Behavioral-medical integration expert and clinical psychologist Tom Warnes, Ph.D., offers recommendations on maintaining emotional and physical wellbeing.
The COVID-19 outbreak has everyone on edge. Fear of contracting the virus runs high, particularly among the most vulnerable, such as people living with kidney disease. Their compromised immune systems not only make them more susceptible to the virus but at risk for a more severe infection if they contract COVID-19. It is no wonder kidney disease patients may experience an even higher level of stress and anxiety right now. Healthmap Solutions’ behavioral-medical integration expert and clinical psychologist Tom Warnes, Ph.D. offers the following on the importance of stress reduction and empowering steps for kidney disease patients to take to support their emotional and physical wellbeing during this crisis.
“Perhaps now more than ever, supporting the emotional wellbeing of patients with kidney disease is vitally important. Stress can negatively impact their overall health and self-management abilities. Research shows that sustained levels of stress can have a detrimental effect on the immune system, especially for people who are older or are living with a chronic condition. For patients with kidney disease, finding ways to minimize stress can help protect their immune system at a time when it is needed most.”
To help patients alleviate stress, Dr. Warnes recommends the following for kidney disease patients:
- Be prepared. Make sure you have enough of your prescription medications. Check with your health plan to see if benefits allow early refills.
- Plan ahead. Have supplies on-hand to get you through 1-2 weeks at home, stocking up on items that may be in short supply if doing so isn’t a financial burden.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. Sleep helps to boost your immune system, so if possible, get 8 hours of sleep every night.
- Maintain a regular daily routine. An appropriate level of physical activity, while maintaining social distancing and adhering to other CDC guidelines, can help you cope more successfully with what is an unprecedented situation.
- Eat a healthy diet. Proper nutrition helps boost your mood, and it can boost your immune system as well.
- Stay safely connected with family and friends. At a time when we are forced apart from the people we love and rely on for support, our ability to connect through technology – a phone call or the internet, has never been more important.
- Find healthy ways to manage your stress. Weather permitting spend time outside. Try some meditation or controlled breathing exercises, both of which can help reduce stress.
- Read the CDC’s guide on stress and coping during the COVID-19 outbreak for some additional suggestions and resources.
At Healthmap Solutions, we understand the importance of taking a holistic approach to caring for patients with kidney disease. Supporting and empowering them with information on how to care for their physical and emotional wellbeing can help them be better prepared to weather this healthcare storm. For updates on COVID-19 and its implications for the kidney disease population, please follow us on LinkedIn @healthmapcare and Facebook.