"Love in the Time of Corona"
London (CNN): “This pandemic risks bringing out the worst in humanity.”
Governments and the medical fraternity are focused on educating the community about the precautions required to physically protect against the risk of contracting COVID-19.
However, of equal importance is education about how to protect ourselves against the harm that increased stress resulting from feelings of fear, uncertainty and a lack of control can have on both our mental and physical health.
Stressed brains release excessive amounts of the hormone cortisol which weakens our immune system by decreasing the white blood cells that help fight infection, increasing our susceptibility to viruses.
High levels of cortisol also reduce the uptake of our ‘happy hormones’, serotonin and oxytocin, opening the gate for anxiety and depression. Our sleep hormone melatonin decreases. Less sleep leads to irritability and reduced cognitive performance.
Additionally, anti-social ‘me first’ and ‘us versus them’ behaviours increase as our capacity for empathy declines.
Reality checking our fear, staying focused on the facts not the media hype, keeping our sense of humour and staying kind, are protective mental, physical and social mechanisms for ourselves and those around us at this challenging time.