We can see the obvious effects of the virus, taking people’s lives away and stressing the healthcare system.  What we are now also seeing is the weak foundations of our healthcare systems breaking in response to an enormous stressor. We must practice self-care and, as a society, we must come together and support each other.  

Many people are trying their best to stay safe and stay home, and throughout this time there are further health concerns coming to the surface. Underlying health disparities and mental health concerns are being magnified.  The Seattle and King County, WA public health office has reported depression surveys are up 34% since March 2020 and crisis calls are up 12% from last year at this time. Many are losing their jobs, experiencing higher levels of stress, and have less financial and social support.  Feeling socially isolated is also a risk factor for worsening of depression. 

Staying healthy right now goes beyond wearing a mask and physical distancing. Unmanaged stress can lead to higher levels of hypertension, increased unhealthy eating habits that lead to weight gain and worsening of diabetes, or drinking more alcohol which stresses the kidney and liver. All of these are risk factors associated with poor COVID-19 outcomes. 

How can we all keep each other safe through physical distancing but also support the people who need it the most?  Problems of inequity were already there before, and through the pandemic they are becoming more apparent. Mental health matters, physical health matters, and access to care matters. 

For individuals, coping strategies are key for stress management. People can adapt to find new ways to cope, such as exercising outside instead of the gym, or virtual counseling instead of face-to-face.  You can stay safe by physical distancing and still get the support you need. You can still go on a neighborhood walk and wave to your neighbors, have a physically distanced picnic in the park with your household, or connect virtually with friends. The most important thing is to reach out for help if you need it, which is why we are including important resources below. 

Remember that health is also about finding a provider that can help you make healthy food choices, treat underlying stress and blood pressure, and make a routine exercise regimen.  This pandemic isn’t ending anytime soon, so don’t let your healthy habits fall away.  Get back on track by resuming the activities that can help you manage stress, support your mood, and keep your clarity of mind. Seek professional help for your mental health if you feel that you are struggling.  

As a society, we need to do a better job of supporting the needs of others. I encourage people to reach out to their family and friends through video calls or by phone if they haven’t seen them in a while, especially if they are living alone.  Senior living facilities are not allowing visitors right now, but many of them would allow greeting cards and window visits to cheer the residents up. Check in with your friends, family and co-workers to see if they are doing OK.

Lives are at stake, yes from COVID-19, and yes from this crisis within the pandemic.

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE:

  • Do not suffer alone. Seek professional help for your mental health struggles. 
  • Take advantage of telemedicine virtual counseling sessions. 
  • Check in on friends and family who may be struggling. 
  • Do what you can to help our healthcare system right now, knowing that this virus is affecting everyone in different ways. Wear a mask, practice good hygiene, and keep physically distancing between yourself and others. 
  • Think about the overall health of our society, and act towards preventing the spread of this virus.

We can see the obvious effects of the virus, taking people’s lives away and stressing the healthcare system.  What we are now also seeing is the weak foundations of our healthcare systems breaking in response to an enormous stressor. We must practice self-care and, as a society, we must come together and support each other.  

Many people are trying their best to stay safe and stay home, and throughout this time there are further health concerns coming to the surface. Underlying health disparities and mental health concerns are being magnified.  The Seattle and King County, WA public health office has reported depression surveys are up 34% since March 2020 and crisis calls are up 12% from last year at this time. Many are losing their jobs, experiencing higher levels of stress, and have less financial and social support.  Feeling socially isolated is also a risk factor for worsening of depression. 

Staying healthy right now goes beyond wearing a mask and physical distancing. Unmanaged stress can lead to higher levels of hypertension, increased unhealthy eating habits that lead to weight gain and worsening of diabetes, or drinking more alcohol which stresses the kidney and liver. All of these are risk factors associated with poor COVID-19 outcomes. 

How can we all keep each other safe through physical distancing but also support the people who need it the most?  Problems of inequity were already there before, and through the pandemic they are becoming more apparent. Mental health matters, physical health matters, and access to care matters. 

For individuals, coping strategies are key for stress management. People can adapt to find new ways to cope, such as exercising outside instead of the gym, or virtual counseling instead of face-to-face.  You can stay safe by physical distancing and still get the support you need. You can still go on a neighborhood walk and wave to your neighbors, have a physically distanced picnic in the park with your household, or connect virtually with friends. The most important thing is to reach out for help if you need it, which is why we are including important resources below. 

Remember that health is also about finding a provider that can help you make healthy food choices, treat underlying stress and blood pressure, and make a routine exercise regimen.  This pandemic isn’t ending anytime soon, so don’t let your healthy habits fall away.  Get back on track by resuming the activities that can help you manage stress, support your mood, and keep your clarity of mind. Seek professional help for your mental health if you feel that you are struggling.  

As a society, we need to do a better job of supporting the needs of others. I encourage people to reach out to their family and friends through video calls or by phone if they haven’t seen them in a while, especially if they are living alone.  Senior living facilities are not allowing visitors right now, but many of them would allow greeting cards and window visits to cheer the residents up. Check in with your friends, family and co-workers to see if they are doing OK.

Lives are at stake, yes from COVID-19, and yes from this crisis within the pandemic.

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE:

  • Do not suffer alone. Seek professional help for your mental health struggles. 
  • Take advantage of telemedicine virtual counseling sessions. 
  • Check in on friends and family who may be struggling. 
  • Do what you can to help our healthcare system right now, knowing that this virus is affecting everyone in different ways. Wear a mask, practice good hygiene, and keep physically distancing between yourself and others. 
  • Think about the overall health of our society, and act towards preventing the spread of this virus.

Mental health and resilience resources – information by country:

USA

Canada

Jamaica

 

BLOG POST AUTHOR

Allison Apfelbaum, ND, LMP lives and practices in Woodinville, WA. She is a member of the Naturopathic Alliance.