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  • Heather Davis

10 Helpful Reminders: Rx for a Pandemic & Every Other Day Too

Updated: Jul 31, 2020

1. The Physical & Mental Toll of Worry in a Time Such as This

2. Pandemic Rx: Gratitude

3. Productivity, Habit & Discipline During Uncertain Times

4. Pandemic Rx: Exercise

5. Solitude & our Power Separate from the Rest of the World

6. Pandemic Rx: Unplugging

7. Developing Resilience & Perseverance

8. Pandemic Rx: Greenspace

9. The Restart and the Value of Optimism

10. Pandemic Rx: Play, Nostalgia and Creativity

One: The Physical & Mental Toll of Worry in a Time Such as This

"Cultivating a measure of intelligent detachment in your life can be a valuable instrument of peace.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

A pandemic of stress, worry, anxiety

No one alive has experienced anything like this global pandemic and shutdown, the effects of which will no doubt be deep, widespread and long-lasting.

Even pre-pandemic, Americans were more stressed out, worried and anxious than ever.

From financial and housing worries to career and relationship stress, a 2019 poll by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) indicated that our collective anxiety was already on the rise. This virus certainly isn’t helping.

Anxiety is a disorder in reaction to our stress that has emotional, physical and mental components.

This last component includes worry: the thoughts associated with our stress and fears, that can and do run amok. A new APA poll adds COVID worries to our already-packed list of stressors.

As we hunker down to distance ourselves, half of America (48%) are worried about becoming infected with coronavirus. Forty (40%) percent of us worry about becoming seriously sick or dying from the virus; and a majority of Americans (62%) worry about our loved ones contracting the virus.

Beyond the spread itself, about half of us also fear shortages of food, medicine or supplies and almost one-third worry about lack of potentially-necessary tests and healthcare.

Most Americans are worried about the pandemic’s impact on their financial situation and 68% of Americans have concern about the long-term impact all of this will have on our economy.

There is an upside to a little bit of worrying - especially when our life or the life of a loved one is on the line. Normal levels of anxiety actually motivate us to work harder, problem-solve and help us prepare for the future. In the case of coronavirus, worry may cause us to be extra diligent, when it’s most important.

The problem is worry doesn’t much lend itself to moderation.

Most worry is not rational

Actual facts, if you can find them, help immensely. There’s already enough to worry about without adding random conspiracy theories or one or the other sides’ political agenda.

Way back before coronavirus, you know, a couple of months ago, the general consensus was that about 85% - 90% of what we worry about never actually happens. Let’s just go ahead and assume that whatever the majority of us are worried about right now is real and true and worth the fret.

That doesn’t mean it helps.

Indeed, all that worry and excessive stress actually clouds decision-making, blocking new ideas or solutions or a new perspective that can help us. In fact, studies have linked the stress hormone to a drop in mental function/IQ and brain mass, and memory loss.

Living for long stretches in a heightened state of anxiety, we do harm to our mental health and our physical well-being. If there was ever a time to focus on our own health, it’s now.

The physical toll of stress and worry

While our brain is working us up into a tither mentally and emotionally, there is also a real physical toll happening as well: anxiety and worry lead to high blood pressure and can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Stress leads to weakened immune systems, stomach ulcers, backaches, panic attacks, heart palpitations, skin conditions and problems with the bowels. Basically, anxiety can take down every part of your body.

Research shows that living with long-term stress even shortens our life expectancy.

Uncertainty and anxiety

Little right now