Minimizing the Mental and Physical Impact of COVID-19
"It’s the perfect time to start focusing on ourselves and especially our health more."
The COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) crisis has a lot of people worried and wondering what to do. Now that more testing is becoming available, and we’re learning just how contagious it is, the numbers are undoubtedly going to spike soon. We’re also learning more and more scary things about this virus: for example it was recently discovered that the coronavirus was found on the surfaces of cruise-ship cabins 17 days after all the passengers left. This is no ordinary cold or flu virus.
It’s important that we all do our part — and that includes making sure we stay home, and doing everything we can to flatten the curve and stop the rapid spread! In today’s video, Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD, is going to explain why it’s important to stay home, as well as share ways that you and your family to take care of your physical, mental, and social health, while you go through isolation and disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 06:55: What the Medical Community is Telling Us About COVID-19
- 11:23: Steps to Flattening the Curve
- 19:58: The Silver Lining: Time
- 25:20: The Facts from CDC and WHO
- 28:24: Staying Healthy & Boosting the Immune System
- 33:30: Immune Influencers
- 35:55: Vitamin D and Immunity
- 42:51: Wrap-Up
Today, we’re going to focus on how to change the way you look at this situation and find positives in even the darkest of times. In addition to reviewing the new guidelines on what we need to do help combat the spread of COVID-19, we’ll talk about what you need to do to minimize the impact of the virus, if you do get it, which means building up your immune health now!
We’ll also share the most effective, research-based ways to make sure your immune system is at its strongest and working to keep you safe and healthy.
What the Medical Community is Telling Us About COVID-19
We’re not going to go into the statistics surrounding the rapid spread of the disease, as these are available from a wide variety of resources and constantly updated. What we do want to focus on is the measure that has been shown to be the number one way to flatten the curve and slow the spread of this dangerous virus.
It starts with all of us — not the government (though they need to do their part too)! What we all need to understand, and take very seriously, is that COVID-19 is not just a virus that affects the elderly — not by a long shot. Young people can not only get COVID-19, but they also spread it at a faster rate, since higher levels of the virus have been reported in younger adults .
In fact, according to the current data, 18-49-year-olds represent more than 50% of the COVID-19 cases in the country, and we’ll probably find that number to be higher once testing is more widespread. So, they can get COVID-19, they can get sick — in some cases very, very sick — but most people in this age group will recover without lasting damage. However they can and do transmit the virus to others, including the older population.
And we now know it’s a very dangerous virus for older people — that’s why it’s so important for us all to be aware and do our part. It seems to be most dangerous for people with conditions like hypertension, which affects half of Americans over age 50, and almost 80% of people over 75. For these people COVID-19 is no joke; it’s a killer.
For those of us in the 18-49 demographic we really need to be aware that they can transmit this, even without a direct transmission (like a cough or a sneeze). You can touch a surface or sit at a table, and up to 24 hours later (or perhaps even longer as we’re now learning), someone else can touch the same surface, or sit at the same table, and contract the virus. So, it’s really important for all of us to take the appropriate steps to stop the spread and flatten the curve of this virus — that means taking seriously the basics the medical experts have told us.
Steps to Flattening the Curve
Practicing social distancing
Stay 6 feet from all non-family members (and any sick family members). Six feet is probably further away than you probably think, so measure it out to get an idea what that really looks like. Social distancing means maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from non-family members at all times.
Stay home until your city or state gives you the all clear
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to lock yourself inside. You can go outside; go for a walk, garden, sit on your deck and read a great book, play in your yard with your kids, go for a jog with your dog away from people — just maintain the 6 feet of distance between you and non-family members and try not to touch anything. In fact, best to stay away from places like parks and other high-contact public areas altogether.
Wash your hands a LOT
Wash your hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds, with warm soapy water. When you can’t wash, sanitize with hand sanitizer made of at least 65% alcohol. Also take a few extra minutes every day to wipe down your counters, your phones, your door handles, your car keys, and even your glasses with an alcohol or bleach-based cleaning product. Any surface that gets touched regularly, should be cleaned regularly.
