April 17th, 2020
Co-authored by Dr. Holly Holmes-Meredith and Bill Yarborough.
Have you found yourself consumed with the latest news on the coronavirus and its economic impact? Are you experiencing such symptoms as sleepiness, forgetfulness, a short-temper, binge-eating, and a feeling of being overwhelmed? Health experts say if anxiety and fear carry on for too long, it can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to the very virus you want to avoid. The Biology of Belief author Bruce Lipton in a recent interview explained that with chronic fear “we are shutting down the maintenance of the body, which opens us up to infections and inflammations.”
That’s not to say you should ignore the news. It’s important to keep up with media reports of the evolving pandemic and follow the safety recommendations and requirements of your local, state, and national health agencies. Clearly, you don’t want to infect yourself with COVID-19—or infect others—and you want to know what to do if you feel symptoms. But excessive panic, like the virus, can be contagious.
So it’s important to maintain your emotional health when hearing scary reports that could impact you and your loved ones. In this article we provide some tips to lower your stress level and boost your immune system in various areas of your life, including behavioral, environmental, mental and emotional, and spiritual.
One key behavioral step to strengthen your immune system is to avoid bad sleep habits. If you watch the news along with having coffee and caffeine just before bedtime, it may not be conducive to restorative sleep. Likewise, anxiety triggered binge-eating, particularly of sugar and carbs, or excessive alcohol consumption can weaken your immune system. Changing such behaviors is not always easy, but there are helpful tools such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) that could help you address the anxieties underlying your behaviors. EFT involves tapping on body pressure points to get release from negative emotions. It’s an easy method to learn, and there are many sites on the internet that demonstrate its use. We’ll highlight additional techniques below.
The coronavirus may also have had a significant impact on your daily environment. You could be more isolated now or suddenly have begun working from home alongside your school-aged kids. So, if you’re suffering from cabin fever, worrying about your job, or need to escape the household hubbub, consider spending some time outdoors. According to health experts, a walk in nature, a nearby park, or even in your neighborhood shouldn’t present risks if you practice social distancing. Sunlight can strengthen your immune system and time away in calming surroundings can give you resiliency. Other techniques that can provide relief from environmental stress include listening to peaceful music, exercising and/or stretching, or just finding a quiet place to regenerate.
On the mental and emotional front, it’s important to balance the negativity of pandemic news with positive feelings and thoughts. After watching the latest coronavirus updates, it might be good to switch channels and watch comedies or uplifting movies and TV shows. If your thoughts stay stuck in negativity, read an inspirational book or engage in creative activities, such as completing a jigsaw puzzle, gardening, cooking, or engaging in artistic pursuits, such as painting, writing, or quilting.
A daily practice of gratitude may also help. At bedtime, review the events of the day that brought you joy, no matter how small. Our minds are geared to watch out for threats, but with practice, we can train our minds to notice joyful moments as well. And if you’re feeling isolated, reframe it. Try to view it as a positive retreat to refresh and reinvigorate yourself through trying out something new—or a time to get all those chores done.
Spiritual rituals in your life can help you connect to something greater by prayer, watching church services, or reading religious and sacred works. Practices such as meditation, yoga, and mindfulness can help boost your immune system and have a powerful revitalizing impact when you need it most. There are countless stories of individuals who rose above hardships when connecting with a power greater than themselves.
We are all unique and may need different strategies and paths to cope with the current times. We’ve provided examples here, but there are many other possibilities. And, if you find yourself compulsively obsessing beyond what you can handle, consider professional help. A professional practitioner can use hypnotherapy, teach self-hypnosis, EFT, and other healing modalities to help guide you through tough times. Teaching professionals often have interns who charge minimal amounts and you can work with them through facetime and other venues without an office visit.
We look forward to discussing further emotional health issues in future columns. If you have questions, please reach out to us via the contact information on our websites: Holly at www.hypnothearpytraining.com or Bill at his contact page.
By Dr. Holly Holmes-Meredith, D. Min., MFT, Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Bill Yarborough, CHT and Certified EFT Practitioner.
Below is the link to the April Diablo Gazette. Our Emotional Health column is on page 14.