How to Cope During a Pandemic
In March 2020, our lives changed out of nowhere and we have been learning and adapting over the months and making decisions for what is best and safe for our families.
We weren’t given a rule book, but rather instructions that are ever-changing as we learn more about the COVID-19 virus. For some, their decisions are stricter due to being high-risk or having a high-risk family member whereas others are only taking the precautions they have to. Marissa Leslie, MD, chief of psychiatry with Adventist HealthCare, discusses how you can support yourself and others during these uncertain times.
It can be frustrating and tiring having to carefully think about everything you’re about to do, constantly asking yourself:
- “Is this safe?”
- “Is this a high-risk or low-risk activity?”
- “How do I tell my friends/family I can’t/don’t want to hang out with them right now?”
Some people have a ‘quaranteam’ where they spend time with a select group of people that they know are taking the same precautions as them whereas others are sticking close to their immediate family. Whichever approach you are taking, you know you’ve made the best choice for the situation that you are in.
“Throughout this time, if there is an activity you don’t feel comfortable doing or a group of people you don’t feel comfortable hanging out with, then you don’t have to. It’s important to recognize you need to take precautions that protect yourself and your family,” explains Dr. Leslie. Everyone is trying to do their best right now and the one thing you can do and control during a pandemic is putting you and your family first.
High-risk family members
Each family is different. Some have high-risk family members while others do not. It’s important that while you may not have a high-risk family member, you understand that others do and are going to take precautions that may look different from yours. It’s also important to recognize that people do not have to disclose to you that they have a high-risk family member or that they themselves are high-risk. If you have a high-risk family member, you may take precautions like:
- Opting for curbside or delivery for groceries
- Showering immediately when you get home after being in public
- Washing clothes after being in public
- Choosing not to visit with others even from a distance
Even if you don’t have a high-risk family member, you should continue to take precautions of:
- Washing your hands frequently
- Using hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available
- Covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow
- Limit touching your face
- Maintain social distance from others
- Wear a face mask whenever in public and also indoors when with others not in your household
Respect other’s choices
“Respect is something each person can control and give to one another during these uncertain times. It’s also one of the best things you can do during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr. Leslie. With constant questioning, fear and unknowns, respecting someone’s choices and decisions can mean a lot. Knowing what the right answer is can be difficult and sometimes takes a lot of thought and going back and forth and even then, people may question if they made the right choice.
If someone says they don’t want to partake in an activity or get together, you need to respect it. The pandemic world is something everyone has to adjust to. “If someone does not want to do something, don’t guilt them or take it personally. They have the right to say no whether they give a reason why or not. Also, respect your own choices to refrain from activities you don't feel comfortable participating in. Persuasion can make us question ourselves. Take time to respect your personal choices,” says Dr. Leslie. With knowing so little about the virus, but learning more each day, people are just trying to do what is right for them. Dr. Leslie adds, “if someone doesn’t want to meet up in person, schedule a phone call or video chat to check-in and catch up.”
Respecting the decision someone made for themselves or their family can make someone feel better about their choice. With so much uncertainty in the world today, showing respect and understanding can go a long way.
Everyone is tired of overthinking every choice they make to decide whether something is low-risk or high-risk for COVID-19. COVID fatigue is not only occurring to healthcare workers, first responders and other essential employees, but also the general public. To combat the frustration associated with making decisions and living in a COVID world, there are some things you can do to help, these include:
- Talking with friends and family
- Speaking to a professional via telehealth
- Inspiring activities
Living in a pandemic world is tiring and frustrating. Although our situations are different, we’re all in this together and supporting one another is one of the best ways we can all get through these uncertain times.