Understand that Life is Different Now
This is a major thing — what you can’t do is act like it’s life as normal. This new version of our lives could go on for several months — 2, 4, 5, or even 6 months or more. We need to accept that this is not going away in the near future; this is our new reality going forward but it won’t be forever.
As we’ve said all along, let’s not panic. Let’s be concerned, aware and informed. None of that has changed. We’re close to where the models predicted we would be at this point.
We do understand understand that it’s easy to feel like the world is spinning out of control, but it doesn’t have to feel that way; we all have the ability to take back some control, to think this through, and to be intentional with each decision we make as we navigate through this COVID-19 pandemic.
We know there are going to be challenges, and some personal hardships for sure, but we will get through this together.
However, this is going to be harder for some than for others. Many are experiencing cabin fever and boredom, or more serious issues like emotional pain, loss, depression, and isolation. These issues are very real, and for many they feel worse than contracting the virus and may have more lasting damage. This way of living is not what we know — no more hugs, and handshakes — we can’t do what we’ve always done. For a society that already had an isolation and loneliness problem, this is loneliness on steroids for many.
The Silver Lining: Time
But the good news is many of us now have time — more time than we’ve had in years. Everything we know about “normal life” has ground to a screeching halt, so now we have the precious gift of time. As we ride COVID-19 out, the most important question is how do you use this time positively and productively?
That’s what we want to talk about today — the possible silver lining — making the best of this situation and how you can use it to ensure you stay as healthy, as happy, and as engaged in possible!
So, first things first: life is going to be a lot quieter. We won’t be going to family gatherings, parties, vacations, restaurants, or the other things we are used to doing, anytime soon. Sure it’s sad that we won’t be able to do these things for a while, but there is also going to be less noise and distraction. We’ve stepped away from the hustle and bustle of life as we knew it, and that can be a really good thing. It gives us the opportunity to work on ourselves, and all the other things you wish you had time for.
If you’ve ever said, “I wish I had more time to (draw, write, spring clean, learn a hobby, or something else), you do have it now.
It’s the perfect time to start focusing on ourselves and especially our health more. So try to make peace with the situation and accept it. Your mission now is to take care of you and to find a way to be socially distant while at the same time being spiritually and emotionally connected with those around you.
As crazy as this situation is or feels, take a few deep breaths and realize that it has given us gifts… our job know is to identify what those gifts are, and how to use them. It could be more quality time with your kids, and an inside look at their education, time to work on projects you haven’t been able to get to, time to get your herb garden shape, or finally write that book, and time to evaluate your health.
The Facts from CDC and WHO
Most people are going to feel anxiety, because we don’t know exactly what’s coming next. But let’s pay attention to the facts — real facts from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) — not politicians or the news media who don’t always get the facts straight. And remember, many people will get the virus; in fact, there’s a real strong chance that 80% of us will contract COVID-19 over time. But don’t panic: the facts tell us that 98% of people who get the virus will be okay. We know that grocery stores will function and food is available, pharmacies will function and medicine is available, law enforcement and firemen are working, and we will have protection. But we all need to do our part, because if we can spread it out so that we don’t all get sick at once, then our hospitals have a better chance of dealing with this.
Life is about facing challenges head on, working together, and overcoming these challenges, right? So let’s make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure we are taking care of each other as we face this challenge.
Staying Healthy & Boosting the Immune System
We also want to make sure you are doing everything you can to take care of your health during this time. And while there isn’t a vaccine or a cure for the COVID-19 virus, there are plenty of steps you could, and should, be taking to strengthen your immune system and to keep yourself healthy!
Recently, the New York Times published an article about boosting the immune system. It was a very straight-forward science- based piece about what really has been proven to affect your immune system and what is just anecdotal without proof. It had a lot of really good advice and tips that we want to share with you.
If you watch Dr. Nancy’s shows regularly, you know she is always focused on supporting a strong, healthy immune system. Now, with COVID-19 here, people are literally searching the internet high and low for the best ways to maintain a healthy immune system. Unfortunately, as with anything online, these searches can produce a lot of misinformation on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to strengthening your immune system. So, let’s clear this up: here’s what science and research says about what you should be doing to keep your immune system strong and healthy, including the one surprising step that is proving to be an absolute immune-boosting essential.
