If you feel alone, scared, or hopeless, you're not the only one. COVID-19 is overwhelming the news and our thoughts lately. Every outlet is constantly reporting on it and leadership feels sparse, with new and conflicting information being incessantly released.
It felt important to reach out at a time like this, when the news is frightening, fear is omnipresent, and anxiety is always at the surface. During my shifts in the emergency room, there's an added sense of unease among patients and providers alike.
Rather than go into the facts and aspects of the virus, which are readily available, let's talk about what you can do.
First, as simple as it sounds, wash your hands. Don't touch anything and then touch your face. Second, make sure you're covering your cough if you feel sick and to the best of your ability, try to stay away from people if you are sick. If you have difficulty breathing, seek emergency care. Hospitals now have protocols for keeping patients isolated to protect others.
Also, make sure you're adhering to the current restrictions in your area. I know it can feel like the state health departments, CDC, and federal government are not always known for inspiring confidence, but if they are recommending shutting down events or avoiding certain areas, there's a reason for it and you can put yourself and others at risk if you don't abide by those restrictions. Keeping he virus away from susceptible people (the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) is very important.
Lastly, stay calm, and not just because panicking is harmful because it leads to actions that you'll later regret. The truth is, immunity and stress are linked. By living in a constant state of fear and worry, you are actually predisposing yourself to become sick by inhibiting your immune system's ability to fight infection. The cell that is the most studied and known to be affected by stress, the NK cell, is actually the one that helps fight viral infections.
Vaccines and specific treatments aren't available yet. The best way to prepare is to optimize your health. Be mindful and meditate every day, especially when you're feeling overwhelmed. Make sure you're sleeping at least 8 hours nightly. Avoid animal based and processed foods, and make sure you're getting plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet. As always, we're here to help. This is a scary time, but you can be ready for it.