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Steps to building emotional resilience in uncertain times

Amy Reidhead
As we enter the seventh week (or is it week 107?) of social distancing and quarantine, for some, ongoing social isolation may be eroding our ability to be happy. No matter who you are, we have all suffered in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The structure of our day-to-day lives as well as our roles and responsibilities have drastically changed. Globally, we are experiencing this pandemic together, but the uncertainty and fear of quarantine has us sheltering at home, compounding feelings of loneliness, sadness, guilt, doubt, anger distrust and disorientation.
 
A review article looking at the impact of the more recent SARs and MERs epidemics and concluded that quarantine had significant mental health consequences, especially among healthcare workers, those infected with the virus and in those with previous mental health concerns.

Reviewing these studies found quarantining for as little as two weeks was associated with a dramatic rise in depression, anxiety, anger, confusion and post-traumatic stress disorder as well as an escalation in drug and alcohol use disorders. Read more about the psychological impact of quarantine.

So what is “normal” to feel at this time? 
That answer can really include just about anything. Some common things we are hearing include increased feelings of irritation, annoyance, fear, frustration, guilt, anxiety, and sadness, overwhelm and anger. 
Our emotional health may also manifest as physical symptoms like insomnia, nervousness, compulsive eating or drinking, loss of appetite, deteriorating work or school performance, poor concentration, profound fatigue, and indecisiveness.
 
Take a deep breath. All of this is normal.
Stress impacts the brain in a number of ways. Are you feeling more tired than usual? During prolonged stress, your brain uses fuel at an alarming rate, depleting vital mental energy leaving you mentally and physically exhausted. Having a hard time concentrating on projects or work? A stressed brain shuts down the part of your brain called the prefrontal cortex, responsible for concentration and focus in order to better prepare you for the next yet unforeseen stressor coming down the pike. Chronic stress also depletes certain methylated B-vitamins, which can negatively impact neurotransmitter recycling and mood.

Here’s the good news.

We can make choices that build our emotional resilience. Here are some simple steps we are recommending to build our mental resiliency during quarantine.

Maintain a routine

The brain and body like routine. Keeping regular sleep and wake times stabilizes our mood and can help defend against depression and anxiety. Also, try showering, brushing your teeth and getting dressed for the day — even if you are just working from home. Wearing regular clothes, not just sweat pants, can go a long way toward boosting your mood.

Stay connected to what gives you meaning

For many of us, the bonds with our family and friends provide the deepest meaning. Our pets and our work can also provide profound meaning and comfort. Nurturing these connections is an antidote to trauma, so schedule a zoom dinner or happy hour, or add extra play time with your pets and children. Reach out to colleagues at work or friends and family through phone calls, text or FaceTime and zoom. Spending extra time playing with your loved ones will help offset negative feelings.

Set realistic goals

During times of high stress, it’s important to manage the expectations you place on yourself and others. Though you may find yourself with more free time than usual, it doesn’t mean you have to DO something with it. Who says you need to take on a new hobby or learn a new language? It’s ok, and probably healthier, to lower your expectations of productivity at this time. Focus instead on your core needs.

Give everyone a break, including you!

The stress of the pandemic affects people of all ages differently. We are also experiencing something called collective stress. Try giving people the benefit of the doubt and practice kindness. That means also being good to yourself.

Take good care of your body

Stay hydrated and eat well. Even mild dehydration can trigger issues with mood, concentration, headaches and fatigue. Eating processed foods that contain bad fats and excess sugar can contribute to mood issues by reducing serotonin production and using up our mood enhancing B vitamins. Eat a diet filled with colorful fruits and vegetables, clean meat, and drink at least 2 liters of filtered or spring water daily.

Keep moving. Studies have shown that 30 minutes of walking daily helps to mitigate depression and improve mood. Walking, sitting or exercising in the sun is even better. Get out and connect with nature.

Create a self-care tool kit. There are loads of things that can fit into this basket: Playing games with your family, practicing breath work, or meditation, learn how to use Tapping to shift mood and dampen anxiety, taking a bath or a nap, reading a book, watching a funny movie or television program or just practicing laughter all can help manage anxiety and improve mood.

As Colorado transitions from the more restricted shelter at home orders to the more relaxed safer at home measures, our anxiety and feelings of uncertainty are bound to be triggered. Visit Colorado.gov to learn more about what this means for you as these restrictions can vary by county and by city.

Luckily, the same tools that build resilience during quarantine can be used to manage stress during transition. In addition to applying these simple lifestyle recommendations, there are a number of nutraceuticals that can support emotional resilience.

Let’s work together to build an individualized program for you to support your mood, manage anxiety and improve your sleep so that you can thrive now and always.

We are here to help,

Drs. Amy Reidhead and Terri Fox

Using nasal rinses for COVID-19
prevention and allergy season

One great way to help prevent the seeding of a virus into the upper respiratory tract is by practicing nasal rinsing. Sinus rinses may help prevent viral infection, improve allergies and aid in neurodetoxification.

We recommend using the Neil Med saline system or a Neti pot at least twice per day. This process can help to clear out the days exposures to allergens, viruses and mucous. Think of it like flossing your nose.

Other things you can put up your nose:

Biocidin. Biocidin is an herbal combination with excellent anti-viral effects. You can add 5-10 drops in your saline solution for added protection against microbes. 
Ionized silver: We like Argentyn23. Intranasal silver has anti-microbial effects and is helpful at nipping any virus in the bud. 

Intranasal Glutathione: Compounded intranasal glutathione –there’s some great emerging data on glutathione as helpful to prevent the cytokine storm in COVID 19. And when you spray it up your nose, you have better access to you central nervous system – for neurodetoxification and brain healing. Great for brain fog too.
 
Probiotics: News, flash, your nose also has a microbiome ! My favorite way to support it is to dissolve MegaSporeBiotic by Microbiome Labs in distilled water overnight at room temperature and add this to your sinus rinse (with your salts or packets). 1 cap is enough for 3 sinus rinses. 
 
Nicatinomide Riboside (or RG3): This compounded nasal spray increases NAD which increases mitochondrial function. Incredible for fatigue, brain fog, neurodetoxification.
 
Clearing nasal passages may have far-reaching health affects beyond just viral and allergy support. A newly discovered part of the lymphatic system called the glymphatic system located in the nasal cavity detoxes the brain of neuro-inflammation and neurotoxins wile you sleep. 
 
Recent research suggest that improving sinus health and getting good sleep may be a key strategy for preventing all types of dementia.
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