Your genes — traits passed down from your parents — play a role in a number of health issues, including whether you have a strong or weak immune system. However, the research tells us that when it comes to your immune system, your genetics are a factor but not a major one in regards to how efficiently (or inefficiently) your body responds to illness and infection.
In fact, research studies examining the immune systems of twins showed that the strength of the immune system is largely determined by factors other than our genetics — things that we control, not things we are born with. The most common factors have to do with our stress levels, our diets, the amount of quality sleep we get, and how we exercise — all of those factors play a significant role into the health of our immune systems.
What does this mean? It means good news for all of us. It means that we have significant influence over the health of our immune system; more than we ever realized. We have the ability to make choices that directly determine (at least partly) how our bodies respond to respiratory viruses and other health issues.
Immune System Influencers
There are a few immune influencers that most of us know.
- Stress is one example. It’s pretty simple: less stress, less illness. Lower stress supports a stronger immune system.
- The same goes for sleep: research demonstrates a direct correlation between sleep and your health. For example, those who sleep less than 6 hours per night are over four times more likely to catch a cold or get sick when compared to people who sleep 7 or more hours per night. So get your sleep! No more late night Netflix binges.
- Exercise and diet. People who exercise and those who eat better have better immune systems.
Vitamin D and Immunity
One thing many people don’t know is the proven profound effect vitamin D has on your immune system. We often hear about vitamin D’s benefits for a number of reasons, including: better bone health, mood, and more. But more and more research is demonstrating that vitamin D is a key factor in supporting a strong, healthy immune system.
In fact, recent research shows us that supplementing with vitamin D on a regular basis could help your body fight off a respiratory illness — and not by just a little. Get this: in one study, older adults who supplemented with increased amounts of vitamin D on a regular basis had 40% less respiratory infections than those who took a regular, standard dose. The study also concluded that supplementing with vitamin D showed an overall protective effect against acute respiratory tract infections.
You can see why making sure you’re not deficient in vitamin D is important. If you want an overall stronger immune system and if you want to help decrease your risk of respiratory infection, then supplement with a high-quality source of vitamin D.
The “high-quality” part is where it gets tricky. There are literally hundreds, and probably even thousands of low-quality vitamin D’s on the market today — don’t be fooled by their catchy names or tag lines. You need to make sure you are supplementing with only the best form of vitamin D that not only provides a full therapeutic dose of the vitamin in its active form, but is also 100% plant-based. That’s hard to find, since most vitamin D supplements are made from the excretions of sheep glands. Smarter Vitamin D checks all these boxes: it provides 5,000 IUs of plant-based vitamin D3 along with vitamin K2, which is an absolute must when supplementing with vitamin D.
For years we heard that you need to get 20-30 minutes of direct sun each day — that’s what’s been recommended to help you get enough vitamin D and improve your health. But new research is showing us that it is just not that simple. In fact, we are finding that it’s really difficult to get enough Vitamin D from sunshine or food alone. That’s another reason getting a good plant-based Vitamin D supplement is so important.
This is all part of supporting a healthy immune system. We are nearing the peak of the worst pandemic in our history and we are still in our winter/spring virus season. What does that mean? It means that 90% of Americans (that’s 9 out of 10) are deficient in Vitamin D — leading to weakened immune systems and increased risk of respiratory illnesses. Talk about horrible timing, right?
Keep in mind that a multivitamin won’t contain the therapeutic dose (the dose required to make up for a deficiency), and if you are deficient, it can take a week or two to get your levels up to where they should be, so start as soon as possible.
To summarize, we are currently in uncharted territory. COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down — but we can take some control and make sure we are doing everything we can to stay healthy and fit, both physically and mentally to make the best of a really bad situation.
Take this time to focus on you: set goals, spend time with family, cook some great meals, read a few great books, listen to amazing music, exercise, and make sure that you are supporting a healthy immune system. Smarter Nutrition vitamin D has been sold out for a while, but it’s back in stock.
Stay healthy, stay well, and stay positive — we are going to get through this, together!