Wellness During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Fairmont Banff Springs in Alberta, Canada. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)
Fairmont Banff Springs in Alberta, Canada. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” -Bil Keane (American cartoonist)

As you know pandemic coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new virus. COVID-19 has changed our lives and put our dreams on hold.

People are in quarantine and isolation.

What does quarantine mean? Quarantine sequesters healthy, asymptomatic people exposed to an infectious disease for the duration of the incubation period, to contain the spread of the disease (Canadian Medical Association Journal – CMAJ March 20, 2020). Example: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was exposed and is asymptomatic, is under voluntary quarantine.

In contrast, isolation refers to separating patients with active infection from healthy, unexposed people, to prevent transmission. Example: Prime Minister’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau.

Quarantines are enforceable under the Canadian Quarantine Act. This law dates to the 1870s and was updated in 2005 after the SARS outbreak. It allows the federal health minister to enact measures ranging from screenings to mandatory quarantines at Canadian borders.

Quarantines may be necessary but can create hardship for individuals. Quarantine may cause adverse psychological effects. Some people quarantined in Toronto during the SARS outbreak had symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder and depression, says the CMAJ article.

Quarantine brings financial hardship and stigmatization. To promote compliance, quarantined people need ongoing access to resource materials, open lines of communication and psychosocial support. Is that possible?

In the current environment, I doubt if there is anybody who is not worried or stressed. This can affect your general health.

Stress can make your heart pound, your belly ache, and your palms sweat. Stress increases the level of hormone cortisol. This can lead to increased hunger and binge eating. This can lead to obesity.

Other possibility is depression sets in and you may lose your desire to eat and start losing weight.

There are many ways to stay connected with your friends and family. Thanks to our technological advances we have cell phones, laptops, computers which keep us connected. We can send man to moon but unfortunately cannot prevent common cold or get immediate control of COVID-19. I guess, that is life. We will win this battle as well. Be optimistic.

There are many ways to keep yourself busy during this time of stress. Probably you have already figured it out. Children are not at school. Most of the adults are not at work. How do you stay busy?

I divide the day into three segment of three hours each. Three hours in the morning, three hours in the afternoon and three hours in the evening. About couple of hours are allotted in between each segment for nutrition and family time and some TV.

How do you utilise three-hour segments?

That all depends on your interest. If you are doing your office and business work from home then you have to allow enough time for that. You have to allow time to spend with your family and keep them active and entertained. You have to have time for yourself with yoga (if that is your interest), exercise, and meditation. There are many other options. Too many to mention here. Important thing is to prevent boredom.

Make a list of all the things you always wanted to do but were too busy to do before our lives changed. Stock up on healthy snacks. And let us hope for the best.

We all need good luck. So here it is from me to you! Stay safe.

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