What Covid Isolation Is Doing To You
Among the many challenges the COVID-19 pandemic presented to us as Americans, one of the most troublesome is the negative impact of the isolation so many people have experienced for so long. Workplaces have closed, causing employees to work remotely from home. While most secondary schools have started in-person instruction in Florida, most college students are still taking their classes online. People who have been exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 have had to quarantine. Some people have had multiple exposures, causing those persons to self-isolate multiple times.
Fear of exposure to this highly contagious virus still keeps many people night and day inside their homes. Many others still limit their out-of-home ventures to buying groceries and going to healthcare appointments. A full year into the pandemic, many still have not had social interaction with friends or family. While I am in no way minimizing the national tragedy of losing so many Americans to this deadly virus, it is important to consider the tolls that pandemic fear and isolation have taken on our health, from a holistic perspective.
Many of us have lived in an extended, perpetual state of heightened fear of contracting COVID-19. In acupuncture, excess fear imbalances our Water Element. Living in fear over any lengthy period has negative effects on our physical and emotional wellbeing. Physically, our kidneys and adrenal glands get overwhelmed, leading to adrenal fatigue. Mentally, your mind gets preoccupied with worry (which imbalances the Earth Element) and fear-based (imbalanced Water) thinking which drains your vital Qi energy.
Chronic pandemic stress goes beyond fear of Covid-19 exposure. The economy during the pandemic has negatively impacted many people’s work and income. Financial stress has greatly increased this past year. We all react differently to these stressors. Many of our citizens have grown frustrated (which imbalances Wood) with how others react to this public health crisis. Our people have become more divided and intolerant in the last year than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime.
Although many people have kept in contact through the internet and phone, it does not take the place of being in physical contact with each other. There is really no substitute for touching, hugging, and being together, face to face. This lack of physical contact really depletes our Fire Element. Fire needs warmth and enjoyment, and it relies on social interaction with friends and family. Fire also needs the warmth and radiant energy of the sun. Staying indoors, we lose our natural source of vitamin D. We need sunshine (Fire) and fresh air (Metal) to replenish our Qi energy. Isolation from our social networks also cuts us off from connecting deeply on a physical level with others, which imbalances our Metal Element. The pandemic isolation has had a negative impact on all our Five Elements.
When the pandemic started, the medical community was not equipped to handle the growing caseload of seriously ill patients. It was necessary to lock down and take all reasonable anti-viral precautions to prevent overrun hospital ICUs and even more catastrophic deaths. Isolating was a crucial part of the fight in this public health crisis. It helped to buy our medical community the time it needed to respond effectively.
Many people have survived COVID-19 and developed natural immunity. Many more of our brave citizens have received vaccines. This has lowered the threat of hospitals overrun with record numbers of gravely ill COVID-19 patients. By and large, doctors are no longer afraid of our medical system being overwhelmed by this pandemic. It is important we get this message out from our medical community to all our citizens.
Elderly and people with co-morbidities who run a high risk of getting a severe case of COVID-19 have already had the opportunity to be vaccinated. The vaccines are working well, even against the new variants of the virus. Our doctors are much better prepared to successfully treat people hospitalized with COVID-19, and drug treatments are more effective against the virus than 6 months ago.
The CDC has issued new guidelines for how vaccinated people can safely visit with people, whether others have been vaccinated or not. While taking precautions in public – like wearing a mask – is still recommended, the fears behind the need for isolation have dropped. People can safely gather in small groups indoors without masks, so long as no one in the group is considered high risk for a severe case of COVID-19. As we get closer to herd immunity through vaccination over the next few months, life will gradually return to our “new normal”.
The viral outbreak in the Jacksonville area has essentially stabilized, and our community is getting safer and safer from Covid-19. But after a year of social distancing, mask-wearing, and isolating, the idea of readjusting to in-person socializing can create more fear. I understand that many people are still apprehensive. At this point, the mental health benefits of becoming more social outweigh the risks of getting a bad case of the virus, but only if we use good common sense.
Getting back to socializing can be like getting back into the pool in the spring: you must do it one step at a time, like putting your toes in the water before you jump in head-first. I highly recommend you take time this spring to get outside with friends and family as much as possible. Enjoy our fantastic Florida weather.
For your mental and emotional wellbeing, begin to safely visit with friends and family indoors as well. If you have any specific questions about these new recommendations, I invite you to reach out to me at the Acupuncture & Holistic Health Center, at (904) 296-9545. As always, I am here for your holistic healthcare needs. Here’s to your health, in body, mind, and spirit!