Things have been rapidly changing here in Maine over the past week, and with new information come new thoughts and ideas for keeping yourself physically and mentally healthy. I promise to keep offering information and insights as we see this thing through. You are not alone, even if you might feel that way.
I want you to promise me something as well.
If you are feeling isolated, lonely, confused or afraid, please reach out to someone. I am available for telephone consultations, I’ll be offering Facebook Live Q&A’s and other ways for you to connect with me in the coming days. I can answer your questions and walk you through some important ways to keep yourself healthy and strong.
I’m here for you, in whatever way you need. I’m going to help you prepare yourself to take care of your body, your mind, and your spirit. I’m going to offer ideas on keeping your immune system strong so your body can protect itself against all illnesses. I’m going to remind you to breathe, to take time to find clarity, to focus on the positive, not the fear.
It’s hard to even know what to feel right now, isn’t it? One minute, everything seems fine and the next you’re holding back tears. Here’s what I want to be sure you know: that is completely normal. You are processing a lot right now. It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to be scared. But it’s NOT okay to give up.
A little kindness goes a long way
Now, more than ever before, respond to those around you with kindness. Remember that you can’t see what’s happening inside. You could be talking to a single mother who has no idea where her children’s next meal will come from. Or someone with a parent in assisted living who can no longer go and visit, even though they know they were the only source of comfort in that parent’s lonely life. You may be talking to a health care worker who would like nothing better to shelter in place, but instead heads out every day to help heal the sick and save lives. You just never know.
I’m encouraged by the stories of kindness I have been hearing in recent days. For example, I told someone I had COVID-19 tests but couldn’t use them because I had none of the required PPE (personal protective equipment). This person connected me to her father, who had a few to share. Then she told me a story from earlier that day: her father had been in the parking lot at a big box store, and saw a woman hysterically crying in her car. He stopped to ask why, and she said that she’d come for baby wipes and formula for her twins, but the store had neither. She was completely overwhelmed and had no idea what to do. He gave her some wipes that he happened to have in his car, and then he went a step further. He got on the phone, calling around to several stores until he found one that had some formula. Somehow, he convinced the person on the other end to hold some for this woman. What a difference he made in her day!
We can all do things like that. Shop for an elderly neighbor who is afraid to leave the house, or a friend whose immunity is compromised. Reach out on Skype, Zoom or Google Hangouts to stay connected with friends and family you can’t visit right now. Smile at the person walking their dog on the opposite side of the street. Purchase a gift card from the local coffee shop so they’ll still be there when all of this is over.
In The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls wrote, “Sometimes you need a little crisis to get your adrenaline flowing and help realize your potential.” Now is absolutely the time to recognize the potential for big change – both personal and societal. But let’s talk about that adrenaline.
Supporting your adrenals is crucial right now
Adrenaline is great – in small doses. But the kind of panic and fear people are feeling right now could lead to prolonged stress on the adrenal glands, where adrenaline is produced. This stress can cause great imbalances in cortisol and leave you feeling utterly exhausted. And when that happens, your immune system is at great risk. This is a time when you want your immune system functioning at peak potential, so you must find ways to calm your system down.
So how can you do that? Here’s a couple of suggestions:
- Supplement with key nutrients. My adrenal support or adrenal metabolism programs could be just what you need to be sure your body is getting what it needs at this crucial time.
- Stop watching the news. I’m not suggesting you bury your head in the sand. Sure, you want to know the latest recommendations and be informed about what’s going on in the world. But a constant barrage of fear-inducing statistics isn’t what you need right now. Being constantly scared won’t change anything – except your health (and not in a positive way).
- Practice gratitude. Just making a list of three things you are grateful for each day can shift your perspective.
A recap of what we know about COVID-19
My personal goal right now is to restore a sense of calm and peace to your life. I want to help you understand, as best you can, amid the conflicting information that you see in the media (it’s almost worse than the confusing information you get about dieting, isn’t it?).
So here are a few things we know:
- 85% of people who contract COVID-19 get better. It’s not an automatic death sentence, particularly if you are healthy to begin with.
- Anyone with comorbidity factors – heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease, etc. are at much higher risk of developing serious complications from this virus.
- Children under 9 are not getting critically ill. Isn’t this one interesting? Why is that? One big reason is that children have a lot of melatonin in their systems. Parents are often vigilant about making sure their children get enough sleep – and that means their melatonin levels don’t dip too far.
Do’s and Dont’s of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic
Everyone has advice about what to do – and what not to do – right now. It’s hard to know what to believe. Here’s my rule of thumb – if something sounds far fetched (like holding your breath to see if you have the virus) it probably isn’t useful. My advice relies on common sense and science. Taking what we know about the pandemic, what do I think will be the most useful information for you right now? Below are a few things to do – and a few things to avoid.
- Practice social distancing whenever possible. Get your groceries, pick up your medications, go to work if you need to, but now is not the time to gather for dinner parties or social dances (as much as it pains me to say so)! Find creative ways to “get together” instead. Have teatime with a friend via Zoom. Find a live fitness class to share with others.
- Pay it forward when you can. Give a local business a boost. Shop for someone else. Buy a meal for a family in need.
- Supplement as needed. Take a high-quality multivitamin. Be sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D. Take a sleep support supplement that includes melatonin to be sure you’re getting the essential sleep necessary for a healthy immune system.
- Find support wherever you can. There are people out here ready to help. I’m putting up an online Adrenal support program soon that will offer slides, guided meditations, recipes and more to help you support yourself through this stressful period.
- Pay attention to the little things. Wear gloves when you pump gas and wipe your card down after using it. Avoid touching surfaces out in public. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face.
- Take copious amounts of Vitamin C unless you are really sick. A multivitamin or targeted adrenal support will serve you much better. You do need Vitamin C, but not 10,000 mg per day!
- Keep the TV on 24/7.
- Isolate yourself socially. Physical distance is important – but so is social connection! Stay in touch with friends – online, on the phone, even neighborhood sing-alongs out the window or from your front porch can boost your spirits and remind you that you aren’t alone.
- Hoard supplies.We’re all in this together – let’s be sure everyone has what they need.
Remember, this is a moment in history, and it won’t last forever. No, we don’t really know how long we need to keep our distance yet, but as long as it may seem, we will get through it. Take advantage of the time you’ve been given to get projects you’ve been thinking about for years finally completed.
Take this story for example: I have a patient who has struggled with adrenal imbalance for a long time. Her job was in an extremely high stress environment, and she just couldn’t seem to do what she needed to heal herself. Now she’s at home, not by choice, but here’s the amazing thing – her adrenal issues are getting better! She needed time to reset. This was the circumstance she needed to improve her adrenal health and her body is telling her. Now she’s more excited than ever to make long lasting choices to keep her health and stress levels where they are now.
Turn this crisis into an opportunity for yourself. Now is the perfect time to slow down, get more sleep, exercise more and eat right.
Read my article on Navigating COVID-19 safely and in good health.
Read my article on Calming the Panic with essential info on COVID-19 for easing fears.
Reviewed by Dr. Mark Menolascino, MD