By Annika Tomlin
Stress is a common feeling that has arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not at all unexpected, but Chandler Naturopath Dr. Crystal Song says stress isn’t limited to events.
“Stress is not really just an event. I think stress should be defined by a person’s response to an event,” Song says,
“The same event can occur, and two different people could have a different reaction. Basically, if you feel stressful or if you feel anxious about a certain event than that event is a stress for you.”
Song discussed the many ways that this pandemic can change people’s well-being and ways to consider getting some normalcy back into their lives. Song encourages her patients to maintain their normal intake of vitamins and supplements, especially vitamin D because we’re going outside far less.
Song has seen several of her patients’ vitals change during the pandemic. Bloodwork has revealed some of them have high cholesterol now.
“They claim that they are doing the same diet and doing the same exercises and routine but on closer examination what we found when we try to identify the problem as a naturopath is that when they were going to work physically, they were definitely taking a lot more steps,” Song says.
The quarantine has pushed everyone away from exercise—even easier tasks like going to the mall or shopping. So we are walking less and should add more exercise to our routines.
“All of those things that you used to do would cause you to do more steps and more walking, so now you basically have to increase your exercises whatever your routine is.”
She would emphasize that exercising in open air is always better and even though it is hot outside people can go out in the evening or early mornings.
Song has seen an increase of alcohol consumption among her patients. She attributes it to boredom and the quarantine.
“You’re not supposed to have parties,” she says. “Maybe in the past you just go to a party and drink but now you don’t have the big parties, instead you have small gatherings with family members. There is no question that people are drinking more.”
Moderate amounts of drinking are OK according to Song but she does not feel that alcohol has any benefits.
Food consumption is up, too, because we’re home all the time. Song thinks the limited availability of certain foods should not be a reason to eat unhealthily.
“There’s definitely no shortage of fresh fruit and veggies,” she says. “It’s summertime so a lot of these things are on the market now—melons, peaches, nectarines, apricots and berries. Those are all really healthy and they are loaded with antioxidants so they would really help people with the immunity and their natural ability to keep the virus out of the body.”
At her appointments, Song checks her patients’ oxygen level and heart rate. She found one of her patients who had normal oxygen levels and heart rate prior to the pandemic had an oxygen level of 90%.
“The normal range for oxygen saturation is 94% or more. The closer to 100 the better it is. That means your blood is full of oxygen.”
She says the lower oxygen level was due to anxiety because patients hold their breath more during an attack.
“It’s a habit that a lot of people don’t know, and I think I catch myself doing that sometimes when I’m concentrating or something more when I’m nervous. I’m not taking deep breaths; I’m just holding my breath or doing shallow breathing.”
Holding in breath can cause fatigue and more anxiety.
“I think it would be a really good idea for people to exercise their breathing kind of purposely as an exercise taking deep breaths and also consider a pulse oximeter.”
A pulse oximeter is the small device that goes on your index finger for nurses and doctors to use to measure pulse and oxygen level. For people who do not have COPD or other chronic respiratory illnesses, oxygen levels should be within the 97 or 98 percentiles, according to Song.
She suggests people guy pulse oximeters, which are relatively inexpensive. The virus can cause a serious drop in oxygen levels.
“A lot of people don’t know this because they don’t have a device to measure their oxygen. They do not know that their oxygen is dropping but they could have symptoms like shortness of breath. Without taking the measurement you just don’t know when or if you should go to the hospital to get the oxygen and be on a ventilator.”
Song tells all of her patients to get a baseline oxygen level while they are well, so they have something to compare it to when they don’t feel well.
It is unclear as to when the pandemic will end, and Song hopes people adapt to the “new normal.”
“There is always that mind-body relationship. When your mind is not healthy or not happy it is going to affect the body.”
Song predicted the pandemic would end when summertime hit. She was wrong.
“I’m not ashamed of saying that. One of the things I always said was when the heat comes on the virus will die off same as the flu; but that just doesn’t seem to be happening.”
Even with the quarantine, she encourages people to go out in the open air to walk or bike.
“We can’t just say, ‘I’ll wait until everything just ends and then I’ll go back to normal life.’ We don’t know when that is going to come so what I have been telling patients is that they have to be creative and come up with new ways of doing things.”
Song is all for social distancing. She told one of her patients to have online lunch dates instead of in person.
“Kind of make it a point to talking to people. We are social animals. We do have to talk to people even if it’s just talking and we’re not seeing people in person. Even just make a point of talking to people it will help a lot because otherwise we are going to see a surge of or aggravation of a lot of mental illnesses coming out of this pandemic.”
Song of Natural Medicine
Song’s practice, Song of Natural Medicine, is still seeing patients in person, but has offered telemedicine to help minimize the traffic in her office. She sees acupuncture patients who are willing to come in person. One person is allowed into the facility at a time with maybe a single family member as well.
“We wipe down everything after every patient. For people who are sick and have symptoms, we asked them to stay home and ask them to do the telemedicine. We treat that way to keep it safe for the people who do come in.”
Song of Natural Medicine
2979 E. Elliot Road, Suite 3, Chandler