keep up whatever good habits you started during this time — walking, hiking, videos — whatever has kept you moving, keep it going.
  • Stay hydrated —The benefits of drinking water are too many to list, but a few reasons to stay hydrated are proper hydration promotes cardiovascular health, water keeps your body cool, it helps muscles and joints work better, keeps skin supple, and helps cleanse your body — inside and out.

One of the commission’s first initiatives is the development of a survey to share with residents. The commission wants to hear from the citizens of Prescott on what aspects of health and wellness are most important to them. These survey responses will inform how the commission will design programs, events and services to fulfill our vision and mission. The survey will be available on the city website at www.prescott-az.gov. Some of the questions the survey will ask include:

  • Purpose Well-Being is enjoying what you do in your life each day, setting goals and being motivated to achieve them is an essential part of a well-balanced life. How do you rate your Purpose Well-Being?
  • A sense of community thrives when residents like and have pride in where they live and feel connected. How do you rate your Community Well-Being?
  • Social Well-Being is having supportive, loving relationships in your life through family, friends and community. How do you rate your Social Well-Being?
  • Please share your ideas, activities and/or expectations you would like to see developed by the Commission on Well-Being.

We encourage residents to watch for and respond to the survey. It will be foundational for the commission as it looks ahead to creating events and providing the resources our community needs to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The commission meetings are held at City Hall and open to the public. Contact Kelly Tolbert at kelly.tolbert@prescott-az.gov for dates and times of meetings.

Photo: Rita Kavanaugh, Billie Orr, Tracy Homer and Peg Travers getting in a workout at the newly lit Pickleball Courts in Pioneer Park.