The nation has watched the 2019 novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, make its way across the globe and disrupt health and financial systems along the way. Lately, these reports contain real-time statistics showing the pandemic’s rapid rise in our own neighborhoods.
While the number of infections grow, information on how to overcome the virus doesn’t. This lack of knowledge about COVID-19 has created feelings of fear, anxiety and lack of control. That’s one of the big reasons why the pandemic has caused so much stress — humans tend to fear the unknown or something we know little about.
Receiving the appropriate amount of credible information could reduce stress, but an overload of information so heavy on devastation can increase it and raise it to dangerous levels. However, one thing we do know is that the stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic can weaken the immune system.
What is the relationship between emotional health and our immune system? Tasneem Doctor, Vice President of Behavioral Health at Equality Health, explained the process.
“Anxiety can trigger your flight-or-fight stress response and release a flood of chemicals and hormones, like adrenaline, into your system,” stated Doctor. “This can weaken your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to viral infections and frequent illnesses. Also, when we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced, and we are more susceptible to infections.”
Just the Facts, Ma’am
With media updates about COVID-19 and its disrupting effects released daily — sometimes hourly — stress overload is bound to happen. The good news is that we can control the level of stress in our lives by doing things to help us keep a positive attitude.
“Maintaining a positive attitude will reduce your levels of anxiety and stress,” advised Doctor, “which will help the fight against infections and sickness.”
While healthcare authorities work to control this new disease, we don’t have to let it overtake our emotions. Below are six recommendations from Equality Health to help lessen the anxiety and fear that COVID-19 causes in our lives.
1. Obtain Information from Credible Sources – The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) supply information about COVID-19 that we can trust. The information they report is based on scientific data and investigations and provides what measures we should take for the safety of our families.
2. Ignore False Information on Social Media – A lot of the information we share on social networks is not based on facts and can misinform the necessary measures to take in case of emergency. False information can cause confusion and increase anxiety.
3. Be Realistic – Healthcare providers have their mission to treat and support those who become sick, and public health authorities are working to protect the population most vulnerable to the disease, such as senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions. The majority of us infected by COVID-19 will only experience mild-to-typical flu-like symptoms that we can weather with bed rest. The recent guideline set by Governor Ducey to stay at home has had a positive impact in some countries affected by COVID-19.
4. Keep Kids Informed – Share information with children in an honest manner that’s appropriate for their age. In addition, maintain a consistent routine that limits their access to information on social media.
5. Connect With Loved Ones – While quarantines are sometimes necessary, they are not ideal for our emotional well-being. Continuing social connections can promote a sense of normalcy and provide an opportunity to share feelings, which can help reduce anxiety and stress. Maintain connections by talking on the phone, video chats and texting. Share information from credible sources as a way to offer support to loved ones.
6. And last but not least – be sure to exercise as much as you can. There are various online exercise routines that you can do from home. A healthy heart is the pathway to a happy life.