While some restrictions are being eased, it’s clear COVID-19 will still be part of our reality for the foreseeable future. And while some may look forward to an efficacious drug or vaccine in the months to come, we work from the perspective of prevention, our family is not going to spend the next I-don’t-know-how-many-months fearing COVID or waiting for a vaccine.
Our greatest defense against COVID-19 is our health.
In this 5 part series, we will uncover what we are doing in our home with our family and what we are discussing with our patients to ensure our immune systems stay strong. We will answer the question:
How do we live with COVID, without the looming underlying fear and anxiety plaguing our everyday lives and wellness?
Ben and I work in preventative care, which works from a different paradigm than our conventional medical system. Our conventional system is great at ‘sick care’; taking care of patients with medications that help alleviate symptoms.
We work backwards from that paradigm, hoping to prevent sickness and/or find the root cause of sickness. We view symptoms as a sign of dysfunction and we work to find the source of dysfunction to prevent surgery or other costly treatments.
The body has an innate ability to seek homeostasis, equilibrium, and when it can’t do it on its own, we give it some extra attention to eliminate the symptoms and remedy the dysfunction before it becomes problematic.
So with our preventative care paradigm in mind, here is what our family is doing every day to keep in control of our health, despite COVID-19.
Turn off the 24 hour news cycle and social media
This is a tough one. Ben and I pride ourselves on being well educated and informed. But the news media, whichever medium you subscribe to, excels at fostering fear and anxiety. And the stress this incites weakens our immunity.
Choose a couple of favorite, trusted resources, and turn the rest off. The 24 hour news cycle and targeted social media algorithms are keeping us in a constant state of “fight or flight.”
We all have stress, but how we interpret and assign meaning to that stress can make or break our bodies. Stress can show up in the form of emotional/mental, physiological (e.g. inflammation and/or disease) or environmental (e.g. chemicals in and around our bodies and food). Our lives pre-COVID lives likely had us regularly in a state of “fight or flight” too; rushing to get to the next ‘thing,’ stuck in traffic, stresses at work, school, kids, family, relationships, poor diet choices, chemical exposures. And our bodies can not decipher between a lion chasing us or the stress caused by our favorite team losing a high stakes game. While perspective plays an important role in how we interpret our stresses, too many people we speak with have traded their pre-COVID stresses with the 24/7 news cycle.
While there may be some great reporting, we have to maintain our critical faculties while watching, listening, and reading the news, which is difficult when we get stuck in the fear and anxiety loop. Newspapers, news stations and social media still have ad space to sell, and the greater the hook (fear), the more likely people tune-in (and businesses invest in ad space).
Stress produces the hormone cortisol, a life sustaining adrenal hormone that is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body. It regulates and controls things like blood glucose levels; metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates; strengthening immune response; anti-inflammatory actions… But too much cortisol can have the opposite effects: increased blood sugar, hunger and cravings, weakened immunity, leaky gut, metabolic dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, depression, anxiety, insomnia, mood imbalances, cardiovascular disease.
This chronic state of fear and stress has our sympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for our innate “flight or fight” response, working overtime with the fear that we will contract the virus. But it’s important we keep things in perspective. For example, there are approximately 40 million Californians, and while the number of those infected by COVID keep increasing we also have to keep in mind that California just started ramping up testing, when previously testing wasn’t as widely available. Approximately 4,000 Californians have died from COVID (as of May 26, 2020), that’s less than .2%, and yes, every life is precious and yes we should take every precaution, but keeping things in perspective is important for us to keep healthy and sane.
COVID-19 is most devastating to those with pre-existing conditions and immunosuppressed. So if you fall into these categories, you too can improve your health. Our greatest defense is our health. (Read more here for other ways to support your immunity.)
And if we’re going to be living with this virus for the next 18 + months, then we have to find ways to cohabitate with it that doesn’t have us in a constant state of “fight or flight”. This stress response weakens our immune defenses.
So take a deep breath. And we’ll talk more next week about how powerful that breath is in boosting your immunity too.
In Good Health,
Dr. Ben and Allyson
Ben and Allyson are parents, practitioners of wellness and mindfulness, fitness aficionados, and foodies.
And together Ben and Allyson are revolutionizing wellness through Our New Life Revolution, teaching others to take back their life and their health!