How Can We Stay Well During Difficult Times
Sometimes, in times like these, it almost doesn’t feel real what’s happening around you and around the world. Even for me being in one of the recent hot spot cities of San Antonio, but, it is real. People are getting sick and dying nearly every day in my hometown from a virus that has become a pandemic. A pandemic – a medical term I remember writing down on flashcards preparing for a test for a medical terminology class I was taking in high school. Never once did I think about or grasp what it would mean to experience one – a breakout of a virus across the entire planet.
Looking back on those times I can almost laugh at myself in Freshman Biology when I was traumatized after having to read The Hot Zone – a book about an ebola outbreak. I can vividly remember the first scene that freaked me out: a man sitting on a flight having the graphic symptoms hit him while in the air. I won’t go into the gory details nor will I ask you to act out similarly disturbing scenes in front of your classmates. Loved my teacher, but that was a bit much for my early teenage anxiety.
So what has this self-reflection done? Well, for me it opens my eyes to a couple of important points. The Ebola outbreak set in this book was an epidemic, not a pandemic, and yet I was so affected by this story because of one individual’s experience that I couldn’t sleep at night. I believe that’s what’s so important to remember now more than ever – the individual. It can be easy to glaze over the numbers and become desensitized as they continue to increase into a range our mind can’t grasp; but, we have to remember every single digit represents a life who has experienced what this virus can do whether mildly or severely. We have to realize that every person on this planet has been affected by COVID-19 whether they have caught it themselves or had their lives adjusted to new ways of living to prevent the spread. It’s never been just about us as individuals, it’s about our entire world. In a way it’s one of those devastatingly beautiful ways of remembering we’re all human, we’re all the same, and we’re all connected. It makes me ask myself what I can do for the greater good of those around me even if those actions are small.
Another point I’ve taken away from this self-reflection is that I am so grateful that the symptoms of this virus are so varied rather than a set, clear, severe symptom like ebola. It’s a strange thing to be thankful for since it also alludes to the fact that we still don’t know everything this virus can do nor do we fully understand the secondary effects this virus has on those who get it. But, I am grateful that some people who get the virus have more mild experiences. I’m personally grateful for this because Nick and I got COVID-19 in June and we were lucky enough to only be on the couch for a few days with migraines, fevers, and overall tiredness and achy muscles. Thankfully nothing like the hemorrhagic fevers of ebola. But unfortunately, the varied nature of symptoms means that others are not so lucky and have had much worse symptoms. Some have experienced extreme discomfort, permanent health effects, and even lost their lives. My heart goes out to all of those individuals and their loved ones and I know I can’t begin to understand the heartbreak you’ve felt. My hope is that as we move forward more information is released in mainstream media about what can help people prevent a serious effect in their bodies. My hope is also that there are more individuals who make up the numbers that are mildly affected who can heal at home rather than having to need serious medical attention in hospitals. It’s a lot to hope for, but I think it’s possible and in the meantime, I point you in the direction of people like Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Dr. Peter Hotez who have come out with beneficial information about how you can help give your body more of what it needs to stay as healthy as possible.
Even though the point of this blog was to share my thoughts on how to stay well during these difficult times, I know I’ve taken the long way around to get to my point. But I share my personal experiences and self-reflection because I feel it puts things into perspective and may help you see how to relate to all that is happening around us in your own way. It encourages self-reflection and coming to a deeper understanding of ourselves and what we need. Being well is more than just being physically well. To me, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness are at times even more important. Our mental fortitude can dictate how we process and react through experiences like we are having now of isolation and restrictions of how we usually freely live. The more we understand ourselves, how past events have shaped us, and how we react to the world around us all lead us to a better understanding of how to move forward as best we can.
Being mentally and emotionally well also means we have to recognize what may trigger our fears or insecurities. Added stress on our system does us no good. If the news makes you anxious, trust me, take a few days off. I promise it’ll be the same whether you watch it or not. Learn to make the best decisions for you. It’s healthy to give yourself a mental break and reduce the stimulation that stresses you out. This stress releases hormones that put your body into flight or fight mode and have the potential to increase your inflammation levels meaning your body may have difficulty fighting off potential invaders if they should come.
So, how do we stay well during difficult times? I believe it’s when we take time to truly listen to ourselves. What do you need? Do you need to stop scrolling on Facebook because you always get off feeling upset? Delete it from your phone. Do you need to get outside and disconnect from the doom and gloom? Set time to be in nature or reach out to your loved ones and spread love and connectedness. You know yourself better than anyone else. What makes you happy and gives you joy? Surround yourself with those things that lift your spirit and keep you feeling balanced, positive, and well and I promise these times will seem a little less difficult.
Love and light always,