Self-Advocacy Online Blog

Health & Wellness


Cliff Poetz is a Community Liaison with the Institute on Community Integration and a founding member of People First Minnesota.  He can be reached at


Now is a great time to think about wellness. It is important to talk with your doctor about scheduling an annual check-up or physical and make sure to get a flu shot if you haven’t already. Self-advocates should take the time to make sure their medications and equipment, such as wheelchairs and braces, are all working well. If you have questions or concerns about your health, let your staff know and they will help you take the action needed.

This year, health and wellness are even more important because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to keep wearing masks and socially distance from others until enough people have taken both doses of the vaccine. When it is available to you, please please please get it!  

Exercise is very important for staying healthy and well, but it is hard when gyms and other activities are closed down because of the pandemic. It can also be hard to get outside in the winter because of low temperatures, ice, and snow. But thanks to technology, there are ways you can workout at home. Talk to your doctor or therapists for ideas on what exercises are good for you and how you can do them at home. Look for different workouts and stretches online. Some local gyms have virtual classes and a lot of videos on working out can be found on YouTube and other social media. There are even some video games that help people workout from home. I take my walker around the building to exercise when I cannot go outside.  

Mental health is also an important part of taking care of your health. This last year was really hard for a lot of people and even if you haven’t spent time taking care of your mental health in the past, now is a good time to start. Make sure to express your feelings to loved ones and talk to a professional if you are feeling depressed or anxious.

Trying new things can help you keep your mind active and sharp. You can do things you’ve never done before and do them in a way that makes you feel good and accomplished. Try a new game or puzzle, a different sport or recreation, join different communities, or get more involved in education, policy, or politics. Talk to your local community or recreation center and find an activity that interests you. You may need to advocate for yourself if staff is not familiar with what you need to do this new activity.  Do your best to try new things and keep your mind and body healthy in the year to come.