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Its Enough to Make You Sick, News Coverage of the Swine Flu

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

I have noticed that no one has E. Mailed us with questions about the new bout of flu, called "swine flu." I don’t know if that is because everyone is relaxed and unstressed about the news or are too upset to ask. So, I will be the first here on Mental Help.Net to discuss how the news media cause more stress than is necessary by providing contradictory information.

For example, out political leaders, from President Obama down to the Mayor of New York City and others around the nation assure all of us that if there is a health emergency it can be met and dealt with. Meanwhile, the media provide information about every child who comes down with the illness and about the schools temporarily closed to stem the spread of the virus. They also report, as they did this morning, that the World Health Organization is about to declare this illness a "pandemic." Wow, how reassuring!!!

instead of getting all stressed out about all of this I want to recommend taking the following actions. I am doing this because, as a psychotherapist, I know it feels better to do something than to be passive and feel helpless. Here are some common sense suggestions that I can think of and I invite everone to add to the list:

1. Wash your hands with soap and hot water as frequently as possible. Just go to work after riding the bus or subway? Wash your hands. Shook hands with a friend? Wash your hands. You see, sometimes it is helpful to be a bit obsessional. (I am grinning).

2. Have your children do the same type of repetitive hand washing and explain the reasons why. Teach yourself and your children to cover your mouth nose with a tissue when when you sneeze. Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough.

3. If you or a loved one feels like you are coming down with a cold, go to the doctor. If you have flu, follow the Doctor recommendations. Stay home until you are well or keep your children home until they are well. Do not ignore symptoms and be sensible.

4. Get plenty of sleep, eat fresh fruits and vegetables and get plenty of exercise. A healthy body makes for a healthy immune system and that protects against all of these viruses.

5. It is really the elderly and the infants most vulnerable to these viruses. So, get your infant to the pediatrician if he has signs of illness and get Grandma and Grandpa to the doctor as well.

6. None of us are perfect with this but try to avoid touching your face as much as possible.

7. Chicken soup is the best medicine sometimes.

Remember, this is simply another flu and, as with all of them, plenty of liquids to cool the fever and plenty of bed rest and not going out because you do not want to infect others, are the best way to handle things. It is the people who ignored symptoms who got more sick than necessary and that was in Mexico.

Instead of stressing, use good relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep muscle relaxation and others to calm yourself if you are getting upset from the news.

It just seems to me that, sometimes, the greatest the greatest threat to our health is…The News.

Your comments and suggestions are welcome.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

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