Coronavirus Stress Blamed for Overeating and Increased Alcohol Use
By Roni DeLuz ND, RN, Ph.D
We’re faced with a worldwide pandemic where not only cities, but entire countries are in lock-down due to COVID-19, known as Coronavirus. Fears about Coronavirus can take an emotional toll on a lot of people especially those who already have anxiety disorders.
Stress can lead to different physical and psychological problems that include headaches, high blood pressure, and heart problems. Psychological effects include feeling overwhelmed, not being able to relax and having low self-esteem or feeling lonely. During stress conditions, the body produces the cortisol hormone. This hormone can influence the cognitive process and affects the brain’s function to make logical decisions, like using food and alcohol for comfort measures.
During short term stress conditions, cortisol provides glucose by breaking down proteins in the body. This glucose provides energy to fight a stressor. But if the stress condition persists, an increased blood sugar level is the consequence increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and weight gain. This production of cortisol leads to weight gain through visceral fat storage.
During this stressful time some studies are reporting that alcohol use has increased by 40% which is alarming.
It is important to adopt healthy habits instead of leaning towards unhealthy ones to boost our immunity and overall health during this time. Therefore, it is very important to combat this stress and find ways to battle it.
5 Ways To Help with Stress
4 Delicious Snacks to Reduce Stress:
Comfort food can help tame stress levels by releasing serotonin that calms the brain. Some foods suppress cortisol and adrenaline and relax the body. The following snacks can alleviate stress and boost immunity. Foods like avocado on veggie sticks, almond butter on carrot sticks, a small bowl of raw small pieces of cauliflower, broccoli, cucumber, dried berries like raspberries, blackberries, Goji berries. These complex carbohydrate foods are energy producing and help to decreases stress. The best protein snacks like almonds and pistachios are vitamin and mineral rich to help reduce stress.
3 Herbal Supplements that Reduce Stress:
Many herbs have proven to fight stress. St. John’s wort that has shown results in people with mild to moderate stress and it also helps with symptoms of anxiety and depression. Valerian root is another herb that has a calming effect on the body. Ashwagandha is the herb that has been proven to have a calming effect without overstimulating the body.
Eucalyptus Breathing Exercise:
Add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil on a cloth and breathe 5 times deep before starting:
• Start by sitting in a comfortable position or lying down on any flat surface.
• Relax and fix your shoulders by rolling until comfortable.
• Put a hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
• Take a deep breath through the nose and hold for two seconds.
• Purse your lips and press on your abdomen and exhale slowly.
For best results, repeat the whole process several times and you will feel relaxed.
Meditation has far-reaching and long-lasting benefits for those who practice it for long periods. It is a simple procedure of paying attention to your breathing and concentrating on just breathing and nothing else.
• Get to a comfortable place as you’ll be sitting still for a few minutes. Focus on your inhalation and exhalation processes.
• Focus on where and when you feel the air enter and leave your body. Concentrate on just breathing deeply without thinking of anything else.
• Follow your breath for a few minutes. Breathe in through the nose and feel your belly expand and then your chest as the air leaves it.
• Continue to notice the breath and continue to favor the breath
• Connect with the sound of the breath. Hear in the breath SO-HUM.
• Continue to rest in the sound of SO-HUM.
• From time to time your attention may drift, simply go back to the sound of the breath.
• If you start to feel any emotion of sadness or a certain mood again simply favor the sound of breath and SO-HUM.
• To end the meditation, rest in silence for 2 minutes while you are allowing your breath to lengthen and deepen bringing the awareness to the body then open your eyes slowly with a smile.
Not Only Quality but Quantity Sleep:
Sleep deficit and stress are very closely related. It is very important to improve the quality of sleep as your body repairs itself during the process. Sleep deprivation has adverse effects on the body which include weight gain and accelerated aging. It is very important to get 7-8 hours of sleep to be fully rested and to tackle your tasks for the new day. If you feel irritable and tired mid-day learn to take power naps or meditate.
During this pandemic, it has become more important than ever that we take care of our health by healthy snacking, breathing better, meditating and sleeping more to help fight stress and boost our immunity. Learn more at www.drronideluz.com.