This spring, I finally tried a virtual reality experience. (I’m definitely not an early adopter.) Part of a new lineup of activities at Welk Resorts San Diego, the underwater VR adventure is for recreation (Page 25). But what about health? VR has been used to assist in medical outcomes for a few years; a stress management program called CenteredVR was introduced this year at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach.
Crystal Watson, a float pool nurse at Hoag, shared her experience. “During the peaks of COVID-19, our nurses switched to primary care,” Watson says. “Vitals, activities, oxygen, trash, environment—you took care of everything about those patients. That was physically and emotionally draining.” Neurosurgeon Robert Louis suggested the COVID-19 nurses try VR. “At first I was a little hesitant because I had never used VR at all,” Watson says. “I was giving it to the patients, but I never thought I’d need it. When Dr. Louis talked about it, my eyes lit up.”
We’ve all had more anxiety lately and need to decompress. When a nurse taking care of COVID-19 patients since day one says the VR program helped, I couldn’t wait to learn more. “I used it a lot after my shift. I’d come home very stressed, put on the VR, and just kind of relax for about 10 minutes or sometimes longer,” Watson says. Was it much different from regular meditating? Her reply: “I’m a visual person. Even if I’m sitting down, trying to meditate, I’m still thinking of other things.” Me, too!
Whether you use VR to be transported, or you seek a divine meal in a lovely setting to relax (Page 64), or you want to take advantage of our beautiful trails for a walk or ride (Page 82), you’ll find ideas throughout this issue to boost your health and happiness. As summer begins, we can feel the joy of getting back to what we love. Hopefully that includes some beneficial habits and keeping our minds and bodies well.