Since last week, those who live in Malaysia are under the Restrictive Movement Order (RMO), also known as the Movement Control Order (MCO), which means we are stuck at home, day and night. And for the most of us, we pay close attention to news about the pandemic - how many tested positive, how many deaths, which area is affected by the virus, which country has the most deaths etc.. To make it worst are the dropping of stock markets around the globe, the lost of jobs or the near-loss of jobs for many people, the hit of profit to business owners and many more concerning factors. Being under this circumstance, if you're feeling stressed, highly anxious, or even sick about everything thats happening, you're not alone. Experts say those feelings are real and entirely valid*.
However, it's very important for us to realise how strong our mind-body connection is. Research has found that high stress and anxiety can cause severe and extensive damage to our immune systems and make us weaker*. That means, the more you worry about the virus (and its impacts), the more you suppress your immune system, the higher you put yourself at risk of getting infected. Experts explain that whenever we are presented with events that we fear of and don't know how to deal with (e.g. the pandemic), those stressors can manifest into physical symptoms, including headaches, palpitations, sweaty hands, chest tightness, body aches, insomnia, colds, and infections"*, so its important to keep your mind calm in times like this. There are plenty of research supporting this mind-body correlation, you can find some links at the end of this article for further reading.
So, here comes the biggest question - "instead of worrying, what can I or should I do?"
1. Do the necessary precautions recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO)* - avoid contact with people who are sick, wash your hands frequently, stay home and practise social distancing, don't touch eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
2. Keep your body strong - eat healthily, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, have some vitamins and supplements.
3. Do simple exercises - research has shown that 30-mins brisk walk, jog or bike ride, about 3 times a week, can help keep you calm and healthy during these uncertain times. If you're stuck at home, you can easily find videos on Youtube to follow for exercises like yoga*, zumba, HIIT (high intensity interval training) and many more.
4. Keep your mind strong - practise self-hypnosis, meditation*, focus your attention on positive aspects (something you are grateful for perhaps), read books or watch videos that makes your laugh, feel lighter, happier, and most importantly, tell yourself that you'll get through this!
5. Let go of the negative thoughts and feelings - talk to someone if you are stressed out, whether its your family member, your partner, your friend, or even a stranger online. Write them down on a piece of paper and at the end throw the paper away and say goodbye to those negative thoughts. Do deep breathing exercises to relax and be present.
And if you personally know anyone who works at the frontline in helping the disease, give them mental support and lots of verbal encouragement, because their risk of catching the disease, getting highly stressed, and chances of developing mental health illnesses like depression and anxiety are the highest*.
Lastly, if you need help to release the stress and anxiety feelings you're experiencing, do reach out to me at https://wa.me/601118585792 to book an online therapy. I'm giving out 20% discount this month to help you and your loved ones get through this difficult time. Stay safe, everyone!
*Additional info to read about how stress during this time affects our immune system:
*Research on how chronic stress leads to higher risk of disease:
*Advise by the WHO on COVID-19 preventive measures:
*How exercise can help during this pandemic:
*Immediate and sustained psychological impacts to health care workers: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/070674370705200406