Breathe Easier Without Psychosomatic Illness

May 20, 2020
by Kevin RR Williams

Avoid Psychosomatic Coronavirus

Are you fearful or excited about getting out of the house? States are gradually relaxing stay-at-home orders to get the economy back on track. Like being the first to dip your toe in a swimming pool, do you dive in or wait for others to warm up the water? At least until a coronavirus vaccine is publicly available, we will be wearing masks when leaving the house.

It is wise to stay informed. But be careful of extremes—either not taking any precautions or jumping to conclusions over a simple cough. Highly publicized outbreaks can lead to mass psychogenic illness, where healthy people misinterpret non-serious bodily sensations as evidence that they have become sick.

There is a tendency to become more fearful of new things (coronavirus) than familiar ones (flu). Psychosomatic means mind (psyche) and body (soma). A psycho­somatic, or psycho­genic, disorder is a disease which involves both mind and body. Some physical diseases are thought to be particularly prone to be made worse by mental factors such as stress and anxiety. Misdiagnosis can cause hypervigilance, increased anxiety, and extreme safety behaviors.

Thirty percent of the population believe the coronavirus was created in a lab.

Being cooped up for prolonged periods can nurture conspiracy theories. Some people doubt the coronavirus exists. Protestors, defying stay-at-home orders are parading around the streets, waving signs, and honking horns. They apparently feel that the only eminent threat is remaining indoors. On the other extreme, citizens can become paranoid at the site of anyone breathing without a mask—even in an open space like a park or unpopulated neighborhood block.

FFP2 Face Mask

Wear PPE Properly

As masks become a part of daily life, you must educate yourself with proper donning (application) and doffing (removal) of personal protective equipment (PPE). Many who do not take the time to learn, risk contamination from their own PPE.

😷 Doffing: Wash hands. Wearing disposable gloves, if possible, remove by ear straps. Do not commingle contami­nated masks with sterile masks or clothing. Discard gloves and tho­rough­ly wash hands and face.

Wash your hands before and after donning or doffing. Consider the outside of masks like dirty toilet paper. There is minimal touching when new and clean—mainly to secure fit around nose and chin. Remove masks by the elastic ear straps.

Protection is only as good as the weakest link. During normal conversa­tion, unseen spittle can spray into your eyes. Eye­glasses prevent some particles. Safety glasses or goggles offer front and side protection. You can wear some models over prescription glasses.

By practicing social distancing or protecting your eyes, nose, and mouth in populated areas, you are ready to explore the great outdoors. Some restaurants are adapting to the challenge with more thorough sanitation, tables spaced further apart, and personnel wearing PPE. Since menus are handled by so many people, permanent ones in some places are replaced with disposable menus or elevated menu boards.

You cannot remain in the house forever. You need to get out for fresh air. It helps your sanity. An isolated forest or park, surrounded by trees, is a great place for a hike. Pause and take a deep breath. It will keep you fit and calm your mind.

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Kevin Williams is a health advocate and writer of hundreds of articles for multiple websites, including: A Bit More Healthy, KevinMD, and Sue’s Nutrition Buzz.