How the Pandemic is Wrecking Your Mind and Body

Aside from the pandemic’s detrimental effects, in the last year, the social isolation that it led to has left many people with a host of health concerns. 

Due to circumstances outside of your control, this past year may be slowly wearing away at your health as social isolation continues to be our number one defense against COVID. 

Everything from emotional upheaval to physical ailments has shown a widespread increase since the beginning of the pandemic. Research shows that people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds are being affected. 

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • The devastating impact that social isolation is having on your mind and body
  • How your screen time may be making you age faster
  • What the quarantine-15 is really doing to your body
  • Why you need to pay attention to those aches and pain
  • How to reclaim your health, energy, and mood
  • The fastest way to get back on track

How The Pandemic Is Affecting Your Body

It’s been almost a year since the coronavirus was officially declared to be a global pandemic, and it seems in the past 12 months our lives have been turned upside-down as these unprecedented times have challenged us to find new ways of interacting with the world. 

When once your children could go out and play with the neighbors after school, they’re now stuck inside glued to their computer screens from morning until night. The Thursday night happy hour with your friends and coworkers has turned into a zoom call or a glass of wine in front of the TV. Family gatherings have become a thing of the past as your family’s elderly members are too at risk to join in. And the list goes on.

The stress and frustration of the pandemic are palpable, but beyond these apparent drawbacks, there are even more subtle and insidious ways that the pandemic is impacting your physical and emotional health. If you’re like many people, you may not even be aware of the consequences of this last year, but research shows that the pandemic may be impacting your health in the following ways: 

Poor Sleep

Many people are finding that in the last year, their sleep quality has taken a significant hit. The most obvious reason for this is stress, but inactivity and increased screen time may also play a role. 

When you sit in front of your screen all day, the blue light that’s emitted from your device can interrupt your natural production of melatonin — the sleep hormone that helps you to shut down your brain at night[1]. What’s more, the EMFs emitted from the devices in your home like your WiFi, computer, phones, and Smart electronics has the same effect — which could make sleep issues even worse[2]. 

Research also shows that exercise can have a direct impact on your sleep quality[3]. When you move more during the day, it leads to a better night of sleep. Since many people are stuck indoors with no outlet like the gym, a cycling class, or even the ability to play catch in the park, overall physical activity has plummeted for most people, and as a result, sleep disturbances have escalated[4]. 

Aside from the sluggish, brain-fogged, and fatigued feeling you get after a poor night’s sleep, sleep disturbances put you at risk for some serious medical conditions. Some examples include obesity, heart disease, and diabetes — along with a shortened life expectancy[5]. 

Weight Gain

If you’ve put on a few extra pounds in the last year, you’re not alone. In fact, weight gain has become one of the most common side effects of social isolation — quarantine 15 anyone?

There are a handful of factors that are contributing to weight gain, including[6][7]: 

  • Reduction in physical activity
  • Increased stress
  • Working from home, access to snacking all-day
  • Boredom
  • Sleep disturbances

Gaining a few pounds may feel uncomfortable and disconcerting, but the real threats with weight gain are much more serious. Some conditions associated with excess weight include[8]:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Sleep apnea
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Osteoarthritis 
  • Kidney disease
  • Fertility issues

Physical Pain

Physical pain is a sneaky one; for most people, it can creep up on you slowly. Research shows that in the last year, more people are presenting with physical pain than previously reported.

Where is the pain coming from?

Some reports suggest that reduced physical activity is contributing to pain, while others blame the work from home environment. 

Typically, it can be very beneficial to get your joints and muscles moving when you have physical pain. As previously mentioned, physical activity has taken a significant hit since the beginning of the pandemic, which could be one reason why people with pain are experiencing spikes in discomfort[9].

In addition, the work from home environment may be another contributor to physical pain due to the lack of proper working space set up. In an office, the desks and chairs are typically set up in a way that offers support to your muscles and joints, but when working from home, most people are setting up shop at the kitchen table or on the sofa, both of which are not ideal for back and neck positioning. 

Research shows that more people are complaining of neck pain, back pain, and headaches since switching to a work at home model. What’s more, studies report that on average, people are spending an hour and a half more at their home work stations every day than they were in the office environment[10][11].

Blue Light Exposure (Eye and Skin Health)

For most people, the hours spent in front of a screen have increased significantly during the pandemic. With work meetings carried out over zoom, family catch-ups taking place on FaceTime, and of course, the never-ending stream of Netflix series that have gotten more than their due attention over the last year, it seems like screen time has become our only means for social engagement. 

Unfortunately, with screen time comes more exposure to blue light. Blue light is a high-energy light that carries with it risks for oxidative stress when it comes into contact with your tissues.

Research shows that exposure to blue light can increase oxidation in your eye and cause damage, leading to macular degeneration and cataracts[12].  

