Coronavirus. COVID-19. Life has certainly changed since we learned those words, hasn’t it? Since it started dominating the news cycle more, I’ve struggled with how I felt about it. At first, we had so little information, I didn’t want to let the media freak me out too much. I needed more facts before I went into full panic mode… and then we got more information. And it’s not great.
Just Sunday, I was cautiously optimistic about the virus after a quick trip to Austin. I never thought that by the end of the week, we’d know this much more about it – nor did I think the NCAA tournament would be cancelled, the MLB, NHL, and NBA would suspend their seasons, all events over 1000 people in Chicago would be cancelled until May (and events over 250 people are highly encouraged to as well), and flights from Europe would be banned. To say this escalated quickly would be an understatement.
The issue now is figuring out how to encourage everyone to take this seriously, while also not panicking and letting coronavirus anxiety take over. For the skeptics, at this point we all need to remember that even if you don’t think you’re personally at risk, you could carry the virus to someone who IS at risk. It is really important that we are all super vigilant and take precautions to prevent the virus from spreading. Not only because there are vulnerable groups of people to protect, but also because we want to make sure our health care system can accommodate everyone. What’s happening in Italy right now scares the crap out of me.
That being said, I’m also not shaming anyone who isn’t locking themselves inside their home and refusing to think about anything else for the foreseeable future. We all have to be mindful, of course, but some people still have work, responsibilities, and commitments. And beyond that, we all need to stay mentally healthy, too. Stress, anxiety, and fear can actually lower your immune system… which is clearly not ideal right now.
In addition to the anxiety around everyone’s health and safety and, you know, the state of the world – I’m also getting married in a little over 2 months. Whenever I read too many articles or chat for too long about how bad this could get, my anxiety spikes and I honestly get really sad. It’s already looking likely that my bachelorette party in NYC will need to be cancelled – which is nothing compared to the actual wedding. At least half of our guest list will be flying in from out of town. What if none of them come? Will the decision to travel be clear and easy to make, or will it be a polarizing choice? What will the day be like without some of the most important people in our lives? What if we can’t have it at all??
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m VERY aware that this is a selfish concern. Every time I want to bring it up, I feel like a jerk because I know people are suffering all over the world right now. But I thought it might be helpful to explain why someone might try to latch on to hope instead of fear. Our thoughts have a lot of power, and so instead of solely focusing on negative thoughts, I’m trying really hard to put some positivity into the universe. Because what else can I do? (Besides following my tips in the list below!)
10 Ways to Stay Healthy and Deal With Coronavirus Anxiety
1. Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer.
This is a no brainer… but still worth mentioning!! We’re all used to washing our hands a normal amount – not after literally touching ANYTHING. And before touching your face! It’s an adjustment, which means it bears reminder after reminder after reminder 😉
2. Clean your phone and computer.
I am SO guilty of not cleaning my phone or computer regularly, but we all have to do it now! Leave wipes out on your desk or coffee table to remind yourself to disinfect your technology every day. These wipes are also useful if you have to use public transit, work outside of your home, or travel.
3. Limit your media intake.
When I asked what you guys are doing to cope with all of this, the majority of you said that you are trying to limit your media intake. I was so happy to see that, because this is a big one for me. It’s SO easy to get sucked into the news or endless articles. Before you know it, you’re in a funk of fear and anxiety, and it’s hard to get out of that.
Instead, I’m striving to be informed, but also to set boundaries. I am trying to get most of my information from the CDC and Jessica Yellin (I love her quick updates), but I also turn on the news when big announcements happen, or download podcasts that deep dive into common questions. And, of course, I read articles that friends and family send. And I scroll Twitter sometimes. See? It adds up fast! Figuring out what my media boundaries look like is going to be key for me over the next few weeks. Here are a few other tips from my readers on this subject:
“I muted ‘coronavirus’ on Twitter – if I need to hear news, I’ll get it from trusted sources.” (This is genius.)
“Advice from psychologist: pick only 2 credible news sources and only read those rather than a bunch.”
“Being very conscious of who I’m getting information from! CDC, WHO, doctors > media.”
“Listening to credible sources and not letting media overcome my thoughts!”
4. Avoid densely populated areas.
Based on the announcements from the city of Chicago, the city of New York, the NBA, the MLB, the NCAA (and more!), avoiding concerts, sports games, or other big events won’t be hard considering they’re all cancelled. That being said, while trips to the grocery store are obviously necessary, we can all chill a bit when it comes to extra outings – like going to a crowded bar for drinks or dining in a busy restaurant. At least until we know more. I will be digging into our wine supply at home this weekend though 😉
5. Focus on a healthy diet and hydrate!
Let food be they medicine! Before anyone yells at me, NO I don’t think food is going to cure this very scary new disease. Don’t @ me! What I am saying is that a healthy diet helps support a strong immune system. So if you’ve been talking about cleaning up your diet for a while now, this is the perfect time to do it. I did a ton of meal prep the other day and am using this as a motivator to treat my body as nicely as possible. That means lots of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and superfoods. Also, don’t forget to HYDRATE!
6. Get your exercise.
It might be true that gyms and fitness studios aren’t a good idea right now… but exercise is a SUPER important aspect of health, and there are other ways to fit it in! If you do feel comfortable going, be sure to keep your distance from anyone else working out there and thoroughly wipe down your equipment before and after.
If you don’t feel comfortable going that route, you can always go for a walk or run outside… or work out at home! I have a whole post about the best At Home Workouts – and a lot of them are free! Adam and I also bought a stationary bike this week and it couldn’t have arrived at a better time 😂 I’m excited to start using it!
7. Catch up on sleep.
If there’s one plus to all of this, it’s the excuse to SLEEP. Lack of sleep can also weaken your immune system, so if you’re used to going to bed late and waking up early because of your commute to/from work, use this work-from-home period to sleep more! And if you usually have jam packed weekends, embrace the slower pace this weekend. Take a nap! Get in bed early with a book!
8. Go to therapy or call a friend/family member.
I started writing the outline for this post on Wednesday… and things are a bit different now! That being said, finally seeing a therapist has been the best thing I’ve done for myself in 2020. If you are anxious and having trouble processing all of this, I recommend doing a little research and making an appointment. Even if the appointment is made for a few weeks from now after some of this settles, it will still be helpful.
And if you don’t want to go therapy but you could still use some support, call a friend or family member! Connections like that will make us all feel a little less alone as we figure this whole thing out.
9. Stick to other self care habits.
For me, this involves not only sticking to – but amping up my CBD routine. I use Equilbiria CBD and I’ve been keeping the oil near me throughout the day to take as needed, along with a dropper and softgel at night before bed to help me sleep. You can read more about Equilibria in this post, and use the code LAKESHORELADY to get 15% off your order if you want to try it. I’m seriously so grateful I have their products to help me through stressful situations like this. They’re the best.
Beyond CBD, this might include getting outside to get some fresh air or go for a walk. Or maybe you like to journal! Whatever it is, as long as it doesn’t put anyone else at risk, keep doing it.
10. Be open to adjusting as necessary.
Things are changing so fast – literally by the hour. Instead of planting your feet in one stance, be ready for things to shift. It would be lovely if we could all predict the future, but we can’t. The best we can do is listen to the new information we get and make smart decisions, day by day.
What else are you guys doing to take care of yourselves?
Also, does anyone know of the best ways to give back right now? I’m thinking the Chicago Food Depository is a good place to start, but let me know if you have any other ideas in the comments below!