WHAT TO DO DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC – TIPS & ADVICE

By now, you probably know that COVID-19 is an infectious virus caused by a newly discovered type of coronavirus. Self-isolation and lockdown measures imposed to get the spread under control and ‘flatten the curve’ have made it difficult for some people to manage their health during this time. Read on to learn about a few of the things you can be doing to stay happy and healthy during COVID-19.

Are you worried about the future?

Are you feeling fearful or unsure about what’s on the horizon? You’re not alone – many people living in Australia are feeling some form of uncertainty.

We understand completely – we are all in the same boat.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer are more likely to develop severe illness. The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about this particular coronavirus; it causes and how it spreads (1).

I hope by now you know what the safety measures you should be taking, to keep the virus at bay are. Make sure you understand the difference between the myths and the truths that have bee floating around about Coronavirus.

Increasingly stringent self-isolation rules means restricting ourselves from doing the things we love and from seeing our colleagues, friends or family. But there are still health things that you can do you ensure you stay fit and healthy.

So, what can you do to look after yourself in these unprecedented times?

Self-isolation has been highly recommended and almost enforceable by law. And for many people, this uncertain time is stressful, painful and uncomfortable. The virus has not only caused a direct health impact to people who contracted the disease. But it also created a significant change in the social and financial landscape for millions of Australian residents, citizens and visitors.

Doctor David S. Jones, M.D., Ph.D. (2020) wrote in the Journal of New England that: “History suggests that we are actually at much greater risk of exaggerated fears and misplaced priorities.”

WHICH LEADS TO THE QUESTION – HOW MUCH SHOULD WE BE WORRIED ABOUT COVID-19?
As Dr Jones explained: ”SARS-CoV-2 had killed roughly 5000 people by March 12. That is a fraction of influenza’s annual toll. And while the COVID-19 epidemic has unfolded, China has probably lost 5000 people each day to ischemic heart disease (2).” Does it mean that we shouldn’t take the pandemic seriously because other diseases had inflicted a more significant death toll in the past? The answer is no, but it can provide a different perspective on the situation. Even though we are advised not to panic, it is hard not to stress when you have lost your job, need to self-isolate or deal with the fears of other people surrounding you. Incredibly, and as an accurate representation of human nature, despite the pandemic situation, there are many good news stories, and lesson’s being shared across the globe.

What can we learn during this pandemic?

1. MANAGING OUR STRESS:
Stressful times are often synonymous with increased anxiety. Let’s face it, our routine is thrown out of the window, and the restrictions can be really frustrating at times. However, there is nothing else we can do. We can’t click rewind with a magic remote, so we need to face the situation. The mix of many factors, and with the added to financial stress, family worries and an uncertain future can create a good recipe for anxiety. And we know that repetitive negative thinking, which can be prevalent in this type of situation, can lead to anxiety and depression on the long-term (3-5).

So, why not practice meditation?

Let’s be honest meditation is sometimes not easy. I’m not a master at it and am actually far away from being really consistent at the practice. Many people picture meditation like a hippie movement style from Byron Bay. However, in my simple words, it is more the act of simply breathing and focusing on the way we breathe for a few minutes. However, there is a lot of scientific research about the subject, so don’t worry, you don’t need to shave your head and become a monk to decrease your stress. By taking some time to breathe a few minutes a day can help to reduce stress and anxiety (5-7). It helps us to switch-off for an instant from the entire situation, and it can help us to see the case from a different perspective.

Like many new activities, it will take time to learn and lucky enough there are few ‘apps’ that can help you with it.

Calm

Headspace

Smiling Mind

Depending on your preferences, all those links above can offer you some free classes to start learning how to meditate.

2. ADOPTING NEW HABITS:


As mentioned in the previous article, coronavirus affects people who have significant health disorders such as hypertension, diabetes or pulmonary issues. This can be scary, knowing the virus has really affected those with existing medical conditions. And often, hypertension is associated with high alcohol consumption and bad diet (8-9), and pulmonary issues are highly related to smoking (10).

Sadly, people can overlook those little things. I’m just a “social smoker” or “I don’t smoke a lot of cigarettes compared to others” or “I only drink alcohol on the weekends” (20 standards drink over two days). So maybe it is time to have a good look at our habits today and reassess if it is worth continuing to smoke, drinking consistently and eat unhealthily. So, if you are stuck at home, why not consider adopting new changes today to ensure you have the best chance for a healthy life, now and in the future.

