There is no denying that the stress of living through a pandemic is having a negative impact on our collective health – and not only for people who get COVID-19. The state of constant stress under which most of us are operating — whether due to remote working woes, homeschooling, social isolation or the very real fear of us or our family members getting sick, affects our mental, physical and emotional states.
Those things, combined with around-the-clock news coverage and social media, are presenting a potentially catastrophic situation for our physiology.
And this is historically proven. There is a documented rise in cardiac disease following any major stressful historical time, including previous pandemics, likely due to massive adrenal fatigue.
I have experienced this myself. Running my practice during the financial crisis of 2008 resulted in a slew of personal health and adrenal issues. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.
The human body, for all its wonder, was not designed for constant stress. The fight-or-flight response is supposed to be a temporary reaction to meet an emergency need. But constant connectivity in a digital world leaves us accessible at all times. Work/home lines are blurred with remote working conditions, our phones or watches ding with the latest headline even when the television is off, and social media “friends” go on the attack with any disagreement.
The need for fight or flight never seems to end. This constant level of stress leads everyone toward adrenal fatigue, so much so, that it’s my starting point for patients coming in with these and certain other symptoms:
- Sleep issues
- Anxiety, depression or mood swings
- Unexplained weight gain
- New autoimmunity
- Brain fog or other cognitive impairment
We have very specific protocols for dealing with adrenal fatigue, based on individual symptoms and test results. There are certain things you can do to initiate or complement the heating process. They are many of the same functional lifestyle changes we always recommend for optimal health, but are of particular importance during high-stress times.
Diet plays an important role in stress management and stress hormone production. Cutting out simple sugars and refined carbs, processed foods and those with wheat or grain flours can do amazing things for your overall health. Limiting alcohol and eating smaller, more frequent meals helps stabilize blood sugar, which is harder to do in a stressed state.
Exercise can serve two purposes. It’s a natural stress reliever, but it also creates physical stress, from which your body transitions into recovery mode. Aim for regular movement with a mix of low-intensity and some intervals, whether HIIT or alternating the pace of your walking, running or stepping.
When you’re stressed, you may think to yourself, “just breathe,” because the process of a slow, deliberate series of deep inhales and exhales can be a calming reset. Regular breathwork — whether simply practicing intentional deep breathing techniques or going full-on meditation — can be extremely beneficial. If you’re new to breathwork, dedicated time to focus on breathing may seem silly, but deep, cleansing, rejuvenating breathing is healing. There are a variety of apps and youtube videos to explain the process and get you started.
Nutritional deficiencies not only affect stress management, they impact the body’s immune response. During this time of Covid, it’s a safe bet for anyone to add a basic B-complex regimen, as well as up your intake of Vitamin C, but it’s also important to know your vitamin D and Zinc levels. Your body can’t make either one on its own and many people are unknowingly low. Deficiencies have been directly linked to both the contracting and the severity of the virus. Other needs can be identified with simples tests for which a tailored supplementation program can be designed.
The pandemic will eventually end. At Infinity Wellness Center, we want you to come out on the other side with the most optimal health and wellness possible. Schedule an appointment if you need our support getting back to balanced.