These are frightening times. In my office, I talk with so many people who are unsettled and increasingly nervous about this virus. Many are confused and wonder how we can best survive this pandemic.
We are told everyday about the new cases, here in Hawaii and all across the country. We are told that the cases are showing more and more people under the age of 50 testing positive. We are told that any social interaction increases our exposure, and that opening up our economy is greatly increasing the case numbers. If you are frightened you are not alone.
Fear is an insidious emotion. Fear gets a foothold and can cause us to feel increasingly vulnerable; it can play off other circumstances and make us feel as though everything we do puts us at risk. Fear can lead to anger and emotional outbursts. A fearful person is often an angry person.
The thing about fear is that it is not dependent on facts, and sometimes – even in the face of facts – fear will continue on, demanding that it has a place in our lives. Think about it… the person who is deadly afraid of spiders doesn’t care that most spiders are not poisonous, or how big the spider is, or factor in that we can easily outrun or smash a spider. Fear is like an electrical jolt that causes an immediate reaction.
This is why the campaign of fear-based reporting on the COVID-19 virus makes me so frustrated. Our media, and even our government, lead every story with the most dramatic/most fearful/most detrimental possibility. We don’t hear much about the very real/very statistical low death rate (in relation to other illnesses) – what we hear about is how quickly and easily this virus spreads. We don’t hear much about the things we can do to strengthen our immune function which would benefit every citizen (the low risk and especially the high risk individuals) – what we hear is that if we don’t continue to severely limit our daily activities and stay apart from other people we will get the virus or unwittingly spread it to others. We don’t hear specific statistics on COVID cases – how many are asymptomatic? (no symptoms at all), how many are mild?, how many are able to convalesce at home?, how many actually need to be hospitalized? – these statistics would greatly reduce the panic and fear that many people are feeling.
For this reason, I would like to end this letter with good news and encouragement that will hopefully allow the people who have had unsettled hopeless feelings to have a rope to hang on to, and a plan to move away from fear toward a more realistic path to health and happiness.
It is important for all of us to take personal responsibility for our health status and take actions that will allow our bodies to build natural resistance and vitality. This is NOT mumbo-jumbo – this is foundational health 101. We all need to recognize that health does not come in a form of a prescription – even though we understand that prescriptions are sometimes necessary to get through a health crisis – a prescription does not make you healthy. Tune your ear to the drug commercials on television. You will notice that most of them will caution you against use if you have an infection. Yep – those drugs lower your immune function. Now… recognize how many people who have suffered from severe reactions to Covid 19 might have been on those drugs for other ailments. This understanding gives us a deeper grasp of how and why people have such different reactions to this virus.
So, here are some easy things everyone can do to boost immune function: Base your diet on vegetables – every meal, try to make sure the plate has as many vegetables as other things on the plate; Reduce sugars; Avoid sodas and sugar based drinks; Avoid artificial sweeteners and additives; Get regular exposure to sunlight and fresh air, Partake in balanced exercise (walk, swim, run); Make sure you give yourself proper rest; Have fun and count your blessings first thing when you wake and before you go to sleep every night. These things and other recommendations can be specifically tailored for the individual by a preventive healthcare specialist. I, myself, take certain high-quality supplements to boost immune function and support any weak systems.
To be clear, I realize that none of that was ground breaking information. Your grandmother probably told you to do most of those things. All of the things listed above have documented scientific positive effects on your immune function (with more powerful effects than washing your hands or wearing a mask). When we reduce the stress load on our bodies physically/chemically/and mentally, our bodies can function at a higher level. Think of those health habits like taking bricks out of your back pack. Without those stresses, your body can take every step, every breath, and every thought without as much effort.
If we all feel like we can face the world with a stronger and healthier body and mental attitude, we will be able to open up our economy and go back to full rich lives again. With more information we can reject fear. We want to respect and support those who have high risk, put practices in place that will protect those who need it, and get our businesses open and thriving.
Michele Dillberg is a resident of Koloa.