It’s been a crazy winter.
For many of us, the Australian wildfires we started the year with are a dim memory. (Not if you were impacted, I understand that – please don’t think for a second I am minimizing that devastation)
While the 19 in COVID-19 refers to the year it was discovered, it is in these first two and a half months of 2020, that it has gone from new ‘flu-like case’ to global pandemic.
Like so many things that are (in many ways) out of our control, it is the lack of information and the plethora of misinformation that is most frightening.
If you’re in an area where there are many reported cases of COVID-19, you may be reluctant, even nervous, about venturing out into public places, even for groceries and prescriptions.
If your area is still COVID-free, you may be concerned whether the disease is lurking, still under the radar, awaiting its first serious casualty – an assignment you really don’t want.
What can you do?
The first thing I’d recommend is finding a reliable, fact-based news source that updates its information frequently. Your government’s website may be an option, an NPR news station/site in your area, the WHO website – if you’re unsure, talk to a reliable friend or even your doctor.
Once you find a reliable news source, set a time to check in for updates. DO NOT stay tuned in all day or you will believe the world is consumed by COVID. Set one, maybe two, times a day to update yourself and if you find that’s too much, do it less often. You know your stress-capacity, be kind to yourself.
Your Overall Health…
Next, take an honest assessment of your overall health. Don’t be flippant. If you can get in to see your own doctor, make an appointment and ask her/him whether your immune system is strong or weak. If you’re really not sure, talk to a few trusted family members or friends about what they think your overall health is like, whether you’d be one of the more susceptible people if you were to encounter this new foe.
As I continue this article, please know, and remember, I am not a medical professional. The information I’m passing on is gleaned from websites and new reports I trust, and now want to share with you. With a few other items of interest too!
You’ve no doubt heard…
You’ve no doubt heard everyone and their dog say you must wash your hands. When you come home, it’s the first thing you should do. I’ll admit I’m a little obsessive in this department – I even pull out a new hand towel each day. When my children were young, we told them to sing Happy Birthday to themselves (whole song, at a sedate speed) as a good timer for how long they should wash.
Cough into the crook of your arm or inside your coat. Same with a sneeze. If you blow your nose, throw the tissue out immediately and go wash your hands. Needless to say, every time you go to the bathroom, wash your hands. Regular soap is fine, it doesn’t need to be anti-bacterial.
Are you still driving?
If you’re still driving, I recommend having a package of wet wipes in the car. Although you can try to push through doors with your arm, not your hand; or use your elbow for elevator buttons instead of your finger, no doubt you will bring some foreign germs back to the car with you. Use a wet wipe to clean your hands, then wipe down your steering wheel, your gear shifter, your door handle, turn signal… anything that you use your hands for. Yes, this might sound extreme but until those germs wear fluorescent jackets, I’m taking no chances.
Don’t go to public places to fill your day. Hundreds of public events have been canceled – for a reason. Do get out and get fresh air… go for a walk in your neighbourhood, a local park, the beach. Definitely go with a friend – if you don’t know their hygiene habits you can always keep a distance between you. If you stop to talk to a stranger, keep 6 feet between you.
If you find yourself housebound, use your telephone. Set convenient times to check in with people, whether for your sake or theirs. Conversation can go a long way to relieving the stress around all the unknowns associated with COVID. If you’re talking to someone who elevates your stress though, keep those chats short and infrequent.
When you need supplies
When you need supplies, follow all the above suggestions and go get what you need. You may want to stock up a bit so your store visits are only once a week or two, but don’t buy into the scarcity mentality that has been the knee jerk reaction. Our supply chains as of the time of this article are still intact. Visit a local market or farmer and support your neighbours whose livelihood might be threatened by this. I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest you don’t need three months supply of anything right now. What you do need is to know your friends and neighbours were able to get some groceries and supplies too; and that frontline workers have everything they need.
