As practicing physicians, we have been seeing patients with COVID-19 for just over 10 months in our clinics and hospitals. Here is our advice:
#1) Turn off the news. When we see patients, who are visibly nervous and upset we suggest that they turn off the news (because let’s face it - it’s mainly bad news)- perhaps try the nature channel or phone a friend, listen to classical music or take a walk along the river… the beneficial results are almost instantaneous. We know it is important for us all to stay informed, however having a running commentary focused 24/7 on a variety of worst case nightmare scenarios is harmful to our health. Especially when we are sick, just as we need to consume a healthy diet in general, and this includes not only organic whole foods, but also safe and balanced sources of information. We need to actively eliminate our doses of fear and increase of intake of hope and inspiration.
#2) Support your immune system. Ideally, start before you get sick. Although we have limited studies regarding vitamins, herbs and supplements when it comes to COVID-19 specifically, we do have more evidence that they help when it comes to other viruses, including the corona virus family. These observations by no means replace your physician’s evaluation and advice. Some of the research suggests that of our immune system’s best allies include Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, CBD, elderberry, Turkey Tail mushroom and melatonin. An optimal Vitamin D level is 60-100 ng/ml and the majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients have much lower levels, we understand through direct observation that patients with low Vitamin D levels have a tendency to do poorly with this infection. Getting out in nature and exposing yourself to sunlight can help boost Vitamin D levels in the body as well as taking a Vitamin D supplement and checking your Vitamin D levels regularly can guide your usage.
#3) Move your body. Do things that bring you joy, dance, walk, run, play -whatever it is – doing yoga in your living room to playing in the yard with your dog. Exercise has been shown in numerous studies to support your immune system as well as stave off depression and anxiety.
#4) Ask for help. So many patients that we care for in the clinic and the hospital struggle with asking for help. Whether if it is from pride, shame or just not knowing how they often wait until things have gotten really bad before they come in for help - had they come in earlier - their bodies would have suffered less damage and possibly recovered more quickly. Especially with COVID-19, we want to intervene before you need the ICU and a ventilator. Even with limited resources and rationing - there are still many avenues of support available to all of us. Many of us are uncomfortable in the role of patient and that’s okay, during these times we are all potential patients and need to have compassion and empathy for each other. It is through asking for and providing help that will bring us all together.
#5) Be patient. One of COVID’s great lessons is to slow down and pause. This takes patience and when you are scared and uncomfortable it is hard to just be. This is more challenging than ever but it can be an opportunity to become clear on what you truly need and want in your life. It can also show us how much we value the people in our lives and how truly interconnected we all are.
#6) Connect with people in appropriate and safe ways. COVID-19 has also amplified the experience of loneliness. We’ve all experienced the challenges of social distancing and this unfortunately is taken to a new level for patients. Visitors are restricted to one single person per hospitalization for just a few hours each afternoon. It’s okay to let people know that we are all lonely, scared, bored at times and we should to ask for what we need. This is also an opportunity to make those phone calls, initiate video chats and even revisit the art of letter writing. Reach out in your own way but please reach out. As humans, we have a need to socialize and being disconnected from others can cause significant emotional, physical and spiritual harm.
To learn more about our medical partners please visit their website at www.gerbermedical.com
And their podcast at www.themedicinewheel.org.
Sean Devlin D.O. and Ann Barnet M.D.