The American Heart Association supports the idea that there is an interdependent relationship between the mind and body. This means that a person’s psychological state can have either a positive or negative effect on physical health.
This is relevant during the pandemic because the crisis is causing widespread stress and worry. Studies show that stress can suppress the proper function of the immune system. In today’s context, this means increasing people’s vulnerability to infection, especially to the coronavirus.
Stress leads to depression and anxiety, and you can recognize some symptoms as insomnia, frustration, irritability, anger, fatigue, lethargy, numbness, and body aches and pains.
Changes in Eating Patterns
According to an article from the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM), the long periods of confinement during the pandemic can lead to heightened emotional states that also trigger undesirable changes in people’s eating patterns as a natural response.
Those affected eat at irregular times of the day, snack frequently, and lean toward comfort food and junk food that have high-calorie content. This leads to unhealthy weight gain and, in individuals who are already overweight, it can lead to obesity.
At the other end of the spectrum, people who are sad and anxious can experience a loss of desire to eat and will not enjoy food, leading to inadequate nutrition.
Experts advise that if you are experiencing these symptoms, you must take control of the situation. Make the effort to steer yourself toward proper eating habits and good nutrition. This means eating meals with plenty of vegetables and fruits and limiting snacking to healthy options. Drink plenty of water and limit your alcohol intake if you cannot avoid it completely. This will also help you maintain your weight or lose unwanted pounds you gained.
There are certain changes in eating patterns, though, that are not temporary responses to stress but are long-term disorders rooted in psychological issues. You cannot cure these by yourself; the person will need professional therapy. Among the eating disorders that need treatment are binge-eating and bulimia or binge-purge behavior. Make sure that proper help is sought in these cases.
Lack of Physical Activity
Another symptom of stress is the lack of desire or motivation to take part in any physical activity, leading to a sedentary lifestyle usually spent on the couch. This is common during the pandemic as people spend more time at home. Such inactivity also contributes to weight gain.
Fortunately, physical activity is also a weapon you can use to combat stress. Regular exercise lowers the levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, thereby reducing stress. While doing so, regular exercise increases the levels of endorphins in the body, putting you in a good mood.
By reducing stress, regular exercise contributes to strengthening the immune system. It also has its own direct and immediate effect on the immune function, though, as it aids the body in detecting and fighting off disease-causing pathogens. In the long term, it helps you continue to combat infections as you age because it slows down the immune system’s rate of deterioration.
You must find enough motivation to exercise by thinking of the need to fortify your defenses against Covid-19.
The American Heart Association recommends a combination of aerobic and strength training exercises. This must include at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise spread throughout the week, and two days of muscle strength training every week.
You must keep a balance between physical activity and quiet moments. This will help manage any mental tension you are experiencing from the daily challenges of the pandemic. This does not mean slumping down on the sofa, though.
Find online resources to learn meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other similar activities that focus, calm, and clear the mind.
If you still want to lie down on the sofa, you can at least make it count. You can do deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises. Make sure the room is quiet or you are playing soothing music with nature sounds. Take deep breaths and while doing so, focus on one body part. Start on your face and tighten your facial muscles for 20 seconds before slowly releasing them. Feel how your tension is flowing away as you release. Do this on each body part, down to your feet, and you will feel relaxed afterward.
Keeping Your Mind and Body in Shape
The pandemic is attacking you not only through the virus but also through the stress and stress-related problems that it brings.
While you cannot avoid stress completely, you can take steps to manage it through regular physical exercise, mental health practices, and proper nutrition. To further protect your body, especially your lungs, you must not smoke.
Because of the connection between the mind and body, you need a holistic approach in shoring up your defenses against Covid-19. You must make sure that you are both psychologically and physically in shape during this pandemic.