Are you anxious about the coronavirus pandemic?
Many people are.
And with good cause.
Every time you turn on the news, or scroll Facebook you see how the pandemic is spiraling out of control. Every day.
Now I know there isn’t a soul on the planet who has not heard of the coronavirus. But just in case…
The coronavirus started in Wuhan china from a bat at a live animal market and was somehow transmitted to a human.
Some viruses are confined to animals and don’t spread to humans, but COVID 19 somehow managed to leave the animal reservoir onto a human host, and then human to human transmission started.
The problem is the virality and the speed at which the virus spreads and illness escalates.
And it is enough to cause and increase anxiety knowing the virus is now in the community and no longer in a far-flung place on the other side of the world.
Listening to the number of deaths in places like Italy…hundreds each day.
And then other cities across the world following suit. New York now and Alabama and scores of cities across the US are battling this virus.
So we are now on lockdown. And that means loss of jobs and income and freedom and inability to relate(close contact) like a hug and shake hands.
Totally breaking down the fabric of society and the economy.
All of these are enough to provoke huge anxiety.
It is the lack of control. And the worry not only about how is one to avoid getting sick and keep the family and loved ones safe, but also the economic implications.
You don’t know for the most part who has it.
And the disease and the virus are not quite understood by scientists. It’s a novel. We have no immunity to it.
So how can we avoid being so anxious in the times of the coronavirus?
Even in these dire times that make us feel so vulnerable, there are a few measures we can take to reduce the amount of anxiety we feel.
So lets us look some ways we can keep anxiety due to the coronavirus pandemic down.
#1 Be prepared
We need to be prepared. No, that doesn’t mean buying all the toilet paper in the store. It is a good idea to have enough without really hoarding though because the less the trips to the store the better especially if you are anxious.
Make sure you have the things you need in case you have to be in quarantine and to minimize the need to go out into public places like the market.
Have your doctors fill out prescriptions for three months at least if possible, in anticipation of supply problems.
Knowing you have the essentials you need to stay safely at home will reduce anxiety.
Make sure if you live with others they too understand the risks and that they follow stay home orders and quarantine if needed.
Ensure you and your household are following proper hand hygiene.
Essentially, be proactive. This will ease anxiety. While the fear is there, knowing you are taking proper measures and that you essentials like medications for a few months will relieve some anxiety.
#2 Strengthen social connections despite social distancing.
We are supposed to exist in society. We need to associate, with others. We need hugs and smiles and laughing with others. We feel whole when we feel loved in different ways by different people.
Unfortunately, close contact right now can make one catch coronavirus. yet we need each other. We need friends and families. We need to give and receive love.
Existing in society and having social support helps not only with mental health but also in strengthening immune health.
So while we cannot congregate and we cannot be in close contact with people we can still maintain our social bonds. Luckily there is so much we can do with technology nowadays.
You can do video calling with those quarantined or if you are quarantine yourself. Get on Facetime with loved ones and family and friends.
Send messages of hope and encouragement. Send helpful information to help others know more about the disease as we find more information.
Keep in touch as much as possible without being physically present.
Join Online Support groups.
Another way to combat loneliness and abate anxiety is by joining groups online that offer social support.
Just make sure the group information is not making you more anxious.
If the information shared in the group makes you more anxious, then just leave.
One group that I find pretty helpful for anyone who has a mental illness such as depression and anxiety is Faith Maries group the writer of Radical Transformation.
In such a group, you can talk to others who understand what you may be going through mentally and they will no judge you.
This is a group that is great for support not just now but in all the other times when you may struggle with anxiety or depression.
#3 Be present at home as you shelter in place.
Keep in mind that this call is only if none of you are sick. If any family member is sick they need to quarantine. And that is hard. But support them through online communication.
Send messages and facetime often. Play games with them online. Watch programs “together.”
But if you can be with family and all are well and are sheltering at home please be present. Don’t have your phones at dinner for example. Communicate and find ways to make home time fun.
Play games after dinner, watch movies together. Have fun activities.
Really engaging is one great way to reduce anxiety.
Making sure you don’t have distractions such as social media and electronic gadgets spoiling family interaction will improve your mental health.
