With an increase of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) cases, it’s important that we take all necessary precautions to adjust to this new normal. By re-focusing on our own personal health, we can both slow the rate of infection and navigate what may feel like an unfamiliar way of life.
These ten tips for care during COVID-19 address both fighting the spread of infection and managing the drastic lifestyle changes to help support overall wellbeing.
It’s important to note that as we educate ourselves on the origin, symptoms, spread and prevention of the virus, fact-checking and relying on reputable medical sources is key to avoiding misinformation and rumors. For more information on fairly asked questions surrounding COVID-19, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) FAQ website.
1. Learn the Basics
In an attempt to flatten the curve and prevent infection, there are four simple actions we need to collectively take in order to be effective:
- Maintain Distance: Based on guidelines provided by local authorities, gathering in groups should be avoided, with a distance of three to six feet maintained at all times between individuals.
- Wash Your Hands: Regularly washing your hands between various activities provides more protection than wearing gloves. Why? If an individual wears gloves to the grocery store and then touches various surfaces upon returning home, they have effectively spread the virus to all those areas.
- Avoid Touching the Face: Viruses can be transmitted to the body through the eyes, nose and mouth.
- Disinfect Regularly: Sanitize surfaces inside your home frequently, taking special care to disinfect any outside products like groceries or delivery packages that you might bring inside.
2. Maintain Your Physical Health
Finding alternative solutions to the gym can have a significant impact on both your physical and mental health while following shelter-in-place regulations. If you don’t have access to weights or equipment, you can still move your body with online workout videos, bodyweight exercises and mobile apps. Here are a few resources for working out from home:
- 8 At-Home Workouts on Demand
- 53 Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do at Home
- 10 Apps for Working Out at Home
3. Assess Your Mental Health
Stress, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness can all result from coping with the pandemic and its impact. That’s why it’s critical to address your mental health right now. If you don’t have a network of individuals to talk with about your worries and fears, you can use resources like Prevention Lifelines to seek help.
According to the CDC, you can ease your anxiety and stress with:
- Physical exercise
- Online therapy
- Digitally connecting with others
Don’t forget to watch for signs of distress with your immediate family and network to support them as you’re able.
4. Wear a Mask
Wearing a mask is recommended when you’re in situations where social distancing is difficult to practice, like in a grocery store or doctor’s office, but make sure it’s actually protecting you. The material used should have multiple layers and fit snugly on the face while still allowing for non-restricted breathing.
If you don’t have access to a mask, you can create a DIY mask using materials from your home.
5. Verify Insurance and Take Advantage of Telehealth
In preparation for any medical emergency, it’s important to check with your insurance provider to ensure you understand your coverage options and necessary updates in preparation for open enrollment for 2020 and evaluate the cost for future care. With only 19 percent of uninsured individuals able to afford the cost for emergency medical care in 2019, according to HealthMarkets’ 2019 health insurance survey, don’t ignore this one.
Don’t forget to ask if your insurance includes telehealth as part of your plan. This can save you a visit to your local doctor’s office or urgent care center, and more importantly, potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Plus, more and more physicians, medical practices, mental health providers, and even dentists are now offering virtual visits in an effort to help everyone stay healthy during the crisis so you may still be able to see your own doctor.
Be proactive about reevaluating options from your employer or federal government so you can make sure you’re fully covered now and in the future.
6. Understand Workplace Safety
If your occupation is deemed essential, employing similar health practices in the workplace can help keep you and the people you come into contact with safe. For example, sanitizing surfaces, developing a response plan for potential infection, and keeping in close contact with local authorities should all be parts of your comprehensive plan to keep your place of employment safe, according to the World Health Organization.
7. Practice Healthy Parenting Tactics
Knowing how to communicate with young children during COVID-19 can help mitigate their fear or anxiety when hearing information about its effects. Focusing on a few key talking points can help them feel educated and empowered without being overwhelmed, suggests the CDC. By listening to your child’s needs and setting aside dedicated time to spend with them, you are able to address their concerns and act as an anchor for them during a time of uncertainty.
8. Travel Safely
The CDC and World Health Organization have advised refraining from all non-essential travel, but if you must commute, it’s important to strictly follow these guidelines:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If this is not possible, disinfect with alcohol-based hand sanitizer regularly.
- Avoid contact with anyone exhibiting symptoms of illness.
- Ensure you are up-to-date on all vaccines.
- Follow all other CDC-recommended protocols as released.
9. Stay Connected
Beyond following standard procedures to keep your home disinfected and clean, it’s important to still find ways to interact with local businesses, neighbors and friends in a safe way. Social media and digital communication platforms can all be used to help you feel connected to the outside world, while following the guidelines from health organizations.
10. Watch for Symptoms
If you begin to exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, quarantine from all other individuals and call a healthcare professional before receiving care. They can assess your symptoms and recommend the best path forward. Should you experience any of the emergency warning symptoms, call an ambulance immediately.
Key Takeaway – Stay Healthy During COVID
Stay healthy and happy during COVID-19 with these simple yet critical tips. Keep your home clean, travel safe, and stay connected. This can be a scary time to navigate, but it’s not impossible to get through feeling stronger than ever before.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and has more than 800 published articles worldwide. She’s written for AARP, Reader’s Digest and Lifehack and regularly contributes to Fast Company, Vitacost and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.