Ways to Stay Healthy Amidst Crisis

In this time of great concern, stress and fear are likely mounting. It is an incredibly important time to care for yourself in ways that support your immune system. While there are no individuals exempt from contracting Coronavirus (COVID-19), it is particularly important to protect our at-risk demographic (60+).


There are many healthy, preventative practices you can take to help lower the curve.


Fear Suppresses the Immune System

It is incredibly important to manage fear, stress and anxiety. A suppressed immune system increases your risk of facing health concerns with or without a pandemic. Staying calm and emotionally regulated supports a strong immune system. It is incredibly important to feel safe and secure in your environment.


Stay calm! If you are having a challenging time staying calm, here are a few things you can do to exercise and strengthen your stress response.


Breathing Exercises Sit down, close your eyes and observe your breath. Notice the temperature, texture, and where oxygen is travelling in the body.


Meditation There are many online meditations available to help manage stress; to observe without judgment; and to encourage sleep.


Exercise If you are able to leave your home, you might take a walk. You can also do yoga at home or choose another modality of exercise that works for you.


Limit the amount of news you are watching, listening to and reading. The news can be sensationalized and increase fear, stress, and anxiety. If you want reliable COVID-19 updates check the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.


Practice Social Distancing Get together with friends over video chat, call family instead of stopping by and do your best to put 6 feet between you and others when ini public spaces. Many gyms and fitness instructors are moving to online only formats so maybe try an in-home, online format for a while.


Limit Travel Flights are amazingly low, we know. As tempting as it might be, we recommend limiting travel, and before we know it, travel may be temporarily restricted.It is a good idea to cancel leisurely travel and only travel is absolutely necessary. Airplanes and airports are a hub for germs. It is hard to practice social distancing in the close quarters of an airplane. If you must travel, here are a few guidelines:


  • Book a Window Seat There will be one less person you have to bump shoulders with.

  • Bring Wipes Wipe down your area before you settle in, wipe the tray arm rests and any other surfaces you might have to touch.

  • Bring Hand Sanitizer If you do not have access to a hand washing station, hand sanitizer is an effective way to clean your hands. Use sanitizer after touching surfaces, making exchanges with other people (money, goods, services, etc.)


Wash Your Hands Seemingly it goes without saying, wash your hands. We have to go to the grocery store, the gas station, and run errands. When you return home, wash your hands. Be mindful, it is important to keep your hands away from your eyes, mouth and nose.

Sing happy birthday twice as you wash your hands, or sing twinkle, twinkle, until they sparkle sparkle.


Dance or Breathe The vagus nerve activates your relaxation response reducing heart rate and blood pressure. Dance helps to exercise your vagus nerve, and help to keep stress at bay. Deep breathing stimulates your vagus nerve and the vagus nerve puts brakes on the stress response.


There are great benefits to dancing like no one is watching. Turn your music up loud, or put your headphones in and have a dance party.


Most importantly, take care of yourself. Check your states government websites for important local closures, precautions, and restrictions.

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© 2020 by Markesha Miller, Ph.D.