WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Between the concerns over the coronavirus and all of the changes society has been forced to undertake because of it, stress levels are up for many.
Lucinda DeMarco, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for UnitedHealthcare of North Carolina, said managing stress is especially important for those who have an underlying medical condition that makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19.
“Stress will lower your immunity and your resistance, so that will allow anything and everything to walk in the door and if you have a chronic condition it will be even worse,” she said.
Dr. DeMarco says there are signs to look for that will tell you if the stress is getting to you.
“If you are seeing changes in your eating habits, changes in your sleeping habits, changes where you’re using, my word is ‘vices,’ but augmentative things to to get away from your stress, for example you’re smoking or you’re drinking more, you need to really sit back and think what is going on and why is this really playing on my mind so much,” she said. “I think one of the things that I’ve noticed, and particularly in our seniors, is that all people are doing day in and day out is sitting in front of the tube watching about the coronavirus.”
She advises people to stay informed but be sure to take a break.
That’s why she recommends getting outside and get some exercise.
“Get outside and even if you’re not doing that whole routine that you did at the gym, go on a walk,” she said. “Because you’re not really going to run into a ton of people walking. The air outside is good for you; the sun is good for you. And also, doing that walk helps you release endorphins and it makes you feel better."
She said being outdoors can boost your mood and bust your stress.
“If you’re building up stress like that it will lead to depression,” she said. “There are lots of things you can do on your iPhone or computer or TV with mindfulness and meditation and those things but really and truly I think it’s better for everybody to get outside. Send the kids outside to play. They’re getting on your nerves anyway so you might as well do that and do what you can do as far as their education goes. But there’s a lot to learn outside to you can teach them things outside that they wouldn’t be learning in a classroom or inside too.”
Dr. Demarco’s other advice includes staying connected with your friends and family on video calls. She recognizes it may not be the same as seeing them in person, but at least it is something.