Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to use my emergency management/first responder skills to come up with a list of suggested dos and don’ts to help you get through quarantined life.
Here's some advice on some common topics that people have been asking about:
Rubber gloves: Remember, if you’re using disposable gloves in the grocery store, you could be cross-contaminating the next item you’re taking off the shelf. If you choose to wear gloves, make sure you wash your hands each time you’re handling the food once it’s in your home, and it’s a good rule of thumb to always wash your hands before you eat. Remember to also wash or sanitize your hands before and after you complete your trip to the grocery store, gas station, ATM or any other essential chore that takes you out of your home.
Masks: I’ve seen plenty of “do it yourself” mask-making tutorials. I’m not a doctor, but remember that the CDC says a cloth covering is better than nothing. The goal is to minimize the spread of germs. Even a winter scarf or bandana could make a good alternative if you don’t have elastic bands for the DIY masks. And don’t be shy about wearing your mask - we are all in this together.
Alcohol consumption: I’ve seen a lot of people joking about their alcohol consumption going up while quarantined inside their homes. It’s good to remember that alcohol is a ”downer” or depressant, and overuse may exacerbate feelings of anxiety or loneliness and can disrupt sleep patterns as well. Also, according to the Cleveland Clinic, “alcohol can weaken the immune system and make body more susceptible to infections.” I’m not saying you shouldn’t drink at all, but moderation is key to maintain your health and happiness.
Exercise: We have probably all heard that exercise releases endorphins - it’s an “upper”. My wife’s favorite saying is “you’re only one workout away from a better mood.” There is some truth to that because of the endorphin release during a workout, not to mention the feeling of accomplishment after completing it and knowing you’ve done something good for your body and your mind. Don’t have gym equipment? No worries, try a couple laps on your stairs instead of the StairMaster, lift some soup cans instead of weights (or any other objects that are of a weight you’re comfortable lifting), walk around your block twice instead of once - get creative. There are also a lot of exercise videos online and on YouTube that you can follow along with that don’t require equipment.
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Shopping: Try to look into the future to see how you can make life easier. For example, worried about running out of toilet paper? See how much toilet paper you or your family uses over the course of a day. (If you want to take an average over a couple of days, you can you that, too.) Say you have 9 rolls left and your family uses a quarter of a roll per day, you should be good on TP for 36 days! It’s also good to meal plan and prep - literally plan ahead for what you’ll need to eat for the next 1-2 weeks. Take stock of what’s in your pantry and refrigerator and make a list of items you may need. This limits both the number of trips to the grocery store and the time you spend in the store. It may even help to put items on your list in the order that you walk through the store - say you enter at the produce section and end in the dairy section, list your items in the order of the store layout to help limit the time you are there. Try to plan meals with ingredients that can be used for more than one recipe (flour tortilla shells make great tacos and breakfast wraps!), or try make enough for dinner to last for two nights. Grocery delivery requests are at an all-time high, so it may be hard to find a time slot or day that works for you. Keep your list handy and check these services at off-times to see if any time slots become available. Some people say they’ve had success late at night or early morning.
Breathing: Relax. Breathe. Deep breathing not only makes you feel good because you’re getting more oxygen in your system, but it also relaxes you. Unfortunately, stress and anxiety can also weaken your immune system, according to the Cleveland Clinic, so it’s important to take time to refocus and recenter yourself. I know, it’s tough to not be stressed or worried, but try to make time in each day that you can quiet your mind. There are a lot of great meditation apps out there and a quick google search can help you learn some new breathing techniques.