Tips to help people staying home during pandemic

Linda Danjou, director of employee health and infection control at Garrett Regional Medical Center, and Amanda Shreve, occupational health nurse, consult on educational information regarding COVID-19.

OAKLAND — As people who can continue to work at home do so and social distancing and self-isolation become the norm, Garrett Regional Medical Center has some supportive tips for making life at home more bearable.

“I think it’s safe to say that socially isolating oneself and one’s family can take a toll, both mentally and physically,” said Linda Danjou, director of employee health and infection control. “The COVID-19 pandemic is changing our daily lives in ways most of us have never experienced. We want to share some pointers for making self-isolation and hearing the latest pandemic news somewhat less stressful. Fear and anxiety can become overwhelming in such situations; we want to help our community find ways to remain calm.”

• Keep connected with others using technology: Plan phone calls, Facetime or Skype with friends and family to stay connected with people while you self-isolate.

• Keep up with self-care: Include things like long baths, showers or skin treatments within your daily routine.

• Keep a schedule: The schedule should consist of routine, pleasurable and necessary activities that you can do while at home. This may include cooking, exercising, reading or getting around to tasks you may have been putting off.

• Add variety to your day: Try to strike a balance between having a solid routine and a varied day so that every day doesn’t feel the same. Adding variety boosts mood and motivation levels.

• If possible, get some fresh air: Fresh air and natural light are both helpful for well-being. Spend time in your garden. Planting vegetables or flowers, filling bird feeders and potting plants are just some outdoor activities you can use to improve your well-being. 

• Try to remain active: Think creatively about how you can exercise if you are not used to exercising at home; for example, take online classes or work out using exercise DVDs. Take a walk every day when the weather is good, taking care to social distance if you see others.

• Download a relaxation app and practice relaxation: Think of this as taking your mind to the gym. Just 10 minutes of relaxation per day is proven to reduce stress and improve well-being.

• It’s OK to feel some anxiety: It is perfectly normal to feel some stress and anxiety, and you are not the only one experiencing these emotions. When anxious, take a breath and use the relaxation app mentioned above.

• Set small goals: Do some things you wouldn’t usually have the time to do. Learn a new skill or hobby, clean out the gutters or clean up the yard.

• Take breaks from things you find triggering: Set limits on how much you engage with anxiety-provoking WhatsApp groups, social media channels and the news. Stick to reliable news sources for COVID-19 updates; locally, that means information shared on the health department’s website, GRMC’s website or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov.

“Please remember that this virus is contracted through the droplets of those who are sick and are coughing and sneezing”  Danjou said. “The droplets from coughing or sneezing can travel approximately 6 feet from the person who is ill. If you are physically close to the individual you may become infected. You can also become infected if you touch a surface that has droplets on it and you then touch your eyes, nose or mouth. This is why social distancing and self-isolation are important, even though they may be hard to do.”

Advice from the CDC includes frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds; clean all surfaces, especially high touch areas such as door knobs and faucet handles, frequently every day. 

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