Monica Gangwani, Country Service Line Leader, Ipsos Healthcare, India, hands out interesting tips on World Health Day 2020
The COVID 19 pandemic has united the world in its collective suffering and pain. As Governments and the healthcare industry across the world struggle to contain and fight the deadly Corona Virus, we share the responsibility of looking after our own health and well-being and those of people around us.
It is normal in these circumstances to feel anxious and stressed. Regular media updates engulfing us with news about the Corona spread, do not help matters. It is difficult to keep your sanity and emotions in check with all the doom and gloom scenarios predicted. So how do we ensure that we are not overwhelmed by the stress and present a strong face to this life-threatening challenge?
Studies in Psychoneuro-immunology (PNI) have shown that there is a correlation between state of mind and state of physical health. Stress therefore affects our health/ wellbeing and immunity acts as the pivot to balance the two. Chronic stress, lasting for weeks and months, can have an immunosuppressive effect, which is one of the risk factors leading to mortality in COVID 19 patients. Our endocrine and immune systems are interconnected, so disruption in one creates an impact on the other. Stress, be it physical, mental or emotional pushes our endocrine system to release hormones to help safeguard our health, but not if stress continues for long. In the long term, it acts against our immune system reducing the white blood cells count thus weakening its defence against infections. Hence it is imperative to reduce stress as much as possible!
On this World Health day, here are some reminders on how we can manage our stress and boost our own immunity to fight this powerful virus even as scientists the world-over are working hard to find a cure/ vaccine:
Managing physical stress
- Regular yoga/ exercise (customised to ‘stay at home’/quarantine; DIY tutorials that can be found on the internet), breathing techniques (pranayama etc that help build lung power).
- Healthy diet and nutrition (antioxidants, Vitamin C and mineral foods rich, warm water in copious quantities).
- Rest and relaxation (listening to music; 7-8 hours of sleep for optimum muscle and cell repair), and
- Self-discipline (create a routine; avoid TV binge watching; reduce mobile screen usage, especially after 9pm)
- Manage your emotions through creative self- expression. There has been a surge of creativity in these “lock down” times with people discovering / re discovering their talents in music, cooking, creating videos, visual art etc.
- Practice Gratitude, meditation and mindfulness exercises.
- Reskilling yourself through various online course also helps provide an outlet for personal development and stress mitigation.
- Break social distancing barriers through zoom/skype calls and connect with family and friends.
- Laugh often and stay in a happy mood spending time with children playing games and teaching them life skills (no better opportunity than this!)
- Reach out to counsellors and mental health professionals in case you need advice or just someone to speak to. Doctors are also easily accessible to consult online.
A powerful way of reducing your own stress is helping others deal with stress. Having ears open to listening; a heart filled with compassion (supporting Corona warriors, contributing to charity) and hands willing to help (community volunteering efforts); can go a long way in filling yourself and others with hope and positivity.