The world and our perception of our everyday lives seems to have changed so much over the past month since, in the UK at least, we have gone from 35 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 as of the 1st March to today’s (25rd March) official figure of 9,529. Globally the figures are growing as the WHO pushes testing and there are a variety of “dashboards” and reported figures to choose from but all indicate a pandemic that most of us, if any, have no first-hand experience. COVID-19 has created a lot of fear amongst populations, an unknown mortality rate, stretched (broken) health systems and is creating immediate and devastating financial impacts to global stock markets with the economic reality for most people still to come. Pretty gloomy at best, even when trying to be optimistic, March 2020 has been a tough time for all of us.
This graphic from the Information is Beautiful data pack puts an interesting perspective on this pandemic compared with others, and perhaps reasons not to panic. China and South Korea appear to have contained the spread of the virus in so much as they are now experiencing a deceleration phase.
Self-Isolation and Social distancing
The UK government announced on Mon 23rd March that a 21 day period known as a ‘lockdown’ would begin (or longer if over 70 years of age or identified with specific vulnerabilities in an attempt to “flatten the curve” and to slow the spread. This will give our NHS system some assistance in what we know is an incredibly difficult time for all the different A&E departments, hospital staff, the NHS 111 line and GP surgeries around the country.
There will be real challenges in doing this for most of us and there has been lots of advice and tips on how to pass the time with the myriad of scenarios we all individually find ourselves in.
Some of the more notable and common ideas are:
- Tech Connect – Family and Friends video conference calls (Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime) have been used extensively in recent weeks and perhaps this technology being widely adopted will prove a “connection” saviour for the next few months.
- Exercise – a tricky one for gym-goers now that leisure centres have been closed, and for social runners/walkers when self-isolating and social distancing. However, many of us do not require gym equipment to work out and simple body weight exercises can be sufficient for strength. At the time of writing, getting outside following social distancing guidance of 2 metres, is still recommended and will benefit your mental health and strengthen your immune system.
- Get your sunshine vitamin – a difficult one if you can’t get out and if you live in the northern hemisphere, the sun’s too low this time of year to allow your skin to produce the vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential in supporting your immune system and supplements at this time can really help, see our previous blog for details
- Sleep – Get plenty of good quality sleep to help your immune system be primed for the days ahead. Avoiding blue light from screens or reading news reports late into the night can really help
- Mental Health and routine – being pushed out of our normal routine is one of the things that can make us vulnerable to our moods deteriorating. It’s important if you’re working from home or looking after kids at home to have a routine. So, whether that’s having set times that you do things, getting up and dressed or doing tasks around the house, have a plan, because that’s what keeps us going in our normal day-to-day lives.
- Learn something new – some of us will inevitably have more time on our hands and learning something new is a tired and tested way of passing the time productively and positively. It could be a new language, a new piece of music, new podcasts or that recipe you have been meaning to try (if you can find the ingredients!)
- Avoid the “Infodemic” – perhaps the hardest aspect of this is the deluge of information we have to sift through and digest in an elevated state of anxiety. Many recommendations of how to deal with this, but perhaps looking to limit this to a short 10-minute morning and evening read of your preferred media channel can help with cognitive overload.
Working from home
Those lucky enough to be able to work from home (WFH) can at least keep some degree of everyday existence going but this also brings its own challenges. We have included some useful articles if this is something you are struggling with.
As many of you will have experienced and seen, the sense of togetherness throughout the first month of this crisis has in fact been bringing communities closer in ways that have surprised us all. There have been some inspiring local stories and some kindnesses posted on social media that really do lift the spirit. Many commentators are already writing about the changing cultural values that have started to show during this difficult time. Positive developments need more exposure, to ensure a balance is maintained between relevant and vital news and developments or changes that indicate improvements.
Amongst the panic, fear and considerable unknowns where we are pulling so strongly on our families, friends, communities and our innate need for connection there is a timely reminder of what we really value in our lives. Our health and meaningful connection to those around us.
Staying up to date
All the usual sources are available but we have some perhaps you have not come across before and might offer some interesting views and information, some more technical in nature than others.
- WHO – https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
- JHU – https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/
- Information is beautiful – https://informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/covid-19-coronavirus-infographic-datapack/
- Our world in data – https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus
- A bit of history – https://www.visualcapitalist.com/history-of-pandemics-deadliest/
- Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/drchatterjee/ and https://www.instagram.com/plantpowerdoctor/
- Twitter – https://twitter.com/AmeshAA?s=20
We are sure that frustration, confusion, disappointment and sadness will be emotions that everyone will be trying to manage over the coming weeks. Remember that pandemics to come to an end, there will be changes, some for the considerable better.
Keep safe, keep well and take the time to enhance your clinical knowledge. In the USA an Integrative Medicine COVID-19 Support Registry has begun, to aggregate information of non-pharmacological interventions. So, if you or someone you support uses nutrition to improve and recover their health, do record it on this site, it may be helpful for others.