How to keep Calm and Carry on in the face of the hysteria about the Coronavirus

We have a Christmas party every year and last December, quite of few of our guests had to leave early because they were suffering from the seasonal flu. This was all before the outbreak of the Coronavirus. I can’t imagine having a party now, not to mention allowing people to attend when they have the flu. Life as we knew it seems a dim and distant past. Now, we are all scared out of our wits and social distancing. A sneeze is enough to banish your nearest and dearest into self-isolation. Coronavirus well and truly has us in its grip and the cost to the global economy with travel bans and countries in lock down is mounting as per this BBC report.

It is therefore understandable that people are losing their heads, and the 24-hour TV pandemic news is not exactly going to help steady nerves. For organisations wondering what to do help their employees and to maintain productivity, this is the time to help them prioritise their wellbeing.

What you need to know about a viral infection

Treatment of viral infections involves treating symptoms not the virus while the infection runs its course. In some cases, antiviral medications may be used but for the coronavirus there isn’t one yet. That is the bad news out of the way.

The good news is; the body is equipped to deal with viral infections via the immune system. According to the British Society of Immunology the body has three immune responses to a virus:

  1. Infected cells have a way of displaying that information to the immune system’s T-cells to detect and destroy them.
  2. Infected cells also produce a protein (interferon) that prevents the virus from replicating inside it. They also allow infected cells to warn nearby cells so that they can increase their signalling to the immune system to destroy infected cells.
  3. Viruses can also be removed from the body by antibodies before they get a chance to infect the cells.

All in all, the body does a good job of protecting itself and limiting the damage of a viral infection. We are not defenceless, but we must prop up the immune system and ensure that it is not compromised, so that it can do its job properly in the event of an attack. Having a robust immune system will ensure that your body acts as a hostile environment to the virus.

How to boost your immune system

There is no secret or magic potion to boost your immune system. All you need to do is just take care of your wellbeing and it must be a holistic affair. You need take care of your wellbeing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Stress can wreak havoc with your immune system just like lack of exercise or poor nutrition. Good lifestyle choices will stand you in good stead.

7 things you can do to boost your immune system

  1. Exercise

150 minutes of exercise a week is the recommended minimum. This is only 30 minutes a day Monday to Friday. We can all build this into our lives. Gyms are now seen easy places to catch the virus, so why not try going for a walk or a run in woods? You might never go back indoors again.

  1. Sleep

The recommendation is 8-9 hours a night. Prioritise this and give your body a chance to do its housekeeping and repair work while you sleep.

  1. Nutrition

Eat whole foods, cut out sugar and processed foods wherever possible. The supermarkets shelves are all empty of canned foods. If we should be doubling up on anything we should be doubling up on wholefoods. This is the time to be eating nutrient dense foods and staying away from processed foods. You want to give your body a fighting chance by loading up on fresh fruit and vegetables.

  1. Hydration

2 litres a day of water to keep you hydrated and to help flush toxins out of your system. If you find plain water boring, try herbal tea, but make sure it does not contain caffeine.

  1. Stress

This is a stressful time. We are all having to cope with uncertainty, and anxiety is riding high. Stay away from the stressful situations that you have control of. For the ones that are out of your control, make sure you find a release for them, for example; exercising or discussing it with someone. Engage in stress reducing activities like mindfulness or meditation or doing something fun.

  1. Meditation and mindfulness

If you are new to meditation find a simple technique that you connect with and start practising it daily. If you are an experienced meditator, do not let the stress and uncertainty of what is going on pull you away from your practice. This is the time to prioritise your meditation and any mindfulness practice like gratitude journaling.

  1. Stay positive.

Stay away from the 24-hour news loop. Focus on the positive. Focus on what is in your control. You do not want to trigger your fight or flight responses by catastrophising.

The Coronavirus is here, it is not the first time your body might have to deal with a virus, and it will not be the last. Have faith in your body’s mechanisms of dealing with a viral infection and do your best to support your immune system, focus on the positive and you will ride out this wave.