Even though we have been living under the situation of the global pandemic since 2020, many of us are still struggling in getting used to the “new normal” life where there are a lot of changes and uncertainties due to the severity and the mutations of the virus, the rises in the number of COVID-19 patients and daily death tolls, the shortages of beds, medical supplies, the front liners and caregivers, the new treatment strategy, the increase in strict policies from the governments, financial constraints, lacking of effective vaccines, social isolation and unexpected unemployment. Dr. Pattcharanun Sripattanawat (Dr. Cee), a functional medicine doctor at BodyConscious, a wellness centre in Bangkok, explains that under the circumstances of changes and uncertainties, stress and anxiety is a normal reaction that may occur, especially for those who are infected, older people and people with underlying chronic diseases.
First of all, it is important to understand stress. As we are in a stressful situation, our adrenal glands release a stress hormone called Cortisol into our bloodstream. The release of the hormone, also known as a “Flight or Fight response”, results in the increases in heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar level, which help to prepare our bodies to be ready for the emergency situations. Low or moderate level of stress is acceptable for sometimes as it can improve our cognitive function, heighten memory, increase our immune and help us fight through obstacles, including the pandemic. However, if we are in the constant high stress mode for a long period of time, stress can lead to many unpleasant symptoms, such as sleep troubles, lack of energy, hormone imbalance, muscle tension, emotional fluctuation, frustration, changes in eating patterns (binge eating or decrease in appetite), impaired concentration, digestive problems as well as suppressed immune system. As stress affect both our physical and psychological health. It is important to find ways to relieve stress. Dr. Pattcharanun suggests 5 ways to effectively and efficiently cope with stress.
Amid the global crisis of the COVID 19 pandemic, it is important to stay informed but not to overly consume the news. Excessive consumptions of the real time updates and constant notifications on your phone should be avoided. Dr. Pattcharanun suggests that checking updates from reliable sources only once or twice a day is sufficient to prevent you from overwhelming negative feelings.
Apart from the limiting the news intake, engaging in activities, such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, stretching, reading books, listening to relaxing music, soothing nature sound or sound healing, taking a warm bath or shower before bed, journaling or living a slower pace of life can effectively unwind your stress.
Diet also plays an important role in regulating your stress level. It is suggested that healthy food, such as banana, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, avocados, eggs, nut milk, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, pistachios, almonds, buckwheat, brown rice, citrus fruit, Perilla, unsweetened dark chocolate, turmeric, chamomile tea and green tea, can essentially lower your stress. However, food choices, such as coffee, fried food, sugary food and desserts, salty food, processed food and alcohol should be avoided as they can trigger your stress and suppress your immunity.
Another way to relieve stress is to sleep well. It is recommended that people in general should sleep at least 7 to 9 hours per night. Sufficient sleep provides many benefits to your body, including reducing stress, accelerating muscle repair, improving concentration, keeping your heart healthy and boosting your immune system. There are several ways to improve your sleep, including limiting screen time before going to bed, avoiding caffeine intake after 2PM, taking hot bath or shower before bed and including physical activity in your daily routine.
Exercising does not only benefit your physical health but also your mental health. Exercising stimulates your body to produce endorphins which are the body’s natural mood elevators and painkillers. However, it is recommended to avoid over exercising as it can lead to physical stress, delayed recovery time, insomnia, decrease in appetite, weakened immune system and fatigue.
If you still find that you are currently having difficulties handling your stress and that stress obviously affect your normal daily life, such as experiencing sleep difficulties, constant fatigue, lack of energy or digestive issues, at BodyConscious, we have wellness health check-up packages that can deeply look through the root causes of the problems underlying your stress as well as personalized vitamins that can help you to effectively manage your stress and the side effects. (See more about Basic Energy Boost Up and Stress Management, Comprehensive Energy Boost Up and Stress Management, Sleep Enhancement, Immune Boosting Supplement, Stress Relief and Sleep Enhancement Supplement)