Long COVID or long-haul COVID is a condition marked by long-term repercussions that persist or develop after the normal COVID-19 convalescence phase. This has become an epidemic in and of itself, with millions of Americans suffering from worsening symptoms daily. According to Pennsylvania State research, more than half of COVID-19 survivors experience lingering symptoms six months after recovery.
“These findings confirm what many health care workers and COVID-19 survivors have been claiming, namely, that adverse health effects from COVID-19 can linger,” said co-lead investigator Vernon Chinchilli, chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences.
COVID directly impacts breathing for many people as it is a respiratory illness. When we breathe more shallowly or hold our breath, this sends a signal to our brain that we are in danger. When breathing is affected, our sympathetic nervous system can become more activated, which can heighten anxiety and cause the cycle of symptoms to worsen.
Focus on the Positive
There is an emotional element to dealing with COVID. People who have pre-existing anxiety and depression may find that having COVID heightens these feelings. Generally, preoccupation with anything physical going on in the body can create more fight-or-flight in the brain, which can lead to increased anxiety and increased symptoms, due to the stress hormones in the body. The cycle of focusing on symptoms, worrying about getting better, and preoccupation with the the body makes symptoms worse.
Even though this information can be a cause for alarm, living in fear of developing long-COVID symptoms can become counterproductive. Because of this, stressing about long-COVID can make your health outcomes worse. The best way to heal is to focus on what you can control.
How to Heal
From a healing perspective, mindful breathing and reminding ourselves to relax our bodies and engage in slow, deep breaths can go a long way. Start slow and work your way to slightly holding the breath for just a few seconds.
If you are struggling with insomnia, you want to spend as little time in bed as possible. Make sure you are only using your bed for sleep, wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, and avoid constantly looking at the clock when trying to fall asleep.
When dealing with chronic pain management, practice mindfulness and somatic tracking, which means trying to focus on allowing pain sensations to be present without trying to get rid of them or fix them. This is done by detaching the pain sensations from fear, anger, or frustration.
This is all easier said than done, but with hard work and patience, you too can overcome your chronic pain and insomnia. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help, reach out to us at www.dcmetrotherapy.com/contact