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Stay-at-home order impact on mental, physical health

Isolation quarantine due to coronavirus COVID-19 (Getty Images)
Isolation quarantine due to coronavirus COVID-19 (Getty Images)
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It has been nearly two months since Illinois' Stay-at-Home order has been put in place.

While it is designed to keep everyone safe, it might be having adverse effects on mental and physical health.

The good news is we're told it does not happen quickly and there are ways to prevent your immune system from weakening.

According to Dr. Kari Wolf, the chair of psychiatry at SIU School of Medicine, our mental and physical health are tied together.

Studies show that staying isolated for long periods of time can cause higher amounts of stress and anxiety.

"We know that we want to minimize the stress, the anxiety, the social isolation that people are going through because that can affect our mental health and can affect our physical health," Dr. Wolf said.

However, these studies are normally done over a 6-12 month period and are in extremely high-stress situations.

By staying inside due to the Stay-at-Home order or being isolated for a shorter period of time, the effects are minimal.

"We know that kind of minor fluctuations with all sorts of things with your body can affect the little aspects of your immune system, but not your overarching immune system to where you are going to be susceptible to big, major chronic diseases," Dr. Wolf said.

Dr. Wolf said the lack of human interaction and touch can slightly alter brain chemistry.

"It just makes people feel [sadder]," Wolf said. "Not depressed or clinically depressed like we would call an illness, but sad."

Dr. Wolf and other experts in the field are emphasizing the importance of maintaining a routine, getting enough sleep, sunlight, and especially exercise.

"We know that getting good sleep makes a world of difference in how you handle anxiety and how your body responds to stress," Dr. Wolf said. "We also know that exercise is very beneficial. We know that people who have clinical depression, mild, not severe, but clinical depression, exercise alone can treat that depression."

There are difficulties though with getting exercise during the Stay-at-Home order.

However, Dr. Wolf said there are still ways to get it, all while obeying CDC and social distancing guidelines.

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