CAMP ZAMA, Japan – When the Camp Zama Army Wellness Center’s offices had to shut down due to the threat of COVID-19, staff members continued with their mission, working from home, meeting with clients electronically and pumping out information online.
“During times like these, it is important to focus on what we can control in our lives,” said Lauren Williams, the center’s director and leader of the effort. “The sense of routine can help us be more resilient and have a more positive, optimistic outlook towards the uncontrollable stress. Things we can control are our schedule, sleep, activity, nutrition and our stress management.”
The center’s mission is to provide programs and services that improve and sustain the health, performance and readiness of the Army as a whole, and with the advent of COVID-19, people needed them more than ever. So when it came to focusing on what they can control, Williams and her staff led by example.
For example, the center has shifted five of its in-person classes on sleep, nutrition, fitness, stress management and cooking to Facebook Live, and the schedule is on their Facebook page.
In addition, although in-person services such as fitness, body composition and metabolic testing are not available due to the office being closed, staff members have continued health coaching and health assessments via electronic means, Williams said.
Shannon Vo, a health educator at the center, said she welcomes new clients, and people can contact the center to schedule an appointment for coaching or an assessment.
Vo said health assessments are available via telephone or face-to-face video, and although exact metabolic testing is not available, she can substitute calculations based on gender, height and weight to determine how many calories a person should consume daily.
Although the calculations are not as exact as the in-house testing, they are usually within a couple hundred calories, Williams said.
“It’s a good substitute for the meantime,” Williams said. “The best thing would be to measure [in person], but it at least gets us to the ballpark where people can still work towards something and then when this is all lifted and we can reopen all our services, we can actually give them that number that’s their actual metabolism.”
Vo said that for many of her clients, diet and fitness are “on the backburner,” and it’s stress and sleep management they seek to improve.
“I tackle that more with [clients] these days, helping them explore techniques they can work on at home and just making sure they have their homework,” Vo said.
Others, however, want to know how to maintain a fitness regimen during disruptions in their usual routines, Vo said.
“If they prefer a telephone call, that’s fine; I just do it from the clinic,” Vo said. “For some people, seeing my face helps them and helps me because if someone is experiencing high stress, it’s helpful for them to see that I’m empathetic to what is going on.”
Williams said that since moving most of their services online, the center has begun several new initiatives and collaborations.
For example, the center has worked with Camp Zama’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Community Immunity Team to go live on their Facebook page at 11 a.m. each Thursday.
The center’s staff is also working on eBooks, Williams said, and they plan to release the first one about training for the Army Ten Miler run by the end of June.
The book will include training guides, strength programs, highlights from a physical therapist at Medical Department Activity – Japan, Army Ten Miler team members and a running specialist, Williams said.
The center is also doing cooking demonstrations, demonstrations on how to shop the commissary, and making five- to seven-minute workout videos to teach people proper exercise form, Williams said.
The center has also challenged community members to create videos, and so far the Behavioral Health chief at the BG Crawford F. Sams U.S. Army Health Clinic Japan has discussed self-care, and the Zama Middle High School culinary teacher has provided a healthy recipe, Williams said.
Another resource people can access is the #MasterStress hashtag by the Army Public Health Center with the Army Wellness Centers, which brings people to recordings of stress-management videos, Williams said.
Williams said during this time, it is especially important for people to make a commitment to themselves and to set goals and a schedule.
“I know it can be challenging to remain optimistic when our lives look dramatically different than they used to, but by taking the first step to take care of yourself, you are setting an intention to help manage your stress,” Williams said. “We will all get through this together.”
People can contact the center through Facebook at “Army Wellness Center Camp Zama” by sending a message or using the appointment scheduling feature, Williams said.