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With all the Coronavirus uncertainty happening right now, it’s important that we stay calm, avoid panic-based decisions, and take action in ways that help keep us, our families, our community, and our country safe and healthy. But what does healthy, calm action look like at a time like this?
Here are my top recommendations for navigating this public health emergency without fear.
1. Stay home!
You’re less likely to get sick or spread the virus to others if you don’t leave your house unless necessary. Cancel any events with more than 50 people and stay away from any high-risk populations, such as older adults and those with chronic illnesses. You may want to consider canceling even smaller events, or meeting with friends and family virtually (hello Facetime!) instead of in-person. (3/16 5:00 PM ET Update: The White House has advised people not to gather in groups of more than 10.)
2. Wash your hands!
Take at least 20 seconds to wash, and dry using a clean towel. Sing the Happy Birthday song twice or use a phone timer to learn what 20 seconds feels like. Or watch this video from the Holderness Family for some fun and creative songs to sing instead. If you must use hand sanitizer, be sure it contains at least 60% alcohol. Here’s a DIY recipe if you can’t find any hand sanitizer in stock.
3. COVER YOUR MOUTH
Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your arm. Wash your hands immediately after blowing your nose. Don’t touch your face without washing or sanitizing your hands first. If you’re sick and coughing and sneezing a lot, either don’t leave the house at all or if absolutely necessary to leave, use a mask to prevent the spread of your own infection. (And remember, a mask is not recommended for healthy people as it likely won’t prevent you from contracting a virus.) Update 4:00PM ET 4/10/20: Masks are now being recommended by the CDC, but there is a question of how effective this is. Click here to read more about masks for COVID19.
4. Clean Your House
Use CDC-approved sanitizing cleaners in your home to minimize the transmission of pathogens, especially if you have anyone coming into your home for any reason. Here’s a list of recommended cleaning strategies to use to minimize contact transmission in your home or office. I personally bought a product called Simple Green Pro3 which is an approved virucide effective against coronavirus.
5. EAT REAL FOOD
Eat real, home-cooked food as much as possible. Focus on nutrient-dense animal and plant foods, such as whole meats, eggs, seafood, vegetables, and fruits. Frozen and canned food is just fine here too! Consider stocking up on some frozen veggies or fruits if you think you might not be able to hit the grocery store for a couple of weeks. Obviously don’t hoard food, just buy enough for an extra week of groceries.
6. Don’t Overdo Junk Food
Minimize processed foods and alcohol. Many people are loading up on junk food and booze like this is some kind of Superbowl party. Your body doesn’t need extra inflammation or toxin overload right now, so practice moderation with enjoyment foods and beverages. Having a glass of wine is one thing, drinking an entire bottle to try to “decompress” is another. Please hear me when I say this isn’t about restriction, it’s about treating your body with kindness and not using food or alcohol to cope with tough emotions.
7. Sleep 7-9 hours per night
There’s little excuse for most people not to sleep more right now. This is a great opportunity to REST especially if you’re off of work or your kids are out of school! Go to bed earlier or wake up later than usual if you have the chance. Sleep as much as your body wants you to. How often does the entire world shut down and force people to have downtime? (Answer: literally never.) Take this opportunity to rest and don’t fight it. You will survive being bored and unproductive for a few weeks.
8. Move Your Body
Continue GENTLE daily movement like stretching, bodyweight exercise, and walking. Do a yoga class in your living room. Unless your community has a restriction in place, you should be fine to walk outdoors. Consider skipping all high-intensity movement which can suppress your immune system. Don’t go to the gym unless you know the equipment has been sanitized (or sanitize it yourself). Remember, taking a couple of weeks off of exercise isn’t going to kill you. Also remember, if you’re a member of a locally-owned gym, these businesses are at high risk for closure right now, so if you can spare the finances, DON’T cancel your membership. Otherwise, you may not have a gym to come back to once this is all over!
9. Keep your mind active
Play games with your kids, put a puzzle together, read that book that’s been sitting on your bookshelf. Are there any projects you could be working on right now that have been put off? If you’re a business owner (like me!) is there any way you can step up as a leader and create some support tools for your customers and audience? Get creative and don’t waste the next few weeks bingeing on Netflix and Disney+, or anxiously scrolling your phone looking for the latest news update.
10. Support your immune system
While there’s no cure known for the virus, we know that certain nutrients like vitamin C, zinc and copper can greatly support your immune system. Supplementation may help ensure you’re getting enough (but over-supplementation may cause harm). Be sure to check with your personal healthcare provider to find out if supplementation might be a good idea for you. Download this detailed guide from Chris Masterjohn, PhD to help navigate supplementation questions. (Updated 3/17)
11. Help those in need
Donate MONEY if you can, which is the universal tool for non-profits to support their communities. I’ve personally donated to a local food bank called the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle to help them fight hunger in the Raleigh, NC area and support the most vulnerable during this time of crisis. Look for ways to support your local community and make a difference in keeping everyone healthy and safe, not just yourself. Like I said, money is typically the best way to help out if you’re not already directly involved with an organization.
12. TRUST GOD with the outcome
It’s easy to get anxious and fearful in such a tumultuous time. Remembering that God is in control can keep us from getting overwhelmed or frightened. I’ve found that playing worship music has helped keep my emotional state grounded and at peace, reminding myself that God is meeting my needs and guiding our human response to this pandemic. If you want to listen to some great worship music, click here to check out my worship music playlist on Spotify.
I hope these tips will help you navigate this unprecedented time with peace and comfort, rather than panic. Feel free to SHARE this blog post with your friends and family.
❤️Laura Schoenfeld, RD