As of today, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the majority of almost eight billion humans seem to be primarily focused on one topic: The Coronavirus.
Businesses are shutting down, travel has been halted (or at the very least, significantly restricted), the stock market has cratered, and for some reason, toilet paper has become an extremely hot commodity.
For many, it feels a bit helpless. That’s an absolutely valid feeling. This is a very dynamic situation that’s changing almost by the moment.
And while there’s a lot about it that is out of our control, there are also a lot of things we CAN do to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves as best we can given the current circumstances.
Here’s what we recommend focusing on:
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have put out excellent guidelines around preventing the spread of germs.
The high points are:
- Practice social distancing. Do your best to avoid contact with other humans outside of your immediate family members or roommates (those you share a living space with). Yes, this now means not going out to dinner, the movies, or partaking in other fun social activities. We’ll get to do those again soon, but for now, it’s best to stay indoors.
- Disinfect commonly used surfaces—doorknobs, tables, light switches, chairs, faucets, etc. If you or your family members touch something often, you should be disinfecting it often, too.
Remember: These strategies aren’t foolproof, but there’s plenty of evidence to indicate they can make a difference.
This very moment is a great time to start focusing on getting stronger and fortifying your immune system.
Ways to do that are:
- Put quality fuel in your gas tank. Or, in other words, try to eat lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, fatty fish, and lean protein where you can. If these things aren’t consistently available to you at this time, simply do the best you can. Every little bit counts!
- Walk the dog…even if you don’t have one! Regular physical activity will improve your fitness and your immunity. For the time being, it’s best to avoid the gym. But you can partake in brisk walks outside or things like bodyweight routines and yoga. (A quick search on YouTube will bring up many routines you can do from your living room!)
Remember: The above might not always be possible every day. Simply try to do the best you can with what you’ve got. And never forget, tomorrow is always a new day.
In times of intense stress and uncertainty, it can be hard to shift our perspective to a more positive one. Listen to what you need and do your best to do what you need to maintain a clear headspace.
Here are a few ideas:
- Be kind to yourself. It sounds simple, or maybe even a bit obvious, but being kind to yourself is super important. Try not to beat yourself up for feeling bad. And if you catch yourself thinking something negative about who you are as a person, come up with three positive things about yourself, and say them out loud!
- Practice deep breathing. This is a great way to power through moments of intense stress. To start, sit down and put your hand on your belly (if you can). Then, breathe in through your nose for a count of three. Hold it in your lungs for a few seconds. Then, breathe out through your mouth for a count of three, hold for another three, and repeat the process. Do this as many times as you need to feel a bit calmer.
- Stay connected with others. You don’t have to be in the same room as friends and family members to enjoy their company. Make it a priority to connect with a friend or loved one at least once a day, more if it lifts your spirits! You can use FaceTime or create a free Zoom account from your computer or laptop so you can “see” your friend or family member while talking with them, which may help you feel more connected.
Remember: If you feel you or a loved one needs the help of a mental professional, please call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 24-hour hotline at (800) 662-4357. You matter. Always.
Times might be tough, but we are tougher
While this is a very interesting time in our history, we know that we will weather this storm and come out stronger on the other end. It may take longer than we’d like, but we’re going to get through this, especially if we work together.
Remember, as the late Dr. Benjamin Spock shared, “A human being is happiest and most successful when dedicated to a cause outside his own individual selfish satisfaction.” In the weeks and months to come, let’s be proactive and try to focus on the “we” rather than the “me.”