However, more to the point is the warning from the American Optometric Association that the increased screen time due to the pandemic is leading to eye strain, which could lead to issues with vision for both children and adults[13].

Furthermore, your skin (which is also the first line of defense against blue light) may also experience increased oxidation due to the amount of time that you’re spending in front of your screen. Some research shows that even short exposures to blue light can increase the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in your skin, which can accelerate aging[14]. 

And finally, blue light may also impact your sleep cycle by inhibiting melatonin, a hormone that’s essential for helping your body fall asleep[1]. 

Mood Issues and Depression

Social isolation, stress, job losses, and for some, the loss of loved ones have all compounded on each other in the last year, putting the importance of mental health into clear view during these trying times. We have all experienced quite a bit of trauma in various forms this past year. 

Research shows that 53% of adults report that their mental health has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, with 12% reporting an increase in alcohol or substance use to cope, 32% reporting difficulty eating, and 36% reporting difficulty with sleep[15].

Along with the obvious stressors, many people are also finding that they’re deprived of the things that light them up, like hobbies, which involve being outdoors or in a social setting. 

In particular, physical inactivity has been shown to contribute to the rise in anxiety and depression during the pandemic as people are missing out on both the physical and social benefits[16][17]. 

Increased Risk For Heart Disease and Diabetes

With the decrease in activity and increase in poor eating habits, weight gain, and emotional stress, this pandemic has set us up with a recipe for heart disease and diabetes[18][19][20]. 

What’s truly disturbing, however, is that this risk is not limited to the adult population. In fact, research shows that the sedentary effects of the pandemic have increased the risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in children as well[21]. 

How To Turn It All-Around

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and perhaps a little defeated at this point, take heart — you have the power to turn your health around. 

To get yourself back on track, you need to target both your mind and your body, emotional trauma and take inventory of the habits and behaviors that you may have developed over the last year. 

It came on slowly, but after a few months of the pandemic, I started to notice my own health slipping – I even gained 19 pounds!! So I put a few strategies into practice that made a world of difference. 

These include:

#1 Take a look at your diet. If you’re not feeling quite like yourself lately, diet most likely has a role to play. Check yourself on your snacking habits, and assess whether you’re getting enough fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy protein sources. It’s very easy to get into a food rut — especially when you have nowhere to go or nothing, in particular, to “look good” for. But looking good and feeling good for yourself is an enormous act of self-love, so give yourself that. 

#2 Find ways to reduce stress. It may sound easier said than done, but there are some tried and true stress-reduction techniques that could make a world of difference in your life once you give it a shot. Meditation and breathing exercises are two of the most well-researched ways to bring down stress and enhance relaxation, and the best part about these techniques is that you can start with just five minutes a day if you’re strapped for time[22][23].

#3 Detox. It would be hard to find one person on this planet that couldn’t benefit from a liver detox at this point in time. The increase in alcohol consumption, snack foods, and stress all impact your poor liver. Give it some love by choosing foods and supplements that can help move toxins out of your body, and reduce your overall toxic load[24][25]. 

#4 Find an online workout that you love. If you are overdoing pilates or yoga in your living room, try a dance workout or maybe resistance training. It’s easy to get into an exercise rut and resolve to do nothing, but there are way too many options these days to let this be your excuse. Movement is crucial not only for weight maintenance but for the health of your heart, your sleep cycle, and to combat physical pain. 

#5 Set up an ergonomic working space. If you’re working from home and don’t have a home office, create a space where you can sit comfortably, where your back and neck are straight, and you aren’t slouching over your computer. Sitting in this way will not only protect your back and neck, but it will help you feel more alert and focused.

#6 Grab some blue light blockers. These glasses are fitted with a blue-light blocking lens, which decreases the amount of UV radiation that reaches your eyes. If you sit in front of a screen all day, these glasses are crucial not only for protecting your eye health but also for keeping your melatonin production healthy.

A Guided Program For Reclaiming Your Body

The pandemic hit me just like it did everyone else. But as I mentioned, I tried to my physical imbalance in the bud so I could get back on track as quickly as possible. In an effort to make your journey back into pre-pandemic balance as easy as possible, I’ve put together a 14-Day Weight Loss and Mind-Body Detox Challenge

This challenge includes in-depth information on how to detox, lose weight, reclaim your beautiful skin, release emotional trauma, reduce stress, sleep better, and protect yourself from EMF and other environmental threats. 

I focus quite a bit in this program on emotional trauma and how to easily and effectively deal with it. I don’t think people realize how much emotional trauma contributes to weight gain and current emotional well-being. It’s such a gain changer to address this!

Furthermore, I didn’t want to leave any wiggle room for confusion, so I also included meal plans, a cookbook, targeted supplements for detox, three webinars, and Q & A sessions so that you feel completely supported during your program. 

