As the country gradually eases stay-at-home orders and prepares to reopen, it’s natural to feel anxious. The White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released joint guidelines for Opening Up America Again, and many areas are starting to do just that.
The phased opening guidelines are specifically designed to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 resurgence. Still, as eager as people are to get back to the gym or enjoy a favorite coffee shop, some may worry about a second surge and the possibility of having to stay home again. Here are some ways to manage any fears as the country begins to reopen.
STAY INFORMED, BUT IN MODERATION Gathering trustworthy information about the reopening of America can help you accurately determine your risk so you can take reasonable precautions. During the first two of the three stages, for example, you’ll want to continue sheltering in place if you’re elderly or have a serious underlying health condition, like:
A compromised immune system due to chemotherapy or other causes
Asthma or chronic lung disease
Kidney disease treated with dialysis
High blood pressure or serious heart conditions
Still, know your personal limits for all the news coming at you. The CDC recommends taking breaks from watching, reading or listening to upsetting news. Watch out for social media, too, where opinions can sometimes blur facts.
CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN TO EASE ANXIETY While it may feel like a lot of things are out of your control right now, there’s a lot you can take charge of in your life help ease your anxiety, such as helping others, fixing things around the house, organizing your closet, baking bread or listening to music. Find more ideas in these posts:
And don’t neglect your physical health, either. Self-care is as important as ever. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends maintaining a healthy lifestyle through:
Staying in touch with family and friends
CONTINUE SAFETY PRACTICES The Opening Up America Again guidelines recommend that you continue these throughout all three phases:
Avoid touching your face
Practice 6 feet of social distancing, particularly in the first two phases of the plan to reopen.
Frequently disinfect high-touch items and surfaces
Sneeze or cough into a tissue or the inside of your elbow
Strongly consider using a face covering when in public, especially when using mass transit
Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer
Note that some states, counties and towns may have stricter rules requiring you to cover your face with a cloth mask in public.
Whether you’re shopping, at the park having a picnic or in an outdoor recreation area, you’ll need to stay at least 6 feet away from others. Although social distancing may have taken some getting used to, it continues to be one of the best ways to slow the spread of the virus.
CULTIVATE YOUR SENSE OF HOPE While you’re venturing out more, consider keeping a journal to help ease your anxiety, such as a notebook to write down what you’re grateful for. Maybe it’s your health or the health of your loved ones. Or it could be as simple as being able to meet a friend in person for lunch, which is possible as early as phase one of the reopening plan. Seek Support if You Need It How are you handling the gradual lifting of the restrictions on daily life? You may have mixed emotions. Or, it may be hard to tell. The CDC suggests being on the lookout for common signs of distress. Contact your health care provider if you experience any these behaviors or feelings for several days in a row and they make daily life difficult:
Changes in appetite, energy and activity levels
Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
Feeling angry or short-tempered
Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety or fear
Increased use of unhealthy substances
Physical reactions, such as headaches or skin rashes
Worsening of chronic health problems
If you have a diagnosed mental health condition, like an anxiety disorder or major depression, be sure to continue with your treatment plan and monitor yourself for any new symptoms. Schedule an online or in-person office visit with your care provider if new symptoms develop.
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