Fear spreads faster than facts.
I’ve waited on publishing anything about COVID-19 due to the overwhelming amount of “news” already flooding our brains about the subject. Most of it is fear-based opinion, sprinkled in with scientific facts. I’ve also seen so many “experts” giving their “expert opinion” on what to do… often contradicting each other. Like all experts, some are better than others, and only a few are truly experts in their field.
What we know for sure and can all agree on:
- COVID-19 is a virus that spreads via droplets, either directly (being directly sneezed or coughed on), or indirectly (transfer of infected fluid from infected person, to a surface, then to you.)
- It is not airborne
- High risk populations include the “elderly”, which currently is stated to be somewhere between 65 and 70 years old and greater, and those with compromised immune systems or health issues related to heart or lungs. So those who are 65/70+, compromised immune systems, cardio issues, and/or pulmonary issues (including asthma) are at greater risk of complications related to COVOD-19.
We are being asked to “self-isolate”, which means staying home and limited our interactions with others outside our immediate families. This is especially important if you:
- Have traveled to a known infection area
- Have traveled in general (you may be a carrier and should quarantine yourself for the recommended 14 days)
- Are ill
- Have someone in your household that’s ill
- Have someone in your household that meets the high risk definition above
When you read about “flatten the curve”, what they mean is that they are reducing the rate at which humans catch the virus. This does two things:
- Limits the number of emergent care cases that hospitals and medical centers need to deal with. With a slower onset, medical professionals can take care of each infected person, versus having to decide who will receive their limited supply of medical equipment.
- Limit the cross contamination of the population of your area. Let’s say I caught COVID while traveling home from a work trip. By remaining self isolated for the recommended 14 days (or longer) I will not infect my neighbors.
Along with self-isolation there are a few things you can do to limit infection, or mitigate your response if you are infected:
- Continue to eat healthy
- Get some movement in: Yoga, walking around your yard, playing with family or pets
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated
- Take vitamins (as you may be limiting your diet. Although the best way to get vitamins is through balanced eating)
- Wash your hands (and rinse very well), and keep surfaces clean
- Communicate with family and friends: phone calls, Skype, etc. Stay engaged with your people!
Although you may have read some alternative treatments or preventions, many of those are untrue:
- This is no time to flirt with alternative “medicines” that have been proven scientifically false, like homeopathy
- If you make a DIY hand sanitizer remember two things: it has to be MORE THAN 60% alcohol and that high percentages of alcohol is very irritating to skin (soap itself is very irritating to skin too… so rinse your hands throughly after washing). The best and easiest “recipe” is 3/4 99% isopropyl alcohol and 1/4 aloe vera gel. This makes a formula that’s ~75% alcohol with some buffering from irritation via the aloe.
- A cough, sniffle, etc doesn’t necessarily mean you have COVID. You may catch a cold, or the flu. You may have allergies. Seeing your doctor is a personal call, but I highly recommend you call your doctor if you have a high fever, or trouble breathing. Call your doctor first, even if you’re choosing to drive to an Urgent Care or ER. All medical facilities are pre-screening to reduce cross-contamination.
Our mental health in a situation like this:
- Anxiety is normal during such global issues. Fear does absolutely nothing to help you though, and can exacerbate an immune response due to a heightened fight/flight/freeze chemical response. As you’ve read, the virus becomes a problem in the body when your immune system handles it poorly. Keeping your mental health balanced will keep those hormones and biochemical responses as balanced as possible
- When you’re feeling anxious, considering writing it down… release those words, those feelings
- Practice gratitude several times during the day. Think about what you’re thankful for, what’s going “right” in your life, what you consider beautiful or loving. Nature is my “go-to” when I want to release my thoughts. I look outside, or better yet, step outside and watch the birds and plants. Breathing it in and marveling in the grandness of it all.
- Be compassionate, but don’t feed the fear. You can listen and comfort friends and family, but work towards feeding them love and support. Do the same for yourself. Feed the light and love, and release the fear.
As a leader:
- If your team is new to telecommuting, take the time to train them in how to do this. The best way to express, up front, what your expectations are regarding communication and commitment.
- Compassion to your team’s family needs are paramount right now. They may have high-risk family members they need to help. They may have children at home. They may be isolated from their family. These are all equally risky, and we aren’t the ones who should judge how others manage this situation.
- Be a model of accountability. Although we should start with compassion, we all should be accountable. There is a great deal of business risk, and as stewards of the companies we work for, we should also work towards doing our jobs as best we can under the circumstances. Never is the “work/life” balance so important as it is now.
Personally this is an interesting time for reassessment of life choices and direction. These may or may not apply to you, but I thought I’d share some thoughts… I’d love to hear yours in the comments below:
- The stock market has dropped 25-30%. Although we are personally waiting a while longer, we will certainly use this opportunity to buy more stock
- Interest rates are nearly zero. Yes, 0% federal interest rates. This means that loans tied to the fed, like mortgages, will be insanely inexpensive right now. Not only is this a great time to refinance, but an equality great time to invest in property. Those with assets and good credit will have the edge over those who don’t. This is your market to take advantage of! Considering buying your first home? Want to buy up? No better time than now.
This too shall pass and go down in history much like H1N1, don’t let COVID paralyze you. Take care of yourself and your family, keep moving ahead with your career and life, be compassionate and serving in this time of need, and plan for a greater tomorrow.
Some great sites for additional information:
You have the ability to better yourself, your life, your circumstances… start now. Need some coaching? Reach out and schedule a free 15 minute consultation. Many employers pay for wellness and leadership coaching from licensed and certified coaches. Ask your HR department about that today.