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De-Stress The Covid Stress

by Rajgopal Nidamboor(more info)

listed in stress, originally published in issue 268 - February 2021


Republished from

Rajgopal Nidamboor


In today’s tempestuous COVID-19 milieu, stress has become far too invasive, unrelenting and menacing – primarily because it emanates first and foremost from psychological factors, just as much from physical fear. It also elevates our immediate reaction in certain situations on which we have no power. The incongruity in the COVID-19 distress is something unprecedented – unlike any in the past, where a certain amount of stress was evidenced to be beneficial for the body. This was, and is, the credo that facilitated our ancestors and assists our own primal ability to deal with most physical and emotional stressors.

In our tizzy, uneasy coronavirus-centric world, the nature of stress is not related to facing a grizzly marauder, or enemy attack on our fort, or defences, as it happened during times long gone by. The COVID-19 storm has brought in a plethora of health- and life-threatening cogs  – unlike anything in modern history. The resultant outcomes are not difficult to identify: blood clots, lung collapse, and heart attack, and, most importantly, a creepy vulnerability to the COVID-19 ‘terrorization.’


De-Stress the Covid Stress



From the time Hans Selye, a pioneer in stress research, defined stress as a “psycho-physiological (mind-body) event that takes place when our system is overwhelmed by any experience, physical, mental or emotional,” stress has only intensified – the difference being of degree, primarily because in today’s world the types of stress we face are not direct, or physical. Stress, in contemporary terms, is more often related to or caused by, emotional and psychological factors. So, you may well ‘ballpark’ that the ‘fight-or-flight’ response of yore may not be appropriate to our times. Put simply, stress, any which way you look at it, is a completely internal phenomenon – a reaction by our mind and body to tense events. In other words, it reflects how we see and deduce them.

Cortisol Effect

Most stress-related disorders are triggered by cortisol, the stress chemical. Our mind and body are ‘engineered’ to respond to stress by producing a glut of chemicals and hormones. When stress chemicals – cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine – are instantly launched into production by the adrenal glands, the pituitary gland responds. It pumps out other hormones and stirs up the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. This leads to the famed ‘fight-or-flight’ response – in a different sense. That’s ‘taking guard’ to deflecting the ‘threat.’ This is, indeed, a useful response because it equips us with the ability to swiftly respond to cardinal COVID-19 to-dos too – like staying at home, maintaining social distancing, following effective hygienic practices, and attending to body signals, or early symptoms, and so on.

Cortisol is not a dreadful agent, though – it is, like cholesterol, an important constituent of our body, performing significant functions. It plays a key role in the maintenance of adequate blood pressure; it also helps to release blood sugar for increased responsiveness during stress. When it is continually elevated, cortisol can, unfortunately, cause damaging effects in the body – including thinning of bones, fat deposits around the waist, diabetes, inflammation, and cancer, notwithstanding a balanced dietary regimen. In due course, it can lead to a weakened immune system. This can wobble the foundations of our body’s defence mechanisms while making us highly susceptible to a COVID-19 attack.

Smoking and alcohol, likewise, can elevate our cortisol levels; so also lack of exercise, insufficient sleep and sedentary lifestyle habits. This can, in turn, lead to continued stress and the creation of free radicals, which can cause, or heighten, chronic degenerative, or existing, disorders – viz., heart disease, diabetes, asthma, arthritis and cancer.

The big question is: what is the best thing one can do in the face of COVID-19 stress and distress? The common practice of reaching out for far too many cups of coffee, or tea, is not good – in reality, it is an invitation for trouble. Drinking 2-4 cups of coffee is fine, but repeated intake of the beverage can trigger a cortisol upsurge from normal levels. This escalation is often sustained for 48 hours. When there’s such a persistent spike in your cortisol levels, your blood sugar levels elevate. Your inflammatory patterns shoot up too –  this isn’t a healthy sign.

Exercise, meditation, relaxation techniques and visualization are healthy, useful methods. However, there is something that Mother Nature has that no other remedy can offer. The natural herb, in supplement form, is holy basil, or tulsi. Holy basil can help bring down your cortisol levels – without some of the adverse side-effects of prescription medications. Ashwagandha is, of course, too renowned for its stress-relieving, cortisol-calming and health-centric effects. Besides, make sure you take your multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D3, zinc and curcumin (turmeric). It is, however, required to get the right dosages – from a qualified medical professional.

