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Will You Be the Next COVID-19 Victim? It's not always physical, but it is always mental
Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist
Tenafly , NJ
Thursday, April 16, 2020

Dr. Patricia A. Farrell

The pandemic caused by the worldwide infection of millions of people by the COVID-19 virus, by now, has made itself known by its overt symptoms. But what of the unseen symptoms and the residual mental health problems that will linger long after there is a vaccine?


We now know that the virus doesn't only affect the lungs but has an incredible insidious, damaging effect on the heart, the circulatory and the nervous system and that's where it may prove most destructive. Lives that were thought to be saved will require a re-evaluation to treat the mental health effects of the virus and they will be evident in many people.


Whether you feel it or not, you will have been stressed more than you know or are willing to admit to yourself. Fight it now in healthy ways.


What to Do Beginning Today


No one knows who will be infected by the virus, but one thing we know for sure and that it is affecting all of us in many ways. We have had our lives turned upside down and sideways and we are in a free-fall as to where "normal" might be today, tomorrow and next year.


All of us hope for an effective vaccine, but until one comes, we must do everything we can to protect our physical and mental health.


Usually, most of us don't think about mental health changes that affect our immune system, but it is a well-established fact that they do. Research has shown that changes in our stress level will cause changes in the stress hormone, cortisol, and that can begin a slow, destructive process on our body's ability to protect itself.


Most of us, whether we go to work, work at home, are retired or are a homemaker, have a routine we follow. In fact, we know that routines provide a sense of stability to our lives, so that's where you start on the list I've provided here.


If we need one thing, it's stability and the sense that we'll come through this and continue with our lives.


Ten Things You Can Do


1. Maintain a daily/weekly routine. Life still goes on. You have responsibilities and chores to be done, so keep to it. You may need to tweak some things, so find out how to incorporate those changes and keep going.

2. Get enough sleep. If there's one thing that can act as a "medication" for anxiety, depression and a feeling of exhaustion, it's sleep. Researchers, therapists and primary care physicians have all to come to the realization that sleep is essential for good physical and mental health.

3. Keep your social contacts active. You may not be able to visit in person, but virtual visits, chats and phone calls will take the place and can be a great way to lift your spirits.

4.Phone your friends and family. Talking on the phone had almost become a lost art in our technology-centered world but hearing the voice of someone we love or whose company we enjoy is better than cold type on a monitor or cell screen.

5. Record a message from that person that both of you find uplifting and play it whenever you need a bit of re-energizing.

6. Eat a healthy diet. Stress can lead to binge eating of foods that are high in carbohydrates because they convert into substances that lift our mood, but they also cause weight gain and problems in blood pressure. You don't need any of that. Make mealtime a little special if that helps, so put candles on the table, use a tablecloth and do whatever makes it more festive and relaxing.

7. Give yourself a timeout. We usually think of timeouts as a way to let kids know their behavior was unacceptable, but you need a timeout to kick back, read a book, watch a funny movie or watch the clouds go by.

8.Exercise. When I say exercise, I am not talking about lifting weights or running a marathon. Exercise can be as simple as walking up and down stairs a few times (get a pedometer), getting exercise bands to do sets in front of the TV with someone or a friend on a video chat. We know exercise keeps the body tuned for health and acts to lessen stress and anxiety. Do it for you.

9. Learn something new. Stretch your mind with a free online course and explore your hidden talents.

10. Ask for and accept help when you need it. No, it's not a weakness but a display of striving to maintain strength. People are there to help. Let them help when you need it.


Post the 10 ideas on your fridge, near your computer or wherever you'll see it multiple times a day. And, don't forget to post that schedule of things to do and check them off as you accomplish each one of them.


We'll get through this with a few changes and a determination to be healthy both physically and mentally. You can do it.

Website: www.drfarrell.net

Author's page: http://amzn.to/2rVYB0J

Medium page: https://medium.com/@drpatfarrell

Twitter: @drpatfarrell

Attribution of this material is appreciated.

Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D., LLC
Tenafly, NJ
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