California Surgeon General: Keep Your Stress in Check During COVID-19 Crisis

Apr 14, 2020 | Health

Quinci LeGardyeCalifornia Black Media

On April 7, World Health Day, California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris announced the release of the California Surgeon General’s Playbook on Stress Relief During COVID-19. The playbook includes evidence-based guidelines on how to alleviate stress during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

At a press conference in Sacramento last week, Burke Harris spoke about the importance of mental health during the pandemic. An increase in stress hormones during a time of worry and uncertainty can impact an individual’s physical health, she said.

“During times of heightened stress, our bodies make more stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, and these can affect our health, our behaviors and our emotions” said Burke Harris.

Those effects are of particular concern to African Americans. Some of the health conditions that can be exacerbated by heightened stress include heart disease, blood pressure and diabetes.

“Healthy nutrition, regular exercise, mindfulness like meditation, good sleep hygiene and staying connected to our social supports and getting mental health care, all help to decrease stress hormones and improve our health,” said Burke Harris.

The playbook elaborates on the six stress-busting strategies Burke Harris mentioned during the press conference, as well as a self-care template for adults. There is also a companion playbook with tips and tricks for caregivers and kids.

The surgeon general also highlighted the importance of familial and social relationships to mental health. “Safe, stable and nurturing relationships, help to protect our brains and bodies from the harmful effects of stress and adversity.”

Gov. Newsom also gave a message of faith. “We are bigger than anything we face, and so I know that fear and anxiety we all have but let us have faith. Faith conquers all. Know that this will pass.”

Both playbooks are available under the “Stress playbooks” tab at covid19.ca.gov. In addition to the playbooks, the website lists the numbers of the 24-hour Suicide Prevention and Domestic Violence Hotlines. There are also California-based hotlines for non-emergency support, including the “Peer-Run Warm Line” for anyone in California seeking emotional support.

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