This is one part. The other is just as imperative as any to ease the song of our COVID-19 burden.

Mindfulness Holds The Key

For most people who dig into and are engrossed on their ‘mindful consciousness’ and spiritual awareness, their resolve is obvious – to preserve and embrace the ‘divine in us,’ at all times. What does this suggest? That true consciousness, including what philosophers and physicians refer to as mindfulness, is the essential core of our entire being – a transcendent prism that epitomises the breath of life, aside from the syntax of all our feelings and emotions.

  1. Renew. You may have missed connecting to an old friend. It’s now time to (re)connect. This will help you to unwind and relaxwith the nostalgia element in place;
  2. Exercise. Exercise ‘ups’ our mental, emotional and physical health and wellness it pumps our body with endorphins, the feel-good chemicals. The best thing to do is to perform simple exercises that you are comfortable with. Not overdo. Or, try out something because someone recommends it. Alsoyou’d video-chat and seek guidance from a professional trainer, and keep at it, along with a healthy diet;
  3. Hobbies. Hobbies ease our monotony, especially during lockdowns. They also provide a ‘no-pill’ way of spending quality time with family and loved ones;
  4. Feel blessed. Write notes of gratitude. Leave a ‘thank you’ cardfor your milkman and the grocer, among others. Make a fresh cup of coffee, or herbal tea, for a loved one, or parent;
  5. Help with the household chores. Or, prepare a new, exotic dish for your family. Do everything you can. Try to help someone in need, especially a neighbour, the elderly, or have a jolly good telephonic/video chat with a friend or old colleague. In stressful times, empathy goes a long way;
  6. Rediscover the child in you. Go back to your childhood’s most favourite movie, or grandma’s bedtime story that quietly ‘hypnotized’ you to sleep. Or, a game you loved. Or, a song you treasured. Or, mindfully ‘embrace’ the things that brought you happiness. There’s an unusual delight in stepping back in time;
  7. Watch a comedy. From the good, old Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, or the latest slapstick you know. Or, a delightful comedy in the local language;
  8. Read a laugh riot book. From the timeless PG Wodehouse, Mark Twain, Erma Bombeck, or any in the humorous genre, aside from your own favourite local author;
  9. Keep a diary. Daily synopses are good. They will let you know a new you, long after the coronavirus ‘horribilis’ is over;
  10. Croon a new song every day – it will sound sweet to you and alleviate your COVID-19 ‘blues.’ Or, listen to soft, soulful music. Music, according to mind-body physicians and therapists, is nothing short of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It allows sound frequencies to balance resonant energies in your heart, lungs, nervous system, muscles, organs, tissues, cells, your mind, thoughts, and also feelings. You get the point. The next time you listen to music, try to scan the tangible and intangible workings of your mind and body. You’ll not only quickly feel in sync with your entire being; you’ll also feel well and melodiously, or vibrantly, transformed.

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Acknowledgement Citation

Republished from

by Rajgopal Nidamboor


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About Rajgopal Nidamboor

Rajgopal Nidamboor PhD FCCP M-CAM is a Board-Certified wellness physician, Fellow of the College of Chest Physicians (FCCP), Member of the Center of Applied Medicine (M-CAM), writer-editor, commentator, critic, columnist, author, and publisher. His special interests include natural health and wellness, mind-body/integrative medicine, nutritional medicine, psychology, philosophy, and spirituality. His focus areas also encompass contemporary research and dissemination of dependable information for people concerned about their health. He feels that it is increasingly gratifying to see most individuals, including physicians, thinking outside the box – especially in areas such as natural health, where the body knows best to heal itself from the inside out. His published work includes hundreds of newspaper, magazine, Web articles, four books on natural health, two coffee-table books, a handful of E-books, a primer on therapeutics, and, most recently, Cricket Odyssey. He’s Chief Wellness Officer, Docco360, a mobile health application/platform, connecting patients with Ayurveda, homeopathic, Unani physicians, and nutrition therapists, among others, from the comfort of their home — and, Editor-in-Chief, ThinkWellness360.  Rajgopal Nidamboor lives in Navi Mumbai, India. He may be contacted via 

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