Updated: Dec 1, 2020
COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way we all live. With a few exceptions, Sweden and Taiwan being examples, countries across the world have chosen lockdown and enforced social distancing as general policies to control the declared pandemic.
We know that when our immune system is functioning properly it is very effective at neutralising and eliminating pathogens, even virulent ones. Our environment, lifestyle and emotional response play a key role in how strong and effective our immunity actually is – whether we have a high or low susceptibility to infection – as well as the degree to which we build up internally toxicity.
A good diet, sufficient sunlight, rest and sleep, a regular meditation practice, exercise, having a good laugh, human touch and contact can all contribute to a robust and healthy immune system.
How does stress in the form of fear and anxiety fit in? Let’s have a brief look at this question.
The stress response is a normal survival mechanism if for example we’re being chased by a tiger or have a car land on our foot. This essential response enables heightened alertness and focus and diverts the body’s energy and blood circulation to the periphery, so the arms and legs are primed to escape danger.
Fear, anxiety or apprehension prior to a new event or uncomfortable situation in our life can also be normal. We may justifiably feel uneasy, have butterflies in our stomach or a fast heartbeat and slightly sweaty palms on the first day of our new job, when waiting to hear back from that new date or while watching the latest thriller.
If our fight and flight mechanism becomes maladapted and the stress response fails to switch off once an acute situation passes it can become an issue. Protection and repair, maintenance and growth of the body cannot occur simultaneously.
When we remain fearful and anxious, because we are worried of coming into contact with SARS-CoV-2 or are affected by another stress our energy continues to be redirected away from bodily growth and maintenance towards surviving the danger – perceived or otherwise. Ironically our stress response will reduce our immune system and render us more susceptible to not only COVID-19 but also other opportunistic infections.
When it comes to a choice between dealing with infection or danger the body prioritizes the later. Subsequent to the danger passing the infection can be addressed. Dr Bruce Lipton, an American biologist recounts examples of those having organ transplantation to help us understand this clearly. As part preparation of a patient receiving a donated organ stress hormones are given. Why? Because stress hormones are so effective in shutting down an immune system that it allows the new organ to be accepted, rather than rejected by the patient as foreign tissue.
According to Professor David Warburton of the University of Reading experiencing a few pleasurable incidences in our day versus having a few annoying encounters or hassles can mean the difference, between protection against infection for three to four days ahead or a lowered resistance to infection.
Balance is important. Good hygiene practices, whilst not over sterilising our environment – we co-exist with and rely on myriads of viruses and bacteria which are an integral part of us – are important for immune strength.
Whether we choose to sit in the sun, walk along a beach, meditate, soak in a relaxing Epsom salts bath, drink calming herbal teas, employ de-stressing essential oils or take an alternative approach such as a good yarn with a friend, it is imperative to eliminate anxiety and fear.
Tune in and select the best options for yourself. You will understand what you best need.
Next time we will be taking a look at facemasks and whether they are helpful for or detriment to our health. We will check out some science behind a mask.
The information presented here does not include diagnosis of Medical ailments or drug interactions. Please consult with your NHAA medical herbalist, G.P. or pharmacist for a diagnosis of symptoms and advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs. The information contained in this article is based on research and the personal experience of the author who may not be held responsible for any adverse effects or consequences that may arise as a result of implementation of any of the information contained in this article or for any omissions or errors within it.