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Stress Management is Important for Handling Corona and Yoga Shows the Way

After one year of covid 19 experience how wise we are to handle and manage the virus?  Going with what the experts and studies have been emphasising, it is all in the mind-how to avoid corona and how to handle corona virus?

One year of pandemic has visibly been the year of anxieties and stress. Not only the virus related but the subsequent effect of it. With no cure yet the virus continues to play truants but one year of covid 19 has definitely taught us how it is important to change our perception for this virus and many more viruses which might create havoc in the future.

Experts have been emphasising on how covid 19 has triggered anxieties and stress in general and how the anxiety and fear make us vulnerable for the virus. Experts have been pointing out why it is important to be mentally strong to handle covid 19 situation.

There have been certain conclusive studies of how we can control the virus by controlling the anxiety and fear for corona virus. If that is so can we protect ourselves from corona virus or deal with it by controlling our anxieties and fear for covid 19?  So, do we have the key to cure corona virus?

Does this also mean anything which help managing anxiety and stress can help in dealing with covid 19 pandemic, like Yoga? Probably yes!

According to Jennifer J. Heisz, Associate Professor, McMaster University, psychological impact of covid 19 pandemic is causing incredible impact.  She has written in a paper that, “if you are worried about corona you may be putting yourself at undue risk because anxiety supresses the immune system and increases our risk for infection”.

Research have shown that the mere suggestion of danger, even if it is never experienced, is enough to hyperactivate the fear centre in the brain (called amyldia). This acts as a trigger-happy alarm to keep our body and mind on high alert by keeping us anxious.

Anxiety affects Immune system making us vulnerable for Corona virus

The problem with this anxiety about unknown (like corona virus) is that chronic activation of the stress system can damage our cells and upset many of the body’s functions. The biggest harm is to our immune system making us vulnerable for the infections in such times like covid 19. According to Jennifer J. Heisz this may increase our risk for infection with SARS-CoV-2, the corona virus that causes COVID-19. 

The immune system acts like border security, patrolling the body for cells that are foreign and harmful to it. Chronic over-worrying about COVID-19 can intensify our vulnerability to viruses by creating an imbalance in immune function.

This is because the immune system reacts to multiple breaches in immunity in a similar way that airport security reacts to multiple breaches in safety, by escalating the response.

Excessive anxiety about COVID-19 can trigger an immune response that increases inflammation and readies the immune system’s equivalent of special forces, known as inflammasomes.

Jennifer J. Heisz has demonstrated in her lab how quickly the human health declines under chronic stress. “We tracked sedentary but otherwise healthy students during the weeks leading up to their final exams, and we observed how six weeks of stress gave rise to the symptoms of depression”, she has concluded in her paper.

Does it mean we can keep corona at bay and also cure it faster by effective immune system? Immunity of the host is an essential requisite to facilitate the eradication of infections. Available evidence indicates that stress modulates immune competence through immunosuppression, upper respiratory tract infection, and wound healing time, indicating that stress causes a significant immune response dysfunction.

How Yoga can help alliviate Corona Virus by checking anxiety and stress?

Frequent representation of elderly individuals in the COVID-19-infected cases indicates the plausible role of immunosenescence underlying their vulnerability to the infection. The severity and outcome of the viral infection could be either an outcome of an effective cellular/innate immune response that combats SARS-CoV-2 as observed in the patients with mild clinical signs of infection or a state of immunosuppression that debilitates and sometimes overwhelms the host’s defence.

Several evidences indicate that yoga might influence chronic inflammatory state and might optimize impaired immune function in stress-induced conditions. The practice of yoga might aid in reducing the exacerbations and clearance of virus infection in COVID-19 patients with diabetes through reducing the influence of systemic hyperglycemic and inflammatory milieu.

Innate immunity is needed for precise regulation to eliminate the virus, otherwise will result in immunopathology. A randomized controlled study in non-stressed young healthy students showed a significant increase in interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) levels (a central regulator of cell-mediated immunity, having antiviral, immune-regulatory functions) in the yoga group as compared to students who did not do yoga.

Yoga and meditation, in particular slow deep breathing, have been reported to decrease sympathetic nervous system activity, and increase the baroreflex sensitivity in hypertensive patients, thereby reducing their blood pressure values.

Hence, yoga/slow breathing techniques could provide a safe adjunct/complementary approach for the management of hypertension in COVID-19 patients with hypertension.

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