5 Self-Care Tips to Survive the COVID-19 Outbreak – Sarah Kim

 

I will be honest. It took everything I had in me to wake up at an appropriate time this morning, wash up, eat breakfast, and get dressed as if I would go to work, even though I wasn’t stepping outside of my apartment. It’s been over a week since I voluntarily self-quarantined amid the COVID-19 crisis, and my days are blending together. During a time of widespread uncertainty, I find reassurance and normalcy in maintaining my daily routine. Also, I remind myself of the position of privilege that I am in as a freelance journalist and writer, I still have work flowing in and have a sense of job security for the foreseeable future.

We are facing a challenging time as a nation and as a global community. Instead of being encompassed by fear, anxiety, and frustration, we should take every step to preserve our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. With the President declaring the coronavirus outbreak a national emergency and state officials implementing “shelter-in-place” orders, it’s easy to feel helpless and scared, especially if you live with a disability and/or chronic illness.

Some recommendations set forth by the government and health agencies may be problematic for people with disabilities. For example, if you depend on a personal care attendant, you cannot completely isolate yourself, or else you wouldn’t be able to complete basic daily tasks. Or, the pharmacy is out of the medicine and sanitation products you need because of all the panic bulk-purchases by folks who don’t necessarily need them, and you already have a compromised immune system.

Lastly, you’ve probably heard some variation of the following sentence: “don’t worry, only the elderly and people with underlying health conditions are at risk.” What if you’re in the population of people with pre-existing conditions? For instance, some individuals with CP have accompanying conditions, such as a weak immune system or a chronic respiratory disease. The messaging conveys that those lives are disposable, which is problematic on so many levels.

If you feel the public has ignored you in the health crisis, we are here to tell you that you’re not alone. Here is a list of tips we’ve compiled with our CP community in mind, and we hope they will help you get through this unique time.

 

1 . It is within your rights to ask your caregiver to wear protective gear and take extra precautionary steps.

If you have caregivers whom you depend on, then you should ensure that they take preventative measures when helping you. Don’t feel ashamed to ask them to wear a mask and gloves when assisting you. Ask them to wash their hands with soap for the recommended 20-30 seconds before and after touching you. Even though you might have quarantined yourself at home, you don’t know where the caregiver has been or what surfaces they’ve touched, so it’s a good idea to take extra cautionary steps.

 

2. Don’t skip out on your stretches and exercises, even if you’re stuck at home.

With gyms closing and physical therapists canceling appointments, it’s easy to neglect your physical wellness and that could leave your muscles stiff. If you can, do the stretches and exercises at home! You can find videos of modified exercises from our Evolve21 challenge here. This can also be a fun activity to do with whoever is also quarantined with you. Let’s face it; you will run out of Netflix shows to watch at some point. Plus, exercising is an excellent way to access those happiness-spiking endorphins.

 

3. Take a break from the news and social media.

As I mentioned above, there are some negative, ableist comments being said in the news and on social media right now. Even as a journalist, I’m disappointed in the messages the media is conveying, and I need to take intermittent breaks from it periodically. In most states, emergency alerts are automatically sent to your phone, so you’ll still get the necessary information even if you turn off the news and Twitter notifications.

 

4. Keep communicating with loved ones, and ask for help!

One thing that put a big, wide smile on my face was receiving a text from a friend asking me how I was doing and if I needed him to pick up any supplies for me. During times like this, depending on your support system is more important than ever before. We are fortunate to be alive during a time when everyone is literally a few taps away — via text or video chat.

I’m pretty old-fashioned — I like to go grocery shopping by myself, in person, and not use delivery services like Amazon Prime Now or Fresh Direct. But as the number of COVID-19 cases increases, going to the grocery store seems risky. As much as I don’t want to admit, carrying the groceries home can be taxing for me. That is why, for the first time in my adult life, I asked my parents to pick up some things for me on their Costco run. Even if you take pride in your independence, don’t hesitate to ask for help, especially if it’s going to make you feel safer and make errands and chores more manageable.

 

5. Make a list of what you’d like to do after the outbreak is over.

Hopefully, the outbreak will end in the not so distant future. We all know that setting goals is one of the best ways to motivate ourselves. It’s much easier to get through a difficult time when you have something to look forward to at the end. Instead of focusing on how this outbreak is limiting aspects of your life, make a list of all the activities you look forward to doing when all this is over. Remember, this shall pass. Think of how much more you will appreciate hanging out with friends, eating out at restaurants, and resuming your daily routine when COVID-19 is finally at bay!