Health Weekly

The corona chronicles

March 25 - 31 , 2020

Gulf Weekly Naman Arora
By Naman Arora

Gulf Weekly The corona chronicles

The global coronavirus case count has crossed 260,000 and this has sparked local and global calls for practicing social distancing.

Schools and workplaces alike are calling for people to stay home and isolate themselves, no matter their age.

During a recent press conference, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organisation’s director-general, said: “Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else. I’m grateful that so many people are spreading the word and not the virus. Solidarity is the key to defeating COVID-19 - solidarity between countries, but also between age groups.”

As more and more people spend time indoors, isolated from one another in solidarity, the isolation as well as anxiety around the crisis is likely to increase stress, detrimentally affecting people’s mental and physical health.

Dr Tedros added: “During this difficult time, it’s important to continue looking after your physical and mental health. This will not only help you in the long-term, it will also help you fight Covid-19 if you get it.

“First, eat a healthy and nutritious diet which helps your immune system to function properly.

“Second, avoid alcohol consumption and avoid sugary drinks.

“Third, don’t smoke. Smoking can increase your risk of developing severe disease if you become infected with Covid-19.

“Fourth, exercise. WHO recommends 30 minutes of physical activity a day for adults and one hour a day for children. As far as national guidelines allow it, go outside for a walk, a run or a ride and keep a safe distance from others. If you can’t leave the house, find an exercise video online, dance to music, do some yoga, or walk up and down the stairs. If you’re working at home, make sure you don’t sit in the same position for long periods. Get up and take a three-minute break every 30 minutes.

“Fifth, look after your mental health. It’s normal to feel stressed, confused and scared during a crisis. Talking to people you know and trust can help.”

Mental health, even during normal times, can be a difficult subject to address. Staying in isolation, even if it is with family, can often be stressful for most.

u Check in on neighbours, family and friends, virtually. Compassion is a medicine. Numerous patients in Wuhan recognised the value of staying connected with loved ones, even if it was through an instant messaging (IM) application. Especially make sure to check in with friends and family who have a history of depression or anxiety.

u Pick up that hobby you have been meaning to try. Connor Reed, 25, the first Briton to catch the coronavirus in Wuhan and be isolated for more than 40 days after he recovered, took the time to learn Russian and pick up an instrument, so he could stay occupied.

u Listen to music, read or play a board game. While it is tempting to catch up on thousands of Netflix hours, doing something creative instead of consumptive is more likely to keep your brain stimulated and active.

u Make time and space for your own needs and feelings. Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly, keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy food.

u Try not to read or watch too much news if it makes you anxious. Get your information from reliable sources once or twice a day.

Undeniably, this is quite a stressful time for everyone, and while we as human beings are conditioned to come together in such times, the paradox here is that by staying apart, we can stand together. Fortunately, our technology-enabled lives help us stay connected and keep busy while doing so.

So stay busy, and who knows? GulfWeekly might be doing a story on the book you end up writing or your hidden maestro-level Oud skills, when this is all done!

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