COVID-19: money, mind and beyond – The Daily Star

While having no promising success so far against the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), social distancing and quarantine are the only preventive measures advised by experts around the world. The idea is simple as you are not carrying the baton for letting the virus spread in your community. The devastating Coronavirus-show is already long enough that put everyone in critical thinking and wonder what now?

By far you have heard a lot about vaccines or drugs against COVID-19, how much have you grasped for your mental health? It is not just some sort of chemical imbalance that causes stress or depression. Stressful life events, dysregulation of mood by the brain and genetic vulnerability are also major sources of impaired mental health that exist in this pandemic.

Unfortunately for some during this pandemic, it is either Coronavirus or hunger to choose from. Some experts made a daunting speculation that this pandemic driven economic recession will be worse than ever as countries covering more than fifty percent of the world's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are under lockdown. Unprecedented distortion in the circular flow of economic activities is plummeting people's positive energy.

Hence, this is not the best time for worshipping any economic theory, either be it neoclassical (naturally driven economic rehabilitation with minimum government influence) or Keynesian (government-backed and fast-paced). Experts rather emphasise on the mobility of money where it should reach all the catalysts of the economy especially the struggling and deprived ones. Although coronavirus itself may move around traceless, the havoc of diminished financial stability is now evident and imprinting its effect on people's psyche. Any decision-making fiasco either for prolonged lockdown or getting back to work will just worsen the burden.

Our lifestyle needs a bit of tuning so that we move along with an apparent healthy living. Quarantine takes a deep toll on our mood presenting a weird kind of boredom. Boredom and stress provoke people towards overeating, for many the sugary "comfort foods''.

Imbalance in dietary choice driven by the craving for any specific food includes emotional, behavioural, cognitive or psychological process. Although carbohydrate-rich foods promote the 'happy hormone' serotonin production which stimulates our mood, it also triggers a higher glycaemic index with consequent obesity and diabetes down the line.

Sleep disturbance or change in circadian rhythm adds another level of stress. Foods rich in serotonin and sleep-promoting amino acid melatonin for dinner may help. Having a considerable portion of veggies, fruits and leafy greens are good options. This also provides tryptophan, the precursor of serotonin and melatonin. Just maintaining the basics ensuring good sources of immuno-supportive nutrients with vitamins, antioxidants, balance of macro and micronutrients may help you fight the impaired immune response and activate your natural mechanism against any infection or altered mental health.

In addition, not going out means less exposure to the sun, leading to reduced vitamin D levels. Replenishing vitamin D may be available from a brief walk around when the sun is up or from vitamin D rich foods like commonly found poultry options.

The positive association of a balanced diet and exercise with good mental health are plenty. The last option for improved mental health is going through medication under expert hands. Again, this is nothing new as many people already went through a similar situation. In the end, mental health matters big time.

The trauma from the invisible virus haunting us everyday demands extra empathy for our own. It may sound clich but empathy, compassion and self-care should now be the most talked and practiced life events to go the extra mile in this pandemic.

The writer is a doctoral student at the Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Australia. Email:

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COVID-19: money, mind and beyond - The Daily Star

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