I’m so delighted that I was able to go through my process, so I could put together this step-by-step program to help you reclaim your body and get back on track. 

Takeaway

This past year has been one of the most challenging times in recent history, and although we aren’t out of the woods yet — it’s never too early to start turning things around. If you’ve been feeling more drained, achy, tired, stressed, or just not like yourself, then it’s time to do a little overhaul and get yourself back on track. 

Try one, two, three, or all of my recommendations. And for additional support that’s guaranteed to give you the fastest turnaround, check out my 14-Day Weight Loss and Mind-Body Detox Challenge.

 

Click Here for References+

  1. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/children-and-sleep/how-blue-light-affects-kids-sleep

  2. Halgamuge, Malka N. “Pineal melatonin level disruption in humans due to electromagnetic fields and ICNIRP limits.” Radiation protection dosimetry 154.4 (2013): 405-416.

  3. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/exercising-for-better-sleep

  4. Huber, Bruno C., et al. “Alteration of physical activity during COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in young adults.” Journal of Translational Medicine 18.1 (2020): 1-3.

  5. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/why-lack-of-sleep-is-bad-for-your-health/#:~:text=Regular%20poor%20sleep%20puts%20you,a%20long%20and%20healthy%20life

  6. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/packing-on-pounds-during-covid-19-and-how-to-turn-it-around/

  7. Zachary, Zeigler, et al. “Self-quarantine and weight gain related risk factors during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Obesity research & clinical practice 14.3 (2020): 210-216.

  8. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/health-risks-overweight

  9. Fallon, Nicholas, et al. “Adverse effects of COVID-19-related lockdown on pain, physical activity and psychological well-being in people with chronic pain.” British Journal of Pain (2020): 2049463720973703.

  10. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20201203/Working-from-home-has-negatively-impacted-physical-health-and-mental-health-study-finds.aspx#:~:text=The%20study%20finds%20that%20time,and%20those%20with%20higher%20income

  11. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/heres-how-to-set-up-your-office-to-avoid-aches-pain/

  12. Kaido, Minako, et al. “Reducing short-wavelength blue light in dry eye patients with unstable tear film improves performance on tests of visual acuity.” PLoS One 11.4 (2016): e0152936.

  13. https://www.aoa.org/news/clinical-eye-care/health-and-wellness/covid-19-digital-eyestrain?sso=y

  14. Arjmandi, N., et al. “Can light emitted from smartphone screens and taking selfies cause premature aging and wrinkles?.” Journal of biomedical physics & engineering 8.4 (2018): 447.

  15. https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/

  16. Diamond, Rowan, and Felicity Waite. “Physical activity in a pandemic: A new treatment target for psychological therapy.” Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice (2020).

  17. Silva, Lucas Raphael Bento, et al. “Physical inactivity is associated with increased levels of anxiety, depression and stress in Brazilians during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional study.” Frontiers in Psychiatry 11 (2020): 1257.

  18. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/mentalhealth.htm#:~:text=People%20experiencing%20depression%2C%20anxiety%2C%20stress,and%20heightened%20levels%20of%20cortisol

  19. Barnes, Ann Smith. “The epidemic of obesity and diabetes: trends and treatments.” Texas Heart Institute Journal 38.2 (2011): 142.

  20. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/physical-activity-and-your-heart#:~:text=Physical%20Activity%20Reduces%20Coronary%20Heart,up%20inside%20your%20coronary%20arteries

  21. Dunton, Genevieve F., Bridgette Do, and Shirlene D. Wang. “Early effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity and sedentary behavior in children living in the US.” BMC Public Health 20.1 (2020): 1-13.

  22. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858

  23. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/ways-relieve-stress/

  24. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150519105856.htm#:~:text=Summary%3A,liver%20disease%2C%20a%20study%20suggests

  25. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/alcohol-related-liver-disease-arld/#:~:text=Drinking%20a%20large%20amount%20of,drinking%20at%20a%20harmful%20level

in Alternative Medicine/Articles/Lifestyle/Stress

Wendy Myers, FDN-P, is a detox expert, functional diagnostic nutritionist, NES Bioenergetic Practitioner, and founder of Myersdetox.com. She is the #1 bestselling author of Limitless Energy: How to Detox Toxic Metals to End Exhaustion and Chronic Fatigue . Additionally, Wendy is the host of The Heavy Metals Summit, the Myers Detox Podcast, and the Supercharged Podcast. Passionate about the importance of detox to live a long and healthy life, she created the revolutionary Myers Detox Protocol , and Mitochondria Detox kit after working with thousands of clients, as well as a range of supplements to help you detox from everyday living and maintain a healthy lifestyle!