You know that moment when you first wake up and your mind is calm because you don’t immediately remember any negative things going on in your life right now?
That is exactly how I woke up this morning.
Thankful that I could sleep late because there isn’t any school for my kids.
Then it hit me.
And my heart immediately started to race.
My biggest fear is not that I or my family might get the Coronavirus.
It’s wondering what all the ripple effects might be. And the emotional toll it will take on me and others who live with chronic illness.
If you are having similar feelings and racing heartbeats, then instead of letting our emotions match the hysteria all around–let’s learn the facts.
Not the information we learn from scrolling through Facebook or Twitter.
Not even the information we see on the local and national news.
We also need to listen to our doctors, therapists, and tap into the logical parts of our brains.
✅ Why Mass Cancellations Help “Flatten the Curve” of the Spread of Coronavirus and Help People with Autoimmune Diseases
I am thankful that the local and national officials are closing and shutting down schools, mass events, and public places that are a breeding ground for any illnesses.
It’s extremely important to slow down the spread of the coronavirus-#FlattenTheCurve. (Read about what is “flatten the curve.”) The confirmed cases of the COVID-19 will inevitably grow, but the rate of which it grows will be the defining outcome of this pandemic.
As a Houston doctor explained in a press conference– if the number of confirmed cases of the Coronavirus explodes, then the people who need to be hospitalized to recover the most may be turned away.
We are seeing the dire circumstances of this play out in Italy.
✅ What the CDC Recommends for Groups of People That are at Higher Risk of Complications with COVID-19
If you live with a chronic illness (especially an autoimmune disease), then you know that having a weak or compromised immune system increases your chances of contracting an illness.
Another (maybe even more important) concern is that you are also at a higher risk of experiencing health complications if you do contract the coronavirus.
Read what the CDC has to say about specific groups who have a high risk of complications due to the Coronavirus 2019.
1. Contact Your Doctor(s)
Reach out to your doctors and let them help you create a plan for if you do contract the virus.
It’s also a good idea to reach out to any mental health professionals you have-because even if you don’t get sick, just enduring this pandemic may affect your overall mental wellness.
2. Make Sure You Have All Your Vital Medical Information with You
In the event that you do contract the COVID-19 Virus, you should have all of your medical history and current information in an easy to grab and go place. That way you can quickly give this information to the medical professionals treating you. The more organized your information is, the more quickly you can be treated for the Coronavirus.
3. Stock Up on Supplies
I am sure you’ve seen the mocking of people stocking up on toilet paper and other supplies on social media. It sounds hilarious (as this picture suggests), but the public is missing the point.
First of all, if you are quarantined friends and family can still deliver food and other normal living supplies to you–so no–you don’t need the extra toilet paper right now.
In reality, think about what supplies you would need if you were sick with a cold or the flu because that is what you want to have on hand if you get the Coronavirus.
Besides standard items you should have in case of an emergency, consider things like:
- Fluids–bottled water & fruit juice– but also drinks with electrolytes like Gatorade and Pedialyte
- Your normal prescriptions–ask your doctor to refill prescriptions early if you can
- Over the counter meds like pain relievers, cough and cold meds, allergy meds
- Vitamins and supplements
- Make sure you have a humidifier, Vick’s VapoRub
- Kleenex, Vasoline (for raw noses)
- Working thermometer
- Sore throat lozenges and sprays
- Disinfectants (like sprays, wipes, alcohol, bleach)
4. Stay Home as Much as Possible
I know this sounds obvious, but consider asking friends or family who are already out getting supplies or running errands to do them for you too. Cut down being around people outside of your home as much as possible.
Keep in mind that not only are you more susceptible to catching the Coronavirus, but that you may become a lot sicker than others if you do.
5. Create More Space Between Yourself and Others
If you do have to be around people, don’t feel guilty or weird about creating more space between you and others that are in close proximity.
6. Wash Your Hands as Much as Possible (and do it the right way)
Did you know that most of us don’t actually wash our hands correctly?
According to the CDC, this is the best way to wash your hands.
7. Use Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the amount of germs. But keep in mind that:
- sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs
- If you have dirty or greasy hands then sanitizers may not work as effectively
Make sure to rub the hand sanitizer over all parts of your hands until it dries (which should take about 20 seconds.)
Check Out This Video from the World Health Organization on What to Expect If You Get the COVID-19 Virus
✅ How to Cope Emotionally with the Coronavirus Pandemic
The CDC has some great information on Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19.
If you live with a chronic illness or a mental health condition, your perspective on dealing with the effects of the Coronavirus is a little different than the general public.
There are several smart things we can do to decrease the tendency towards hysteria that we are seeing all around us.
1. Turn off the news and stop scrolling through Facebook
This is of course not new advice because even during “normal” times, we know that watching too much of the news or living on Facebook can unnecessarily increase our stress level.
2. Take Care of Your Mind and Body
Practice deep breathing, eat well, drink water, stretch, and get some exercise. Even if you are staying home, you can turn on music (preferably upbeat) and dance around the room.
3. Do Something Fun (like a Hobby or Project)
You can do something as simple as coloring, or maybe you bought supplies for a craft project or new hobby.
This is also a good time to use your Netflix, Prime Video, or Hulu subscriptions.
As long as it’s a positive activity that gets your mind off of what’s going on around us, then something like binge-watching a series on Netflix may be something “the doctor ordered.”
4. Stay Connected with Friends and Family
Even though you may be physically isolated from others during this time, keep in contact with friends and family.
I’ve been on a message thread through WhatsApp with some friends (that was ironically named “Speaking of CoronaVirus” back when we didn’t think this would be so serious) and it has really helped to share information as it develops as well as share our feelings and reactions.
It is also helping me maintain relationships which keeps me feeling connected without having to leave my home.
5. Share Your Thoughts and Feelings with Your Support System
Being able to talk about your feelings is so helpful because keeping your feelings to yourself can just create a whirlwind of negativity that lives inside your head. By talking through your fears and concerns with others, it can help you separate the rational thoughts from the dangerous irrational ones.
6. Remember, This Will Not Last Forever
We are very fortunate to live at a time where science, research, and civilization is advanced. There will be an end to this outbreak and our lives will go back to normal–even though it may be a new normal.
✅ What Good Can Come of the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Although I do try to be a “glass half-full” type of person, living with a chronic illness and mental health condition keeps me grounded in reality.
There will be (and already are) very sad situations.
But for every tear shed, there is hope.
Hope that if next time it is a more deadly virus, we will be more prepared to contain it.
Just like after 9-11 we witnessed people and communities coming together in solidarity and support for one another. I believe we will see the same thing during this Coronavirus outbreak.