FOR MIND BODY MEDICINE AT MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL

For Mind Body Medicine
at Massachusetts General Hospital

Calm in the Time of Coronavirus

Calm in the Time of Coronavirus

Caution and concern rule the day in the time of Coronavirus, as well it should.  But as we work together to prevent the spread of the virus and protect ourselves and our families form infection, there are ways we can both manage our stress and boost our self-care.

“The way I think of it is, if you’re going to be Purell-ing your hands all the time – or as you are washing your hands throughout the day – you can actually practice meditation,” says BHI Medical Director Darshan Mehta, MD.  “Hand washing or use of hand sanitizer is a perfect cue to do a mini relaxation.  While you are moving your hands together, you are counting and breathing deeply, so this gives you both the benefits of fighting off the virus and the internal benefit of knowing that you are taking care of yourself.”

The news about Coronavirus (aka COVID-19) can be overwhelming, Dr. Mehta says.  It has proven highly contagious with a rapid global transmission; many businesses have been affected and people are more and more cancelling trips and large gatherings, self-quarantining and working from home.

The best way to approach these uncertain times is to be practical, Dr. Mehta said.

“Follow trusted scientific sources like the Centers for Disease Control instead of social media or cable news,” Dr. Mehta said.  “And be practical: if you’re in an area where there are a lot of new cases of the virus, ask yourself, ‘Is there a way I can meet with people in a different way right now? Can I work from home or connect via Skype or Zoom?’”

Maintaining social support and avoiding isolation is a resilient response to the virus, Dr. Mehta says.  Even if you are quarantined, you can continue to stay connected with your friends, neighbors, coworkers etc. through modern technology.

We can also increase our ability to fight off the disease by maintaining personal health. Maintaining healthy eating habits, getting good sleep each night and exercising regularly can boost our immune systems and improve our ability to fight the virus.  While you may find the need to adapt some habits – perhaps working out at home instead of a gym or at the very least carrying sanitizing wipes to clean equipment – we can continue to maintain emotional equilibrium.

“Yes, this is a scary thing, but we can still do many things to optimize our health and wellbeing and we can still enjoy life,” Dr. Mehta said.