Being present with loved ones as long as they are not sick or likely exposed to COVID can help reduce anxiety.
#4 Get information from trustworthy sources
There is so much information floating out there. From the White House and the media channels who do you trust?
The best place to get real information that is helpful is the CDC website.
And their information is updated daily as they find more information.
So make a point to visit their website to see what is the fact and what is a myth.
Getting the wrong information can be disastrous as is evidenced by recent deaths of people taking chloroquine.
Those kinds of things make anxiety even worse.
There is power in having the right information.
So armed with information from good sources should help you know what is known and what to do to protect yourself and your loved ones.
How can you take control in regard to coronavirus anxiety? You take control by assessing your risk of
Be careful about the news you watch.
Sensational news is not helpful. It’s better to avoid such news.
But that said, watching misleading news from sources that minimize the situation is not good either.
So be picky about where you get your news.
As mentioned above accurate information is absolutely necessary so you don’t worry unnecessarily and also so you prepare accordingly.
Thus armed you can feel a sense of calm even if not complete control.
You know what you may expect and have an idea of what the best preventative care is.
#5 Assessing risk factors.
After garnering information from trustworthy sources, then assess your situation.
Assess your risk factors for contracting the virus.
Do you have other health issues that have weakened your immune system?
According to the CDC, those with severe underlying medical conditions are likely to get severe illness. These underlying conditions include diabetes, lung disease, heart disease.
They also have a self checker to help you assess risk and likely illness that you can access here on the CDC website.
Are there people confirmed to have the virus in your area, your home town, or your neighborhood? Who are the people you have come across?
Any of them ill right now?
What are the complications you can expect if you got COVID 19? I know that is scary. But it is better to be quite realistic about the threat.
Some people don’t show any signs. And there are some people who are getting over this illness.
But knowing the risk of getting it really is there, so we must do everything possible to avoid exposure.
Follow the measures from doctors and others who are good sources of information.
Knowing you are putting those preventative measures in place will ease some anxiety.
#6 Protect yourself and loved ones with healthy precautions
Here are the CDC guidelines on prevention.
This means that if quarantine is called for, you make sure to observe it. Make sure that you are all washing your hands frequently.
Avoid touching your face. I know. This is hard to do.
Have your groceries delivered to you and left outside your door.
Avoid going to the market if at all possible. But if you have to go, wear a mask. Even if it is just a bandana, something to protect you from inhaling anyone’s airborne viral droplets.
And, just in case you have the virus but don’t know yet, you won’t transmit it to others as well. I think it can cause anxiety to know you are the reason someone got violently sick.
Also, try and find sanitizing wipes and take them with you.
I know it may feel overkill but some products are behind cases and everyone touches them. Use your wipe to open those doors.
Carry your hand sanitizer and sanitize frequently if you must be in a place like a store.
Wash your hands immediately after you get home.
Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly.
Singing the ABC song is helpful ad meets the criteria of scrubbing with soap and warm water for 15 seconds.
Show your children how to wash their hands properly.
Going to the store can really provoke COVID anxiety so avoid it as much much as possible.
#7 Accept what you cannot change
Please know that I am not saying you sit back and do nothing.
No, you do all you can to protect yourself, your loved ones, and others.
But simply this. There are many things we have no control over.
Like when a hurricane will hit, when you want the to sunshine but it rains, and so much more. Life is like that.
And this is just one more thing that is beyond our total control.
So we need to do the social distance, sanitize, clean our hands, eat healthily, exercise at home and hope it is enough to keep us well.
#8 Speak to a mental health professional
If you suffer from anxiety, or this situation is making you overly anxious and messing your mental health, seek out mental health counseling.
And one good thing is that nowadays there are many online counselors available.
So you can shelter in place and still get needed mental health care.
Sometimes it helps to speak to a professional who can help you find ways to cope you may not have thought of.
There is no weakness in seeking mental health care. In fact, it is a strength to do so.
#9 Strengthen your immune health with nutrition
Eating healthy nutritious food is a crucial element in keeping your self and family from getting sick.
One way to strengthen your immune health is to eat foods that are immune protective such as foods full of antioxidants like vitamins A C and E.
