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Ask Dr. Sal

Webinar #17- Sep 16 (2020)

MANAGING STRESS DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC
How are you handling life during the current epidemic? Are you feeling irritable, frustrated, or depressed? Stress relieving strategies are the secret weapon to working through these difficult times in a positive way and to empowering you in all aspects of life.
Before we get into the content of the program let’s answer a few questions:
Poll questions #1
How would you rate your stress level on a scale of 1-5?
1.      Very low
2.      Low
3.      Moderate
4.      High
5.      Very high
Poll questions #2
What is the biggest cause of your stress today?
1.      The pandemic
2.      Family issues
3.      Work issues
4.      Protests and unrest
5.      Finances/the economy
6.      Other/not very stressed

Let me introduce our esteemed guest Dr. Jennifer Lovejoy
Dr. Lovejoy has a PhD in Physiological Psychology from Emory University and has dedicated her career to the research and clinical application of approaches that integrate mind and body, especially in relation to chronic diseases
such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
While in academia, she was involved in designing the intensive lifestyle intervention for the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), which was ultimately found to reduce new onset of diabetes by 58%. Subsequently, she designed and implemented successful lifestyle and behavioral interventions for weight loss and personalized wellness for two healthcare companies. Currently, Dr. Lovejoy serves as the
VP of Innovation and Program Strategy for the Lifestyle Medicine Institute.

Q: What do we know about the impact of COVID-19 on mental health?
Q: Are some groups disproportionately impacted?
A: Discusses overall impact and groups that are particularly at risk for adverse mental health effects, including healthcare providers.
Q: Why has the pandemic been so harmful for mental health?
A: Will discuss that the impact is worsened because you have fear of the disease itself plus stress caused by all the public health measures put in place to prevent spread of the virus (social distancing, school shutdowns, etc.) plus the economic and social impacts of those measures.
Most commonly reported sources of stress from COVID-19 include:
* watching/reading news about the severity of COVID (96%),
* uncertainty about future (88%),
* changes to daily routines (>80%),
* fear of infection (~60%),
* pressure to “find silver lining” (49%),
* financial impacts. (Park et al., 2020)
Q: There are 6 pillars of LM but why is stress management one of the pillars?
A: Will briefly discuss impact of stress on overall health and specifically studies
that show that stress can be even more harmful to heart health than poor nutrition or inactivity. “If you are stressed, you can’t digest!”
(The gut-brain connection and the microbiome)
Q: How does stress impact immune function?
Darren Morton clip shown.
Q: What are some strategies for managing stress and building resilience?
A: Discusses CHIP recommendations:
1. Take less stress on, and
2. Practice regular stress management strategies. Emphasize importance of regular practice – “don’t start sewing your parachute when you are about to jump out of the plane!” Discusses 2 new concepts especially important for the pandemic: Overcoming the brain’s negativity bias, and deep breathing to stimulate vagal nerve

VIDEOS SHOWN:
1. “Introduction-Trailer from CHIP Session 16” (Darren Morton @ 0:00)
2. “Stress Affects the Immune System (Darren @ 16:07)

QUESTIONS ASKED:
* “How do you handle stress from other people who are lashing out because of their stress?” (26:00)
* What evidence is there that negativity on Facebook and social media is not good for us? (27:44)
* What age would you recommend for kids to have a social media account? (29:20)
* How can you deal with the differences in politics when sitting with your family? (30:35)

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