If you qualify for the immune-depressed club, don’t be proud. If someone doesn’t call you asking if you need groceries, phone someone and ask if they can pick you up a few things next time they go. You can check your grocery chain’s delivery program but they are at full capacity in my city. As a last resort, maybe a cab company or a student next door could help you out for a fee.
If you are in the healthy and seemingly-robust club, think about family, friends and neighbours who aren’t. Give them a call or knock on their door and ask if they need anything. We’re all in this together.
For those with a computer
This next piece contains suggestions for those of you with a computer.
There are a number of ways to communicate with others via computer. Skype, Zoom, FaceBook Messenger. Ask around as there are more that I’m not up-to-speed on. Yes, there may be a learning curve but that’s good for your brain!
There are movie streaming services, too. Yes, they’ll cost you a subscription fee but most are pretty reasonable. Google links for these names: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, Crave, HBO, Hulu, iTunes, YouTube, and possibly your own tv / internet provider.
Very few of us want to spend our entire days on the computer but here are a few things that are sometimes not available that might interest you: (free at time of writing)
- Virtual Museum Tours: https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours
- Classical Music: https://www.berliner-philharmoniker.de/en/titelgeschichten/20192020/digital-concert-hall/
- Opera: https://www.metopera.org/about/press-releases/met-to-launch-nightly-met-opera-streams-a-free-series-of-encore-live-in-hd-presentations-streamed-on-the-company-website-during-the-coronavirus-closure/
- Any radio station in the world: http://radio.garden/
- Google “free during COVID-19”
- go to YouTube and write any subject or name of interest into the search bar (including “meditation” or “relaxation” if you’re feeling stressed)
- go to Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify and browse subjects of interest – there are thousands of podcasts out there waiting to be discovered.
There is also the usual list of quiet time activities (plus a few of my own suggestions):
- Read some books (online and off)
- Pick up some craft you haven’t looked at for a long time
- Check out language-learning sites and learn a new language
- Get out in the garden (Spring is around the corner) – if you don’t have one of your own, go help out an elderly neighbour.
- Grab a bag and some gloves and a long-handled grabber and pick up trash in your neighbourhood or on a local beach
Now it’s your turn…
Do you have some constructive suggestions for getting through this next “while”? My daughter was enthused about this article so she might have some ideas for younger people or parents of younger children. I’ll add those to the article when she sends them to me.
Please add suggestions and any links you have in the Comments below.
Post Script: from our readers
- A great idea from Judith at https://trueselflifejourneyjudith.com -can’t get out so stay in and get healthier! Lots of videos from Rick Kaselj here: https://www.youtube.com/user/ExercisesForInjuries/playlists And Daily OM can be found here: https://www.dailyom.com/
- My daughter Megan forwarded this list from her Facebook account – if you have children to keep busy: https://www.facebook.com/instituteofchildpsychology/posts/2672927009610971
- This link arrived in an email this morning: https://medium.com/@neilpasricha/49-things-to-do-if-youre-staying-home-due-to-coronavirus-19b9e47a3cfe
- Jane Laskey suggested Great Courses. I did find this link: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3EDD8D756C75A052
- My friend Penny sent this Canadian music link out by email: https://www.facebook.com/homeroutes/
Yikes! Megan has been busy! Here are more links, many are interesting whether you have children or not!
- Same info as above, off Facebook: https://sassysavvysuccessful.com/JNR
- Doodling (maybe for the kid in all of us?) https://www.scarymommy.com/mo-willems-lunch-doodles
- A little education for younger children: https://www.facebook.com/havefunteaching/posts/10163163916490537
- More kid stuff: https://www.facebook.com/SaddleUpFor2ndGrade/posts/1620073771478366
- Interesting virtual field trips: https://sassysavvysuccessful.com/field-trips
I’ll close this post now with somewhat lighter info about COVID: https://science.yorku.ca/research_news/biology-prof-dawn-bazely-debunks-covid-19-myths-on-cbc/