Dealing with anxiety, mental health during COVID-19

It seems like there’s a new development every day regarding the 2019 novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The evolving situation can cause anxiety and stress, and it’s important to protect your mental health during the uncertainty.

By now you have adjusted to staying at home, wearing a mask, and sanitizing. If you have not then you probably test Covid19 positive if you can even get a test.

One of the issues that create anxiety and can affect mental health is uncertainty, about when it will end, about do you have Covid19, and even about what covid19 (coronavirus (SARS 2019) The illness goes by a number of names creating more confusion.  Confusion is a bad mindset, and the politicians create even more of the same with Presidents, Governors, and local politicians contradicting opinions. Most people take with a grain of salt what political leaders say about Covid. Political leaders seem to ignore and even contradict scientific opinions from noted authorities in public health such as the CDC and NIH.

COVID-19 can cause anxiety and stress. Psychiatrist says it’s important to protect your mental health during the uncertainty.

Nutrition, exercise, and wellness routines become even more important. Our normal physical activity is disrupted by the very nature of having to isolate and stay home. Our favorite sports, golf, tennis, gyms, yoga, and even hiking have been placed on hold. Beaches and boating have been effected. It's a good time to learn how to eat healthily and cook at home. 

David J. Puder, MD, medical director of the MEND program at the Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center (BMC), says the news can increase a person’s fear of a topic. “It can make it feel like it’s happening right outside their front door,” he says. “I don’t believe minimizing the virus is good preparation, but it’s important to keep things in perspective.

Loma Linda University is best known for its Nutrition and Wellness programs. Loma Linda University was a center for excellence long before wellness programs became popular. I was a clinical professor at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine. Many of the residents of the community lived active lives well into their nineties and beyond. I never saw an obese person on the campus.  They did not smoke, drink alcohol, and even avoided caffeinated beverages. Most of these people were taught by parents how to lead balanced lives.  Perhaps you did not have that advantage, however, it is never too late to reverse the poor lifestyle choices you have made in the past.

The Covid19 pandemic is a good time to evaluate your life and is an opportune time to study and implement healthy living as part of your life. Look forward to a new life and remain positive.

Take a break from the news
While it may feel important to know everything that’s going on, the damage from this might outweigh the good. Try scheduling times in your day where you take a break from the news. “This can be helpful for those of us who are empathic and deeply feel for the stories we are hearing,” Puder says.

Log out of social media
When you’re physically distanced from your friends, family or co-workers, you can be tempted to spend a lot of your day on social media, but this can quickly become overwhelming. “When we see other people’s worst-case scenarios, it can create the same type of stress in us,” Puder says. “We can be aware without letting it consume us.” Staying connected is important, but Puder warns against using social media as our source of information.

Getting out to exercise is more important than ever during stressful times. Fresh air and physical activity are good for both your mental health and physical well-being. “We store stress in our bodies, so it’s essential to stay active to release all that stress,” he says. “Get your blood flowing and receive the positive benefits of moving around a bit.” If you’re not comfortable going out, it’s easy to find workout videos you can follow along at home.

Practice deep breathing
Breathing may feel basic, but deep breaths can be important in both getting oxygen to the brain and in calming the body. “You can find video tutorials online that show you how to use breathing to bring your body and mind back into a myelinated parasympathetic state — that rest and relaxation state,” Puder says.

Eat healthily
Eat as healthy as you can while you’re isolated. This is especially important if you have limited ability to go outside or be as physically active as you’re used to. “It feels like some people are hoarding for a six-month ordeal,” Puder says. “But it’s important to keep fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet — both for your mind and your body.”

Connect with others
It’s important to stay connected to your loved ones, especially when you’re feeling like you’re missing a connection with the people you value. “Call people, text them, stay involved in what’s going on with them,” Puder says. “Stay in contact with people who make you happy.”

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