It’s a big virus that when I talk or cough it falls to the ground at only four feet. It’s a single-stranded ribonucleic acid virus, and it has the glycoprotein in the form of a spine that recognizes the cells of the lung alveoli and uses them to replicate. It stays on surfaces for a while and if we touch them we load our hands with virus; that protein is dissolved with soap. Best of all, it doesn’t stay in the body. It now affects 3 percent or 17 people per million. Every year the flu infects ten thousand per million. The Spanish flu of 1918 infected one in twenty people. Fifty percent of those infected with the current virus will have no symptoms and can spread unknowingly.
All this means that the virus is not in the air, that we can avoid it because it is on surfaces, that we keep the meter and a half of personal proximity and wash our hands with soap because there is no better viricide than it, as well as none cheaper.
Confinement in houses tests our identity because we are a body made to move around as much as possible and that is now restricted.
We are social mammals, our mind has a part of it displaced inhabiting the world around us being itself a part of our mind that now shrinks and limits itself.
Confinement also limits what we are; made up of group relationships, we are connected at night through dreams and by day to our surroundings. An important part of our identity is what we do, what we invest our time in, and now we cannot do what we have always done.
All of this is held back in seclusion and causes stress. If we confine an animal in freedom, after some time it will have signs, if it is a dog, its hair will fall out with somatic disorders later.
If we do not move very often from the middle age of life we are going to have articular discomfort, because, although it does not look like osteoarthritis, as the atheroma plaques start very soon. Exercise can improve and slow down the inflammatory processes, by producing anti-inflammatory cytokines. If sedentary life persists for a while these cytokines will pass to the brain and alter some of its structures, the result of which will be depression and anxiety. If we have mild hypertension, it will rise without us noticing it. If we don’t move our abdominals we will have constipation. We will sleep poorly as we abandon healthy habits. This means that we must move our body every hour, physical exercise increases the cerebral and joint irrigation, improves the mood by the production of dopamine and encephalines, so it must be the fundamental thing.
Light meals with a 60% of fruits and vegetables, dairy and nuts, almonds, pistachios and walnuts that, together with that one are sedatives and provide us with vitamin D that at home our skin will not be able to synthesize it due to the lack of sun. As we don’t move our muscles enough we will lose muscle mass, sarcopenia, which leads to the need to eat meat, proteins and other foods that we all know contain them to avoid losing muscle mass.
We should not continue to eat as if we were active, let’s do it in small amounts, improving breakfast as the main meal, because it is the least fattening. For breakfast, I recommend a variety of fruits in the blender by adding two or three previously ground nuts. I give a lot of information about this subject in my book Mediterranean Diet and Physical Exercise.
Having a group constitution it is crucial to be connected with our friends, colleagues, family and with very little television that brings us up to date with the dead, we already know that we can infect and be infected, it is enough.
Our body needs food and almost constant daily exercise to nourish our mind.
It needs a variety of stimuli as food. Every day we read Don Quixote, travel books, humorous novels, history and professional subjects. On the other hand, our mental life is healing, enriching, because the media has left its devastating task of presenting us with little characters from three to four in all areas to show us what enriches us, stimulates and capitalizes our mind with people of real value and merit: military, police, health personnel, professionals in other fields that keep Spain working, giving an example of what they have real value. And the crisis shows us some politicians who care exclusively about their own and that we citizens are worth nothing to them, capable of lying, of interrupting the task of national salvation in which we are in order to continue their demolishing, disruptive work, of fragmenting the unity that we need.
Music is a basic necessity, if possible and according to taste, classical, the classical is what continues to move us through time. An arrow, flamenco, Spanish song, opera, as well as classics like Mozart, Albeniz or Rodrigo.
Unfortunately our society has for years removed from the open and paid television programs, a fundamental element: humor. We have a disruptive mood, with bad language and most of it politicized or as a support to power. They have taken away from us the musical films, those of humor, of intelligent dialogues, with accessible plots for those of us who are not violent or attracted by the catastrophes that modern special effects present to us. But it would be a good recipe to be able to see films with human themes, as I say, humorous, musical, historical, anything that stimulates healthy emotions. Even our children have deformed cartoons, strangers with no possibility of identification with their characters.
The television appearances of our military men are doing us a lot of good, because they present us with honesty and good deeds, since our fragile confidence in some politicians who, for a hundred years of that respiratory virus, like this one, the now and provisionally pondered and valued as scientists already knew that pandemics would come and will come with periodicals.
I will end by saying that to keep the body healthy we need culture and the arts. We have all the museums and libraries open, and discipline and concentration in daily tasks and physical exercises. But we know that the mind needs to become obsessive in times of crisis, and focus on a schedule similar to the one we had. It’s a foundation of what we call mental hygiene.
José Antonio Rodríguez Piedrabuena
Specialist in Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis. Specialist in management training, group and couple therapies.