Food for thought:

To bring things into perspective, a packet of 20 cigarettes costs $23.86. Over a year (52 weeks), if you are smoking a pack of cigarette per week, it is a budget of $1240.72 a year. If you are drinking two cartons of beer ($46×2) per week, you are spending $4784 a year in alcohol. Consider that with just those sums, you can save $6000 and instead use it for food, bills, your health and more…So if you don’t do it for your health, do it for your bank account. I’m just an Allied Health Professional, I’m not pretending to be a financial expert. Still, I can point out that in the coming months it will be hard for many of us financially.

3. CONTINUING OR STARTING TO EXERCISE:


If you are already exercising, keep going!!! I know it is not easy as you might have been accustomed to regularly go to the local gym or boot camp. And working out at home without your friends or your coach is challenging. I won’t lie, it is a struggle to motivate myself to exercise at home. But all our local gyms are closed, and therefore, I have no choice.

If you are interested, subscribe to our email list below to receive free tips, advice, home workouts and strategies to overcome some nagging pain issues.

If you are stuck at home and you have never done ‘home workouts’ or other forms of exercise, why not start a little program now? Give us a call or send us an email – I’m more than happy to help you with it.

Sometimes exercising doesn’t need to be complicated or stressful.

Many people believe that exercise = bodybuilding. NO, IT’S NOT!!! Exercise = movement

And movement can be done slowly and calmly. Take Yoga or Pilates for an example.

On top of that, exercise is good:

  • For your immune system (11) (Which is an important system that is fighting diseases like the COVID-19)
  • Against mental health issues (12)
  • For chronic pain (13) and chronic disease (14)
  • For your heart (15) and your lungs (16) (Two elements that can be affected by the virus)
  • For health sleep routines (17)

4. LEARNING TO COOK NEW YUMMY RECIPES AND LOOK AFTER YOUR DIET:


I’ll be honest on this point, I’m not your Instagram model who is gonna do my full green juice morning recipe and advice you to eat a green salad every day. I like burgers, chips & dips, pizzas and I drink beers from time to time. I’m human after all and therefore, I’m not perfect. However, I do my best to stay healthy as much as possible.

So why do I recommend people to cook new recipes and look after their diet?

The first reason is that we are all busy working and running around. Kids, sports events, house chores, friends and family – There is so much that we can do during the week that cooking can become almost automatic. Now that some of us have some time ahead, learning new ways of cooking can make our routine more exciting.

The second reason is the price. I’ve been working in hospitality for many years before becoming an allied health professional, and I understand the cost of a meal. Of course, it is a pleasure to eat outside at a restaurant, and I love it. Living in the South West of Western Australia, we have so many beautiful restaurants, wineries and breweries. But right now, we can’t go anywhere. So, learning how to cook your own little recipes will help you save money in the long term, and every dollar counts during this unique time.

The third reason is like I’ve stated above, we are all living a busy life, and it is easy to go out for take-away or have a massive bag of Doritos on a Friday night. So learning how to rethink and enjoy nourishing food can be a good habit to adopt during this downtime. With gyms and boot camps closed, it might be a good time to check your calorie intake, as often when we are bored, we eat more. And more importantly, a proper diet can help you with your mental and physical health (18).

Why does an Osteopath talk to you about all this?

Many people have misconceptions about Osteopathy and the profession itself. As Osteopaths, we look at health from a holistic perspective. We look at the internal factors (muscles, joints, bones, organs, nerves and more) affecting your health, and we are looking at the external elements too.

What we know is that stress, anxiety and/or depression can impact your physical health (19-21), and it can be a significant factor for your pain (22-23). And in this complicated time, I thought that it would be useful to share some tips to help you with the situation.

This article does not represent medical advice or treatment about the coronavirus, COVID-19 or anxiety/depression. But general tips to help you feel a bit better during this difficult time.

If you are struggling with the pandemic situation, don’t hesitate to reach out for help:

And your local GP, counsellor, psychologist, nutritionist or psychiatrist or whoever you see for your mental and/or physical health

 

 

REFERENCES:
World Health Organisation. (2020) What is corona virus? https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1

David S. Jones, M.D., Ph.D. (2020)History in a Crisis — Lessons for Covid-19. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2004361

Peter M.McEvoy, Hunna Watson, Edward R. Watkin & Paul Nathana. (2013). The relationship between worry, rumination, and comorbidity: Evidence for repetitive negative thinking as a transdiagnostic construct. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165032713004928

Daniel E. Gustavson, Alta du Pont, Mark A. Whisman, and Akira Miyake. (2018). Evidence for Transdiagnostic Repetitive Negative Thinking and Its Association with Rumination, Worry, and Depression and Anxiety Symptoms: A Commonality Analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6370308/

