I don’t know about you, but I have cabin fever! I actually go to the grocery store way more than usual (and yes, they’re getting way too much of my money) just to get steps and fresh produce and be around other people. What I wouldn’t do for a nice relaxing cup of coffee inside a coffeehouse or a lunch/dinner at a lovely restaurant, being waited on. Dream on…at least for a while longer!
Of course, we are not stuck indoors 24/7. We can walk outside and go to some stores still open or some open restaurants doing drive-through and/or take-out. We can talk to people on our computers and see each other using programs like Skype or Zoom or Facetime, etc. We can text and email. I know – it’s a poor substitute for actually being physically close, but it is an option that we should not forget about.
Still, some negative feelings can emerge, like being overly obsessed with getting coronavirus and having a fear of dying from it. (After all, all the evidence on this virus is not all in yet, the vast majority of people are recovering, if they get it at all, and we know that people with compromised immune systems sometimes pass away, not from the actual virus, but from pneumonia, a common complication…just like what happens with the flu strains that visit us every year! In fact, a 95-year-old woman living in Italy recently recovered from the coronavirus!)
Panic is a common reaction to people who are just getting information from what comes on television and across the internet. That can result in anxiety, sadness, being numb, not sleeping well, being angry, perhaps developing some post-traumatic stress symptoms, getting depressed, feeling just low, feeling stressed out to the max, being irritable, and being emotionally and then physically exhausted. That’s just the reaction to this virus pandemic – what about all the other things in life that happen when there is no pandemic?! Due to the increased stress during these turbulent times, some people are turning to substance use to relieve this negative mass of feelings…not so healthy.
So, the important question is really how do you cope with stress? If you don’t do this well, you will likely be developing internally some mental health symptoms which may rise to the level of a clinical diagnosis, like major depression or generalized anxiety. So, let’s consider how to turn this around to something more positive to keep our sanity at least till life returns to normal.
Always ask yourself, is my glass half full or half empty. What do you have going on in your life that is positive? You’re still alive. Do you have children and other family? Do you have some really good friends? Are they a blessing to you? Do you like to be in nature? There are no real restrictions to being in the country as far as I know, so perhaps you can take a walk or ride to a natural, less populated area and walk or sit and contemplate for a while. Calm yourself down. Do you like music but don’t always get enough time to listen? Play some more now, especially the kind that really makes you feel upbeat and otherwise good! Do you like yoga or meditation? This is a fine opportunity to center yourself and calm down. (There are free meditation apps available.) There is an abundance of clinical evidence that shows mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation are actually healthy for the mind and body. What is good for the body is also good for the mind, especially emotions! There are still many opportunities to volunteer, and research has also shown that helping others is good for our own hearts and souls.
Here are a few tips to help: 1) if you feel you need therapy, teletherapy is becoming increasingly available; 2) make a list of things/people/places you are grateful for; 3) increase or start mindfulness practices, like yoga, meditation, Bible study, etc.; 4) take nice relaxing hot baths (using bubbles and/or salt, for example); 5) aside from walking, do some exercise videos, lift weights, etc., 6) journal if that is something that helps you reflect; and 7) if I haven’t said it enough yet, focus on all the positive aspects in your life!
As always, focus on the fact that we still have access to healthy food, so make sure you eat much less of the junk food, fast food, processed food, and instead fill our plates with fresh, raw and lightly steamed veggies, fruit, healthy sources of protein, etc. Yes, diet is probably one of the most powerful tools we have to fight off negative emotions while it also makes our bodies and spirits/souls healthier. Some well-placed supplements, like Vitamin C and zinc and others containing antioxidants for some extra protection from viruses, are always a good idea. They all work together toward helping us stay healthy, ramping up our immune system function, and making us in a better mood and more resilient.
Don’t panic – this, too, shall pass, like all our other environmentally related challenges faced in recent and past times.
For more information about Living Healthy Holistically, click to view our comprehensive course that is sure to help during this time.
Have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Dr. Donna Poppendieck (Dr. P) has over 30 years of experience in the mental health care field. She is a seasoned college professor and instructor for providers. She uses credible, proven holistic health strategies in instruction for parents of children with mental health challenges looking for another approach as well as healthcare providers seeking to implement or understand holistic strategies.