How to Cope with Stress Amidst a Pandemic

Dear CCWM Family:
 
The outbreak of COVID-19 is surely stressful for people. While we react to stress differently, fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. While not necessarily easy to wrap your head around it at this moment, coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
 
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in. 
 
CDC data tell us that:
 
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:
  • Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19
  • Children and teens
  • People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders
  • People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use
 
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or illicit drugs
 
People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms.
 
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. You can stay informed by “checking in” with a reputable source like CDC website or your favorite TV news program twice a day. 
  • Share accurate information about COVID-19 and that can help you and people important to you feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.
  • Take care of your mind and body. Do breathing exercises we discussed before at least twice daily for 5 minutes or whenever you feel overwhelmed. Get up and away from your computer at least every couple of hours and stretch. Learn to meditate.
 
  • Eat healthy, mostly whole foods plant based diet with clean animal protein if you so choose (wild caught fish, omega-3 fatty acids are great for your brain, or organic chicken or grass-fed beef). Drink plenty of clean water (half of your body weight in pounds = ounces of water).  
  • Exercise even if you are not leaving your home (see our previous recommendations).   
  • Get 7-8 hrs of quality sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs. And here I also mean marijuana, although many think it is calming, its regular use, much like alcohol, is likely going to result in habituation.
  • Make time to unwind. Engage in some activities you enjoy but may normally not have enough time to participate in. Discover the pleasure of reading a book or listening to music. Take a bath using some essential oils (lavender is great) instead of a rushed shower.
  • Pick up a new activity such as learning a foreign language or playing a musical instrument. Very helpful for engaging the mind and keeping it agile and widely available through online sources.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. Reinvent the joy of a phone call or video chat instead of texting.
  • Find an activity that makes you laugh. Laughter strengthens your immune system and makes you feel well. Watch a funny movie.
  • Children and teens often react to what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. 
  • Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about the pandemic in a way that your child or teen can understand.
 
  • Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
  • Reach out to elderly parents, grandparents or friends and neighbors who may feel isolated and help them recognize the difference between being alone and being lonely. Hearing from their loved ones daily or even more often makes them feel safe and socially engaged.
  • For all of you who would be observing the activities of Holy Week or Passover starting next week, the shelter in place order has brought about profound change in practicing your faith. Many churches and synagogues have provided their members with alternative virtual ways to worship and you should take advantage of those arrangements. Those of you who've never seriously thought about spiritual practices might find solace in exploring virtual faith fellowships offered by a number of non denominational congregations.
  • Some of you will find all of this so profoundly overwhelming that even the best intentions of following our recommendations will leave you continuously anxious, experiencing a number of somatic complaints (headaches, increased or decreased appetite, inability to concentrate, sleeplessness, irritability, agitation, body aches, upset stomach). We urge you to call us if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
 
 
Furthermore, here are some of our simple, natural remedies to help with focus, concentration, mood, sleep and anxiety. You can also download this list to share with a friend!
 
 
O-Tropin® - Certain amino acids and vitamins are provided in our formula to support healthy sleep, restoration, and normal pituitary function.
 
 
Vitamin D3/K 5000 IU per day assists in immune support and has been proven to be anti viral.
 
 
L-Theanine - may be used in addition to Melatonin and O-Tropin® to enhance both falling asleep and staying asleep and can also be used by itself throughout the day to remain calm when we feel anxious.
 
 
Mag Glycinate or MetaRelax will help muscles relax and are helpful at bedtime to support relaxed sleep.
 
 
 
 
Serenagen - an herbal stress reduction formula based on Traditional Chinese Medicine
 
 
Ceralin Forte - Powerful B vitamins and NAC help with concentration, energy and focus.
 
 
 
OmegaGenics EPA-DHA 1000 - A great anti-inflammatory and support of brain, health and bone health.
 
 
 
Don’t forget the baseline nutritional support we talked about last week to keep your overall well-being in check!
 
 
IN CLOSING
There is no magic bullet. There are only the right behaviors which will mitigate this crisis.  We strongly urge you to practice those behaviors, as they are truly life saving.  We think of you daily and pray for your continued safety and well-being.
 
All my best,
Dr. Vesna Skul
Author
Dr. Vesna Skul Dr. Skul is a graduate of Rush Medical College in Chicago, is a board-certified specialist in Internal Medicine, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Rush University. She is also fellowship-trained and board-certified in anti-aging and regenerative medicine. Her career has been devoted to caring for women in all phases of their lives.

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