So let’s look at some of the best foods for immune health.
Fermented foods such as:
Fermented foods are great for healthy gut flora.
We now know just how much gut health is important to your whole health. And to underscore this, it is interesting to know that about 70% of your immune health is in your gut. The gut is home to 70 % of cells that make up the immune system. So by eating foods that nourish your probiotic bacteria, you strengthen your immune health.
An unhealthy gut causes many autoimmune health issues and those who suffer autoimmune problems also tend to have gut problems such as IBS, Crohn’s, etc.
And having digestive problems causes systemic inflammation weakening the immune system.
Probiotic-rich foods such as fermented foods will support your good bacteria and when you have a thriving community of gut microbes, your immune system is stronger and able to fight viruses and bad bacteria.
But if you have systemic inflammation and have an inflammatory condition such as diabetes, you are more susceptible to infections.
So protecting and promoting your gut health is important to boost your immune health.
Plus, eating these healthy fermented foods also improves mental health.
That way you actually reduce anxiety and you’re also strengthening your immune health.
This will give you some peace of mind in knowing you are doing something good for your whole health.
Foods high in vitamins to strengthen your immune system
Some of the best foods to boost your immune health are foods like citrus that are great sources of vitamin C.
Vitamin C is important for immune health and is thought to help increase white blood cells, the immunity providing cells.
But because vitamin C is water-soluble, the body cannot store it. It must be replenished every day.
The good thing that there are plenty of sources of vitamin C.
Apart from citrus other sources of vitamin C include red peppers, kiwis, and many vegetables.
Red peppers and other bright colorful vegetables and some fruits contain Carotenoids.
Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that work hard to prevent and stop oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is linked to some illnesses such as cancer, and heart disease (source).
While this is not directly infections protective, when cells are beaten down by oxidative stress, they are more likely to succumb to infections.
So eating brightly colored foods such as peppers with their potent beta carotene and vitamin C will strengthen the immune system.
And red peppers actually have more vitamin C than citrus fruits.
If you did manage to get a few bags of frozen peppers to make a nutritious stir fry dish and boost your immune system.
Leafy greens are great sources of vitamin C and A.
These power antioxidants will strengthen your immune health and cut chances of getting sick with infectious diseases including coronavirus.
Keep in mind that you need to be practicing all the other caustic mentioned here and on the CDC website.
Additionally, leafy greens contain magnesium, folate, zinc, calcium iron, B 6thiamine, choline, and niacin.
All these functions in a way that helps you have better immunity, or helps with better nerve function( B6 magnesium and folate, and choline).
And Niacin is required for energy production.
Take comfort in know ign you have done all you can do.
You are not giving up, you are not being complacent. You are giving yourself peace of mind by being worked by something you cannot change.
You are taking comfort in knowing you have taken all the measures you can.
You have social distanced, you are cleaning hand and avoiding touching your face, and being aware if you must go out to run errands for example. Is there anything else you can do?
Many cultures across the world have revered mushrooms’ health benefits for ages.
Indeed, the Greeks believed mushrooms were food for warriors providing vitality in battle, while the Romans believed mushrooms are food for the gods, and the Chinese saw mushrooms as an elixir of life. Mushrooms still hold a special place in health and medicinal extracts.
This awe about mushrooms is understandable because research has found that many edible mushrooms are full nutrients such as selenium, vitamin D, potassium, riboflavin, niacin proteins, and fiber.
According to research, with new increased interest in mushrooms, it has been found that many mushrooms are like mini pharmaceutical factories, containing many compounds that act as antiviral, anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic and more.
In fact, more than 100 medicinal functions have been found (source).
Vitamin E rich foods
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and essential to a healthy immune system. Vitamin E helps to fight free radicals that cause inflammation and weakening of cells.
Eat foods like nuts and seeds that are good sources of vitamin E such as Walnuts, almonds, and flax seeds pumpkin seeds and many others.
Lean meats such as grass-fed beef and poultry are great sources of zinc.
Zinc increases the production of white blood cells which are the main source of our immune system.
Also, you can get zinc from other sources such as seafood like oysters or even from nuts like almonds.
