Could reducing stress be the key to beating COVID-19?

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, many Australians were already juggling many stresses. But did you know that increased stress could be jeopardizing your well-being and your body’s natural ability to fight off illnesses.

Our minds are not detached from our bodies, and the immune system acts like border security, patrolling cells that are foreign and harmful to it.

The bodies natural response to stress is the fight or flight, mode which creates the hormones adrenalin and cortisol.  Heightened levels of these hormones in the bloodstream can weaken your immune system and increase your susceptibility to colds, viruses and other health issues.

So, it is important to find ways of keeping your stress levels down. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, of course: The more you stress about the virus, the more likely you are to suffer from it.

Here are a few strategies to help lower your stress levels which will help keep your immune system strong.

Share these suggestions with friends and family who might be struggling to stay relaxed.

Stay connected

Keep in touch with friends and family. Social interaction is a basic human need and has the potential to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Self-quarantine and social distancing don’t mean you need to be cut off from the world entirely. Call up friends you haven’t spoken to in a while. Check up on vulnerable relatives by giving them a ring. Use chat tools to stay in contact. Get some time face-to-face with the use of video chat tools like FaceTime and Skype.

Manage your finances

A budget isn’t going to change the amount money currently coming in, but a budget can help you to stretch the amount to meet your needs. Think about different ways you can save money, maybe cancel all non-essential subscriptions, use coupons and scan the net to get a better deal, plan meals and make a shopping list and call people you owe money to and see how they can help you. Many companies are offering support by way of holiday payments giving you some time until you are able to access financial support.

Go outside

It’s best to avoid group runs, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t get your blood pumping during a solo activity. Any kind of exercise will help limit your stress levels. Staying active also helps to boost your mood, and it’s a productive way to keep busy if you’re off from work at the moment.

Meditate

Grab a yoga mat and clear your mind for a moment. Meditation relaxes the mind and is an excellent stress management tool. If you’re unsure how to get started, don’t worry — there are plenty of guided meditation apps available online.  Many offer free trials so you can test the waters before you commit.

Sleep

Just like our schedules for eating, working and exercising, it’s important to sustain a regular sleep routine. For most people, between six to nine hours a night is sufficient. Going to bed and waking up at a similar time each day can help maintain a sense of normality, and help you follow through with plans.

If you’re finding it difficult to get to sleep because you’re lying awake worrying, try to limit your consumption of the news before bed. It can also be helpful to reduce your exposure to screens in the evening, as the effect of the blue light on our retinas can disrupt our sleep quality.

Talk to a professional

If you are finding it difficult to cope, it may be worth seeking help from a mental health professional. Synaco offers a free confidential employee assistance programme to all its employees.

There are also plenty of apps available online that allow you to speak safely and securely over the phone, via chat, or video with mental health experts. Find one that works for you if you need someone to talk to during these challenging times.