Covid-19! How many times have you seen this name this week alone? Everyday more and more aspects of our lives are changing because of this horrible virus and as we all know, us humans hate change. If the recent changes aren’t enough to stress you out, then the likelihood of catching a virus that caused an entire pandemic just might. But can one lead to the other?
The Immune System literally functions as your body’s operating system. Stress can negatively affect our immune system by both our external and internal changes. Looking internally, we see that stress is simply our body’s response to danger, which triggers chemical reactions such as releasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol (generally preparing us for fight or flight). Cortisol causes our lymphocytes levels to drop. Lymphocytes or leukocytes are one of the white blood cells which allows vertebrates, such as ourselves, to fight off infections. Adrenaline may also increase risks of ulcers as stress hormones inhibit digestion, and later causes an increase.
Furthermore, what we put from the external environment, into our bodies, will also affect how it can fight off the virus. For example, did you panic buy a lot of pasta? Do you have a lot of frozen dinners to save dinnertime? Well this may cost you in the long run. While fruits and vegetables may not last long during quarantine, they are necessary immune boosters. And just putting in the good stuff doesn’t work, you have to not put in the bad ones. That is to say, how you deal with your stress. Coping with stress differs for everyone, and while it is ok to drink a glass of wine to take the edge off, increased drinking, or even eating, during stressful times can lead to health problems and even addiction later on.
So how can we run away from all these problems while under lockdown? Well firstly, we need to acknowledge our stressors and try to solve them logically. Set limits on things like work or the kids and try to use a schedule similar to one pre-lockdown. This also includes sleeping. Try to regulate your sleep schedule (and yes you are encouraged to take your traffic hours and sleep in). Also remember to get some physical activity in (30 minutes to an hour) where you sweat a little. Again, routines are encouraged.
Finally, don’t neglect your social circle. Chances are many of us are having similar stressors right now as we are all in the same boat. Reach out to a friend and decompress, or, if you’re your own best friend, start a journal. A log of your days under quarantine perhaps. Our “don’t “s to reduce stress include not consuming unhealthy substances (food or otherwise) And don’t go on social media too much. While we encourage you to be informed, information overload (and increasing fake news) can cause unnecessary stress.
But everyone is different! So in case these don’t work for you, try your own personal outlets for stress like practicing your favorite hobby or applications for motivation or meditation. Relax. Be safe. Don`t stress.