Get enough vitamin D to improve immune health
You can go outside more. At least 15 minutes of sun exposure will give you the vitamin D you need to improve immune health.
But if you live in the northern hemisphere you may not get that much sun exposure.
So eat Salmon or mushrooms. Get fortified foods like fortified orange juice, milk and good quality cereal. All contain vitamin D.
Why Vitamin D?
In a 2011 article published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine, reports that vitamin D receptors are expressed in several immunologic cells such as T and B cells as well as antigen-presenting cells, and all these cells are capable of synthesizing the active vitamin D metabolite.
These are all indicators that vitamin D is required and is an important part of the immune function.
In the old days when TB was rampant, T B sufferers were sent to sun sanatoriums for treatment the article states. And that was because it was thought that sunlight treated TB.
Additionally, cod liver oil, a rich source of vitamin D was also used to treat TB and as a protective measure against infections( source).
There is now substantial research showing that lower vitamin D levels are associated with frequent infections.
A research study between 1988 and 1994 of 19000 subjects showed that those with less than 30ng/ dl of vitamin D often reported recent respiratory infections.
It is evident that vitamin D is important in both adaptive and innate immune health. Research has found that pts with low vitamin D are likely to have autoimmune diseases such as lupus and severity has a correlation to vitamin D deficiency.
Also, it was found that immune cells of pts with autoimmune disease respond to vitamin D supplementation, suggesting vitamin D helps the immune system work better.
So basically, boost your immune health by eating healthy nutritious foods, and supplementing if you have deficiencies.
Note that you need to be sure you have a vitamin D deficiency. Too much vitamin D is toxic.
See this article for other vitamins and their role in health.
Lower anxiety about Coronavirus by ensuring a healthy immune system.
What are some other ways of reducing coronavirus-induced anxiety?
#10 Follow the guidelines and mandates set in place for safety
- Sanitize your environment
- Wash your hands correctly and often
- Please please stay home
Know you are doing all that is possible to keep you and your family safe and healthy by following the advice from medical authorities.
#11 And also very important to reduce pandemic induced anxiety, practice self-care.
That means including activities that help you relax and reduce stress such as …
- Sleep enough
- listen to music
- Have long luxurious baths
- Practice gratitude
- clean your house an organize: clutter causes stress and anxiety.
- Plan ahead so you can control what is possible
See this self-care guide for mental health.
#12 Other preventative measures to keep you healthy thus less anxious:
- Avoid smoking
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Reduce sugar consumption.
These toxic substances may increase the chances of infection. They weaken the immune system. So avoiding them gives your immune system a fighting chance.
Related: Habits that make anxiety worse
#13 And add exercise to your daily self-care regiment.
Exercise is good for your mental health.
Exercise, of course, boosts all of your health.
With improved circulation, you also improve lymphatic movement so toxins can be taken out.
While it is still not quite clear how exercise improves your immune health, it is suggested that exercise may do that by :
- Raising the body temperature- you know during an infection one gets a fever. It is the same concept. The raised temperature is the body’s attempt at killing the germ.
- Exercise increases the blood flow and thus the rate at which white blood cells circulate and likely also flush bacteria and viruses out of the lungs and airway (source).
- Exercise is a great way to reduce the stress hormones that weaken the immune system.
- Exercise raises the endorphins to make you feel happier and poofs anxiety from pandemic sources or other sources of anxiety
It is a difficult time we face. With coronavirus cases increasing daily and the death toll rises across the globe and in our towns, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by helplessness and anxiety.
And it is worse if one already suffers from anxiety.
But making sure you have put in place preventative measures such as social distancing, hand washing and sanitizing while still keeping the bonds of connectedness strong to ward off loneliness, as well as healthy eating to boost your immune health, and practicing self-care, then you may feel some peace, and reduced anxiety.
These are just some ways to reduce the coronavirus induced anxiety during these very uncertain times.
Tell me how you are warding off anxiety and how you are doing right now.
Wishing you and your loved ones good health.
And if this illness has affected you or your loved ones, my heart goes out to you. I am keeping you in my prayers.
I hope that today you feel a little less anxious. I hope you smile again.
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