As the coronavirus continues to have an unprecedented impact worldwide, quarantines and lockdowns have resulted in people seemingly being more socially isolated than ever. In addition to being conscious of our physical health during this time, it is also important to be conscious of our mental and emotional health as well. Kava can be helpful during these times in more ways than one.
The World Health Organization reports that there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 (the coronavirus disease) and that the following measures can be taken to protect yourself and help prevent spreading the virus to others:
- Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
- Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or flexed elbow when you cough or sneeze
- Avoid close contact (1 meter or 3 feet) with people who are unwell
- Stay home and self-isolate from others in the household if you feel unwell
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are not clean
Why is Isolation Necessary?
Because of the lack of a vaccine for COVID-19, self-isolations, quarantines, lockdowns, and generally just staying away from other people are the most recommended preventative measures. These practices definitely save lives but can come with uncomfortable and even devastating mental health effects because “humans thrive, and survive, on interaction.” Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, told Business Insider, “If we think about loneliness as this adaptive response kind of like hunger and thirst, it's this unpleasant state that motivates us to seek out social connections just like hunger motivates us to seek out food.” She went on to say that, “Of course, in a situation like a pandemic that requires you to reduce or eliminate your face-to-face contact, that discomfort needs to be endured to stave off more dangerous, immediate effects.” However, the effect of social isolation varies on individuals depending on their personality with psychologist Dr. Sherry Benton saying, “If you're a massive extrovert who thrives on social contact the experience is going to hit harder than if you're an introvert who's very comfortable curling up on a couch with a book.”
The Effects of Social Isolation
Being separated from others can be stressful even if you do not get sick and the CDC reports that some feelings during and after quarantines can include:
Mixed emotions, including relief after quarantine
Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
Stress from the experience of monitoring yourself or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of COVID-19
Sadness, anger, or frustration because friends or loved ones have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from contact with you, even though you have been determined not to be contagious
Guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties during quarantine
Other emotional or mental health changes
How Kava Can Help
Clinical psychologist Andrea Graham recommends some healthy ways to cope with social isolation including the following:
Maintaining communication and catching up with friends and family through messages, phone calls, and video chats
Relaxing activities, listening to music, watching movies, mediation, deep breathing
Engage in physical activity
Keeping a positive mood
Go to bed and wake up at regular times
Follow a schedule during the day
Accomplish tasks or start a new hobby
Continue to wash your hands!
Solo walk or runs (as long as social distancing is maintained) and at-home workout plans like yoga and walking up and down stairs can help ensure you stay as physically fit as possible. Utilizing resistance bands and body weight workouts like pushups, squats, lunges, crunches, and burpees can also be convenient. Eating healthy would also help mental health and “fend of feeling too sluggish.” Canned and frozen vegetables, grains like rice and pasta, and some uncomplicated but nutrient-rich recipes like pasta salads and vegetarian chili can “help your immune system to function properly.” Limiting sugary drink consumption, not smoking, and limiting alcohol can also help. In this regard, kava can be a healthier alternative to alcohol and provide a relaxing effect without many of the negative effects of alcohol. Kava can have relaxing effects, does not impact mental clarity, is not a narcotic/addictive, provide pain relief (kava can even be made into a muscle rub), may help you achieve a better and sounder sleep, and contain active ingredients that can be likened to those in antidepressants like Xanax and Valium. In many ways, kava can potentially be a part of an individual’s self-care.
Being social and having social support can “buffer against the impacts of stress and low mood, meaning that remaining connected to others even if physically separated can be helpful.” And kava can greatly enable and/or complement these healthy habits. Many materials and kava products can safely be ordered and used from the comfort and convenience of your home. The world’s first kava maker can provide the relaxing effects of kava cheaply and in seconds and can also be used to easily brew matcha or cold brew coffee.
Kava lovers could go the more traditional route and invest in a kava ceremony kit to host and participate in their own virtual kava ceremonies with friends and other kava lovers. Those who want to skip the ceremony can just go for some instant kava or even make their own supply.
You could utilize your newfound free time to try out new kava beverages and even journal or post about your progress. New and old kava drinkers alike or just those who enjoy experimenting with different beverage recipes could try their hand at making the non-alcoholic Zesty Kavarita and Molokai Kava Mule. You could try your hand at making a kava-infused version ‘Otai—a traditional fruit drink from the Polynesian Islands. You could even start your morning with an Iced Chocolate Kava Root Latte.
The relaxing effects of kava itself could also potentially help with any restlessness or anxiety experienced during these times. Reportedly, kava can help one sleep better by helping with anxiety and stress, reducing aches and pains, and helping with depression (None of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA and these products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease).
Social isolation can have devastating consequences depending on the person, but is a necessary evil during these times. And there is no need to despair because there is always something to help cope with social isolation as well as address its dangers and mental effects. It is important to figure out what works best for you and try to maintain a lifestyle that is as healthy as possible physically, mentally, and emotionally. Thankfully, kava can help in providing a multitude of ways to do so.