Philadelphia Alumnae Shifts Focus to Physical & Mental Health of Its Members


Submitted by Jacqueline Greene

By Mid-March 2020, the novel coronavirus outbreak reached Philadelphia, PA. Both Governor Tom Wolf and Mayor Jim Kenney implemented containment measures attempting to stem the spread of the virus.  The pandemic and ensuing lockdowns caused incalculable loss, immeasurable challenges, and placed immense pressure on individuals, families, businesses and communities.  Recognizing the need to respond to chapter members’ increased stressors, the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter’s Physical and Mental Health Committee launched weekly virtual Sisterly Stretch and Stress Relief sessions.

FAMILIARITY, FAITH, FELLOWSHIP, AND FITNESS


Prior to the arrival of COVID-19 the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter incorporated movement breaks during monthly chapter meetings.  The movement breaks were designed to model the ease in which chapter members – regardless of age, shape, size, and fitness level – were able to incorporate brief periods of physical activity into daily routines.  The exercises demonstrated how strengthening and cardiovascular exercises can be accomplished seated or standing by almost anyone. 

Knowing that it’s important to connect with people who make each of us feel safe and happy during times of crisis, the Physical and Mental Health Committee held weekly Zoom meetings each Tuesday from 7:00 – 7:45 p.m., beginning March 14, 2020 and ending June 16, 2020.  Committee Co-Chair Leslie Marant led the sessions, which included low-intensity standing and seated stretches to relieve tension.  The sessions were designed to focus on the various ways in which COVID-19 causes stress.  Without intentional stress relief practices, our bodies internalize stress and cortisol levels remain elevated which in turn can lead to a myriad of harmful consequences.  Therefore, the stretch and stress relief sessions focused not on strengthening and cardiovascular exercises, but included stretching exercises to relax muscles.


Predictably COVID-19 contributed to increased anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, isolation, financial and emotional loss, and even suicidal ideation.  Therefore, the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter also included guided meditation in the program.  Chapter members Leslie Marant and Leslie Fletcher incorporated guided meditation into the weekly sessions to remind everyone of the importance of intentional quiet, mindfulness, and breathing to ground us when our foundations are shaken. Participants reported that the sessions were quite helpful in releasing tension.   

Ultimately, the Sisterly Stretch and Stress Relief sessions provided a weekly means of connecting in a positive way to reduce loneliness, exercise, and socialization for the benefits of our health in accordance with the goals of the DeltaCare and Red S.H.O.E. Initiatives.


Submitted by Jacqueline Greene By Mid-March 2020, the novel coronavirus outbreak reached Philadelphia, PA. Both Governor Tom Wolf and Mayor Jim Kenney implemented containment measures attempting to stem the spread of the virus.  The pandemic and ensuing lockdowns caused incalculable loss, immeasurable challenges, and placed immense pressure on individuals, families, businesses and communities.  Recognizing the …

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