Stress is a natural reaction to situations that require a response. You feel this way because you desperately want to help in any way you can. And although this global situation is not one that can be solved by a single person, there are things you can do to help keep your family healthy and prevent additional spread in your community.
Protect Yourself and Others
Now that the first wave of COVID-19 has passed and the second is on the horizon, the world knows a lot more about fighting the virus. Run through this checklist to make sure you are reducing transmission as much as possible.
- Wear a face cover. COVID-19 is an airborne virus, so cover up before you go outside. Masks, scarves, and bandanas are all viable options; just make sure your nose and mouth are covered with as few gaps as possible. Cotton, silk, and flannel offer some of the best filtration.
- Wash your hands. Soap destroys viral particles. Stop transmission by washing your hands with soap after you touch anything that you think could be contaminated. You should also clean surfaces and items with either soap or another disinfectant.
- Order delivery. Grocery stores and retailers are working hard to move goods with as few points of transmission as possible. If you have the option, get your items delivered to avoid complicating the system further.
- Shower and change clothes. If you must leave the house, assume that you are contaminated when you re-enter your environment. Take a shower, do a load of laundry, and leave any items that cannot be washed in a “contamination zone” for 2 to 5 days.
- Avoid closed areas. COVID-19 is an airborne particle. Just as steam gathers in the bathroom, an enclosed environment can quickly become saturated by the virus. Do business outside whenever possible, and disinfect after entering a brick-and-mortar establishment.
Maintain Your Health
Despite your best efforts, there is a good chance that you will come into contact with COVID-19 at some point over the next few months. You can take proactive steps now to bolster your immune system and shorten your recovery time as much as possible. Watching your health will also lower your stress level; you might be surprised at how much of your anxiety is sourced in physical discomfort.
Start by improving your diet and your sleep schedule. Eat wholesome food that contains protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Get a full 8 hours of sleep a night, and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Stay away from anything that might directly compromise your immune system. Avoid alcohol in particular; you should also be wary of any natural remedies that are not backed by modern science.
Should you notice actual symptoms of COVID, make sure to stay calm and rest. Hot baths and showers will help relieve the symptoms of pneumonia. Wash your water cup with soap between uses to keep your viral load down and prevent spreading particles around the house. Seek medical attention if you have difficulty breathing or experience heart problems.
Find Community Online
One of the biggest causes of COVID-related stress is the complete disconnection from your previous social environment. Visits and gatherings are not safe, but that doesn’t mean you need to be starved for human interaction.
The internet has become a social haven for anyone who can go online. Stay in touch with your own social circle through social media, group chat, video games, and email threads. You should also look for digital public spaces dedicated to your hobbies, interests, and profession.
As you reach out digitally, take this opportunity to notice the impact that other people have on your mental state. Avoid online interactions and spaces that make you feel anxious, angry, or unsafe. Prioritize contact with friends and family members who offer you healthy and loving interactions. By building a strong social network, you will help reduce the stress of everyone in your support circle.
Stress management is a combination of taking action and maintaining a balanced mental state. This advice is meant to help you feel empowered and capable of protecting yourself when the second wave hits your community. Depending on your level of anxiety, you may also want to supplement these tips with common stress-reducing tactics like mediation and exercise. Remember that although we all cope in different ways, everyone is in this together. Stay strong; we will get through this.