Zelano, C., Jiang, H., Zhou, G., Arora, N., Schuele, S., Rosenow, J., & Gottfried, J. A. (2016). Nasal Respiration Entrains Human Limbic Oscillations and Modulates Cognitive Function. The Journal of Neuroscience, 36(49), 12448. doi:10.1523/jneurosci.2586-16.2016. https://www.jneurosci.org/content/36/49/12448

Zaccaro, A., Piarulli, A., Laurino, M., Garbella, E., Menicucci, D., Neri, B., & Gemignani, A. (2018). How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 12, 353. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6137615/

Paul Blanck, Sarah Perleth, Thomas Heidenreich, Paula Kröger, Beate Ditzen, Hinrich Bents, Johannes Mander. (2018) Effects of mindfulness exercises as stand-alone intervention on symptoms of anxiety and depression: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Behaviour Research and Therapy, Volume 102, Pages 25-35, ISSN 0005-7967, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0005796717302449

Rai Sharan K, Fung Teresa T, Lu Na, Keller Sarah F, Curhan Gary C, Choi Hyon K et al. . (2017). Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, Western diet, and risk of gout in men: prospective cohort study BMJ. The Dietary ; 357 :j1794. https://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j1794

Pazoki, R. et al. (2018) Genetic predisposition to high blood pressure and lifestyle factors: association with midlife blood pressure levels and cardiovascular events. Circulation 137, 653–661. https://doi.org/10.1161%2FCIRCULATIONAHA.117.030898

Cecilia Mouronte-Roibás, Virginia Leiro-Fernández, Alberto Fernández-Villar, Maribel Botana-Rial, Cristina Ramos-Hernández, Alberto Ruano-Ravina. (2016). COPD, emphysema and the onset of lung cancer. A systematic review, Cancer Letters, Volume 382, Issue 2,Pages 240-244, ISSN 0304-3835, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304383516305444

Nieman, D. C., & Wentz, L. M. (2019). The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system. Journal of sport and health science, 8(3), 201–217. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6523821/

Aylett E, Small N, Bower P. (2018). Exercise in the treatment of clinical anxiety in general practice – a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Health Serv Res.;18(1):559. Published 2018 Jul 16. doi:10.1186/s12913-018-3313-5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6048763/

Geneen, L. J., Moore, R. A., Clarke, C., Martin, D., Colvin, L. A., & Smith, B. H. (2017). Physical activity and exercise for chronic pain in adults: an overview of Cochrane Reviews. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 4(4), CD011279. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5461882/

Bullard, T., Ji, M., An, R. et al. (2019). A systematic review and meta-analysis of adherence to physical activity interventions among three chronic conditions: cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. BMC Public Health 19, 636. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12889-019-6877-z

Hollings M, Mavros Y, Freeston J, Fiatarone Singh M. (2017)The effect of progressive resistance training on aerobic fitness and strength in adults with coronary heart disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. European Journal of Cardiology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28578612

Luis Puente-Maestu, William W. Stringer. (2018) Physical activity to improve health: do not forget that the lungs benefit too.European Respiratory Journal, 51 (2) 1702468. https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/51/2/1702468

Kelley, G. A., & Kelley, K. S. (2017) Exercise and sleep: a systematic review of previous meta-analyses. Journal of evidence-based medicine, 10(1), 26–36. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5527334/

Henry L. Palgrave Pivot, Cham. (2020) Physical Health, Mental Health, and Nutrition. In: Experiences of Hunger and Food Insecurity in College. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-31818-5_4

Hülsebusch, J., M.I. Hasenbring, and A.C. Rusu, (2016)Understanding Pain and Depression in Back Pain: the Role of Catastrophizing, Help-/Hopelessness, and Thought Suppression as Potential Mediators. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 23(3): p. 251-259. https://europepmc.org/article/med/26590138

Shaw, W.S., et al., (2016) Psychological Distress in Acute Low Back Pain: A Review of Measurement Scales and Levels of Distress Reported in the First 2 Months After Pain Onset. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation,97(9): p. 1573-1587. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26921683

Stubbs, B., et al., (2016).The epidemiology of back pain and its relationship with depression, psychosis, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and stress sensitivity: Data from 43 low- and middle-income countries.General Hospital Psychiatry, 43: p. 63-70. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27796261

Helen Koechlin, Rachael Coakley, Neil Schechter, Christoph Werner, Joe Kossowsky, (2018)

The role of emotion regulation in chronic pain: A systematic literature review, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 107, Pages 38-45, ISSN 0022-3999, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022399917309613

Marloes M.J.G. Gerrits, Harm W.J. van Marwijk, Patricia van Oppen, Henriëtte van der Horst, Brenda W.J.H. Penninx, (2015) Longitudinal association between pain, and depression and anxiety over four years, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 78, Issue 1, Pages 64-70, ISSN 0022-3999, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022399914003791

 

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