COVID-19 from a Chinese medicine perspective
COVID-19 is a virus, and viruses are characterized in Chinese medicine as an external wind-cold disease. That means that the virus travels from outside the body through the air, or wind, into the body through the nose or mouth. Viruses are cold in nature. This is often why after someone is exposed to a virus they will feel cold or want to bundle up and avoid cold air or wind. Often, the back of the neck, head, and shoulders will feel stiff as the acupuncture pathways associated with protecting the body’s wei qi, or defensive energy, are activated.
COVID-19: The Fear Virus
COVID-19 has been referred to as “the fear virus”. The unknowns surrounding the COVID-19 have brought up a number of fears for many people. How long will it last? Will they get sick? Will they lose a loved one? What if they lose their job? Will they have to close their business? Can they support their family? Will they ever get to hug their family and friends again? The questions can be limitless and spiral into a scary place.
Choose your antidote to fear
Fear cannot exist in the presence of a stronger positive feeling, like love, hope, faith or calm. If the idea of hope makes your heart sing, consider this powerful quotation from Maya Angelou: “Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Invite one of them to stay”. If you are a religious person, you might resonate with the quote from the Bible: “Faith and fear cannot exist together”. People who meditate know that calm and fear cannot be felt at the same time. Choose the positive feeling that resonates with you the most. Find time every day, or even every hour if needed, to invite that feeling into your consciousness. Be still and let yourself embody it.
Tips to stay strong during the COVID-19 pandemic
Keep yourself warm
Keep yourself warm and avoid cold, drafty environments. Many people in Asian and European countries will wear a scarf around their neck, even in warm weather, to protect their bodies from viruses and help keep the more vulnerable areas of the body warm.
This is a great time to be outside in the warm sunlight. In addition to keeping the body warm, sunlight provides a natural form of Vitamin D which has been shown to promote respiratory health. Read about the science behind this in two recent articles:
“Vitamin D and respiratory health” from the National Institutes of Health United States National Library of Medicine
“Vitamin D linked to COVID-19 mortality” from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin
Gentle exercise also warms the body. Taking a walk outside every day is a great way to get sunlight and exercise, which have a variety of health benefits. Two great articles on the benefits of walking outside every day are: “Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health” from the Mayo Clinic, and “The Amazing Health Benefits Of Walking Outside Every Day” from Prevention magazine.
Plentiful, quality sleep gives our bodies the chance to deeply restore. Getting to sleep before 10pm gives the body’s energetic pathways the time and ability to relax and allow for the protective and defensive energy to strengthen and circulate through the body. Be sure to remove electronics from the bedroom. Make sure the room is dark. Light, even the blue light from electronics, can send a signal to the body that it is morning and time to wake up.
Eat on a regular schedule, and focus on foods that are warming rather than cooling. Warm foods refer to cooked foods and nourishing foods like warm oatmeal, broths, soups and casseroles. Cold foods, which should be avoided when possible, include foods that are physically cold like ice cream, juices, smoothies, and salads. This also includes food that is energetically cold like raw foods, dairy, and sugar. These cold foods require warm energy from the body to be digested. This takes resources away from the body’s defensive energetic system and the ability to protect itself.
How to thrive with social distancing during COVID-19
Social distancing can be very disruptive and stressful. One simple way to adapt to social distancing is to create a new routine. This calms the body and nervous system, and lets the body know that there is predictability and that the body will be fed, rested and cared for. Doing things like setting consistent mealtimes and going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day can be tremendously beneficial.
Social distancing can create and foster loneliness, which has been shown to negatively impact the immune system. It is critical now more than ever to counter potential loneliness and keep immunity strong. Consider using this time to rekindle and strengthen relationships by reaching out to people through technology. Technology options include: Facetime, Zoom, Google hangouts, E-mails and even just picking up the phone to call someone. People will appreciate the thought, and many people are reporting that they are loving having the time to connect with loved ones more regularly.
In this time of change and the slowing down of our busy world, consider any or all of these tips to make some positive changes in your own life to cultivate long-term health and wellness.
About the Author
Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca.
About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC
HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.