I am not sure there is anyone out there that is not feeling a combination of stress, fear and anxiety. As I have discussed previously, fear of the “unknown” is much worse than fear of the known. In the case of Covid-19, there is simply too much “unknown” to provide any of us any real comfort. We are all worried/stressed about our/family’s health, the financial ramifications of what is occurring and basically when/whether we will return to “normal”.
Anxiety/stress may result in a number of physiological changes that may worsen health. The release of the “fight or flight” hormones raises blood pressure and pulse. For people with hypertension, abnormal heart rhythms or other cardiac conditions, this is detrimental. The release of cortisol can alter blood sugar readings worsening diabetes control. Poor sleep further impacts negatively on our health. Additionally, stress eating of high carb foods will negatively impact on our weight control.
Here are some tips as to how to manage the stress and anxiety as best as possible as most people are home much more now:
- Limit the amount of news-watching, perhaps only allowing for a one-time-a day viewing to provide the daily updates needed to stay current. Incessant/constant watching of the news will most definitely add to your stress/anxiety and not really provide you with any “actionable” recommendations that will help you/your family.
- GET OUTSIDE FOR WALKS/BIKE RIDES/JOGS: Being cooped up in a house will drive anyone into a heightened anxiety state. Seeing the sun and breathing fresh air provides a calming environment.
- Ensure a good amount on in-home exercise, yoga, meditation and/or any other modality of stress reduction.
- Get out that Phase 1 modified SP Plan and try to follow this closely. Getting on the scale in the morning and seeing a lower number than the previous day provides on less thing to stress about, i.e. your weight.
- Try to watch shows/movies that are positive and will make you laugh as opposed to Zombie Apocalypse or other negative movies that will frighten/stress you.
Although medication to calm/relax people are often viewed as “dangerous” such as Valium, Xanax, Clonepin, Ambien, Lunesta etc, I have practiced medicine long enough to tell you that often the short term benefits of these meds are much higher than the risks. If any of these meds can help people sleep, slow their pounding hearts down and allows them to maintain a much calmer nature, then their short term usage is well worth some of potential side effects.
Two more issues:
- If anyone out there is experiencing anxiety symptoms that you are having difficulty coping with, let’s set up a telemedicine visit with me and perhaps I can prescribe something that in the short term, can help you
- PLEASE share your recommendations about how YOU cope with anxiety/stress that I could compile and send to all of our wonderful patients to try. email@example.com
To all: Hang in there…I have zero doubt that “normalcy” will return at some point. We must all stay as healthy as possible so that we can be around for many, many more years of “normalcy”.