Healing from COVID FatigueApr 30, 2021 11:00AM ● By Amy Wiesner
Most of us have never lived through a pandemic. The elimination of our normal activities, even our freedom, which helped to keep us relatively balanced both emotionally and physically, has resulted in widespread unhealthiness. Being home, shut away, constantly around food, some of us without touching other beings (whether human or animal) has taken a toll on the world population.
We may have PTSD—post-traumatic stress disorder. We have been traumatized by the change to our lifestyles and in extreme cases, our food supplies, homes and income. We have also been in survival mode for a year—our very lives have been threatened.
According to Psychology Today, COVID-19 fatigue is a “complex of emotions that include boredom, loneliness, sadness, frustration, anxiety, fear, anger and resentment, all brought on by the loss of activities and social relations produced by pandemic restrictions”. Though the pandemic hasn’t yet gone away, there are some ways in which we can cope with this fatigue.
Now that the long winter is over, make sure to get out in the fresh air. Sunshine is very important. Not only will it help to reduce our feelings of isolation and confinement, but sunshine is necessary for a healthy body. We need sunshine to help support our circadian rhythm, to produce vitamin D, to balance our hormones melatonin and cortisol and to help promote healthy sleep.
Exercise is another way to fight COVID fatigue. We feel better both physically and emotionally when we exercise, not to mention the healthful benefits to our bodies and overall health. Exercise can help us to live longer and healthier and to stave off disease. It also releases chemicals that make us feel better emotionally and helps us to have healthier sleep.
Healthy sleep is incredibly important for mental and physical health and this is often neglected. Creating a healthy sleep regimen is necessary for gut health, hormone balance, healing and repair and a healthy immune system.
And think about how grumpy we are and how we sometimes can’t think properly when we don’t get enough sleep. It can even affect those around us—our loved ones, our coworkers, the driver who just cut us off. Prioritizing sleep is necessary. Set a schedule and try to stick to it—and make sure to get eight to nine hours each night, preferably between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Stress is also a ubiquitous side effect of the COVID pandemic. Stress negatively impacts all of our body, including our immune system. Not to mention the emotional and mental toll it takes on our everyday lives. Who doesn’t have some kind of stress in their lives, even before the pandemic? The thing is, we can’t eliminate stress, but we can change our reaction to it.
Meditation is an effective way to decrease our stress levels. By sitting still and being calm, we can change the way our brain reacts to stressors in our life. Our brains actually have an enormous capacity to change—it just takes consistency. Even if we only start with three minutes a day and work our way up, it’s a start to a less stressful life.
Healing therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic and massage are also great ways not only to deal with stress in general, but also to help waylay COVID fatigue. Acupuncture, for instance, helps the body to release endorphins, which makes people feel happier and create the “runner’s high”. Even just taking a bath or a long, indulgent shower can be healing.
Adrenal fatigue also needs to be addressed after a year in a pandemic. The stress from the change in our daily lives and the threat to our very existence which puts us in “fight or flight” mode can tax our adrenal glands. Exercise, proper sleep, a healthy diet and meditation can help get us on the right track.
Of course, a healthy diet must be mentioned. Eating healthy, unprocessed, whole foods is incredibly nurturing and healing. Not only are we getting essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals, we are decreasing inflammation in the body which can cause disease. It also makes us feel good long-term, whereas eating improperly can make us feel better initially, but feel tired or unwell later on, which only causes more stress. Eating healthfully is often the hardest thing to change as we use detrimental foods as a source of comfort in times of stress. Take this time to choose wisely and feel better both emotionally and physically.
Having a community to belong to with people who care about us is important to staying healthy mentally and emotionally as well. Religious groups, meditation groups, exercise groups and shared interests are ways to find like-minded individuals who can be supportive. And many groups are conducting meetings via Zoom, so we can still connect with other people even if we can’t leave home.
To keep our bodies the healthiest they can be so that we can hopefully avoid ever contracting COVID, we must combine all of these efforts to maintain a healthy immune system. Exercise, sleep, healthy food choices and mental and emotional well-being are all necessary for us to be at our best. As always, if feeling especially unwell—either emotionally, physically or both—seeking professional help is key.
Dr. Amy Wiesner has been a Naturopathic Physician and Licensed Acupuncturist for over 15 years. She assists people in healing on all levels—physically, mentally and emotionally. She has a private practice at the Wellness Institute with Dr. Marvin Schweitzer in Norwalk, but also does home visits and tele-health visits. Connect at 203-962-5887, [email protected] and HealthfulHarmony.com See ad, page 49.
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