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The coronavirus changed everyday life — it pays to care for your wellbeing

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 11.6.2020 13.00 | Published in English on 11.6.2020 at 14.56
Column

The coronavirus outbreak in spring has changed everyday routines. After the initial shock, some people are even better than before. For others, a possible new wave of the virus and their own future may be frightenining and a source of anxiety. Managing daily life may be difficult.

Teleworking and relaxation of dashing off to hobbies have meant that many people have slept longer at night, life has been less hectic, rambling has made the nearby natural environment more familiar and the family has gathered round the dinner table perhaps more often than before. The coronavirus epidemic has given many the impetus to quit smoking, and help for this has been sought for instance through online services. 

On the other hand, friends, relatives and co-workers are missed, a bottle of wine is emptied unnoticed, the favourite gym has closed and the refrigerator door is temptingly close. Layoffs, redundancies and changes in consumer behaviour are reflected in the pay packet and in possibilities to look after one’s own wellbeing. 

The epidemic and exceptional circumstances have heightened and increased previously identified disparities in health and wellbeing. The differences have also become more visible.

Lifestyle and state of health can increase the risk of developing coronavirus disease

The coronavirus is a threat to health. Our knowledge of the risk factors for developing coronavirus disease is still incomplete. We know, however, that lifestyle and state of health affect morbidity. For this reason, looking after your wellbeing, functional capacity and health is even more important. 

For example, a varied diet with sufficient protective nutrients is important for the functioning of our defence system and our resistance to bacteria and viruses. Smoking impairs lung function and increases the risk of serious coronavirus disease. The benefits of quitting smoking are quickly visible, among others as improved resistance.

Good respiratory health and general condition affect both morbidity and recovery. Adequate exercise undoubtedly has a positive effect on the condition of the respiratory and circulatory system. What’s more, adequate exercise and healthy nutrition can prevent type 2 diabetes and lower blood pressure. In addition, they help with weight management. 

Studies indicate that many noncommunicable diseases, such as hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases, as well as type 2 diabetes, appear to increase the risk of developing more serious forms of COVID-19 disease. The majority of patients in intensive care are overweight and obese.

New ways of doing things have hopefully come to stay

We live in uncertainty. We don’t know if the second wave of the coronavirus will strike later. Nor do we know how we will succeed in returning to so-called normal life. That is precisely why you should care for your health and wellbeing. It is important to support others to do the same. 

The coronavirus outbreak in spring has increased people’s wish to help their neighbours and fellow human beings, either themselves or through the work of organisations. It is positive that many have found new forms of community spirit and new ways of doing things, such as remote exercise lessons and concerts or, for example, window theatre. Hopefully these will remain permanent features of everyday life and will produce joy also in future. We need a many kinds of practices, from neighbourhood assistance to remote yoga and from virtual dining groups to courtyard and balcony concerts. No one should be left alone. 

It is also positive that many municipalities, companies and organisations have developed new ways of working and making people’s daily lives easier. Digitalisation, for example, has also developed in exceptional circumstances as if by accident. 

Organisations deserve credit for being actively involved in the coronavirus situation, both in preventing harm and inequality and in caring for the problems that have arisen. 

Sirpa Sarlio
Ministerial Adviser
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health