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Anxious over COVID-19? Expert says simply disconnect from social media

/ 07:33 PM April 02, 2020

Fake news on social media about COVID-19 is making people’s anxieties worse during quarantine and one way to ease these was simply to disconnect from Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

A health specialist offered this suggestion for the millions of people who are now stuck at home as a result of an enhanced community quarantine to stop the spread of the disease.

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Easing anxiety would not only uplift spirits but also help boost immune systems against COVID-19, according to Dr. Rolando Balburias.

Balburias said most cases of COVID-19 anxiety is due to overexposure to news about the disease from traditional and social media, where fake news abounds and spreads quicker than the virus that causes the disease.

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The doctor said some adjustments are immediately doable like disconnecting from social media or actively seeking relaxation through prayers or meditation.

“To relax our minds, we can pray or learn meditation exercises,” Balburias said.

“If we have too much stimulation from negative news, the primitive part of our brain gets activated and steers us away from the pre-frontal cortex that allows us to make calm, rational decisions,” he said.

Those on quarantine could also resort to taking “adaptogens” to soothe their nerves. Balburias said some examples of adaptogens are different types of tea like camomile, tumeric or ginger, passion flower and other herbal concoctions that have calming effects.

“You can also eat leafy green vegetables to calm you down, or eat food rich in minerals like magnesium and zinc,” Balburias added.

He made the remarks at a Laging Handa public briefing, where he explained that fake news on social media is meant to cause panic and stimulate the amygdala, the almond-shaped gray matter inside each of the brain’s hemisphere that are involved in emotions.

On Thursday, Luzon entered its 18th day of an enhanced community quarantine that forced people to stay indoors to limit movement and the spread of COVID-19.

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Balburias said when the amygdala are stimulated “too much,” there is tendency to “base decisions on fear and it affects the rational decision-making of a person.”

“It affects our sleeping patterns,” he said. Sleep and anxiety are connected, he added.

“It’s because of anxiety that we are unable to sleep and our immune system is affected,” said Balburias.

“Our health ends up being compromised,” the expert added.

Decisions made on the basis of fear, like panic-buying, also cause stress that hurts a person’s immune system, according to Balburias.

“We’re in a quarantine after all, so why not disconnect from negative news?” he added.

Edited by TSB

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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