Coronavirus: How to Stay Healthy and Calm During the Outbreak?

Relaxing

Relaxing

Apart from wearing a mask in crowded places, washing your hands and using hand sanitizer, what else can we do to stay healthy – and calm – during the flu season, especially in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak?

The number of coronavirus cases throughout the U.S are increasing and will continue to increase if no drastic measures are taken to contain its spread.

As I write this blog the coronavirus is now officially in all 50 states as the death toll passes 100. This blog is not to cause more fear or anxiety but rather to help you if you’re confused as to what exactly you should do and what it looks like in practice.

So what is and isn’t OK in our new world of social distancing? Can I have people over or go visit grandma? Here’s what the new CDC guidelines and other health experts have to say to help you stay healthy during the coronavirus outbreak.

Annual Health Check-up

Checkup

If you have a condition like diabetes and it’s poorly controlled, and have asthma, then when you get the flu it’s more likely to develop into pneumonia or have complications, and recovery will be slower. So, make sure everything is in good working order.

If you do feel unwell, see your doctor as soon as possible. A rapid influenza test can give you a result in 15 minutes and quickly determine what you might have. Anti-viral drugs for the flu should be taken within 48 hours, so it’s important to see your primary care physician promptly.

If you have a fever, after visiting the doctor, wait for at least 24 hours after the fever has subsided (without using fever reducing medicine) to leave home. If a family member is ill, adjust the sleeping arrangements – as best you can – so that they don’t infect other household members.

This is why the federal government is urging older people and those with serious underlying health conditions — like lung or heart conditions or a weakened immune system — to stay home and away from other people, because data shows that these groups are most vulnerable to developing a severe form of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

#stayhome, Save Lives

Woman at Home

COVID-19 is spreading, and you won’t know you’re infected until you’ve already infected others. Right now, you have no immunity to prevent you from getting the disease. It’s especially lethal for older people or those with underlying conditions.

I get it, no one likes to be isolated and sit at home and be bored. You want to be near friends and loved ones. You’re potentially worried about your neighbors and the impact on local businesses and workers. You potentially feel healthy, and how much worse can it be than the flu, after all?

You must understand that this will come to communities in waves and will be a marathon, not a sprint. But there’s something important you can do.

STAY AT HOME as much as possible. It may be in your community now or it may be soon. Until you hear otherwise from health care officials, even if you have no symptoms. That means avoiding restaurants, movie theaters, playhouses, parties or houses of worship. Basically, avoid all crowds.

What Can You Do Instead?

You can still take walks outside, shop for essentials and enjoy your online community of friends and family.

Stay connected in other ways. Check in on your loved ones and friends frequently. Keep informed about what is happening in your neighborhood.

Give to people in need in your community: supplies for food pantries, financial donations, personal hygiene items.

Buy online gift certificates to your favorite local stores and restaurants — and use them when this is over.

At LEVEL4 PT & Wellness we have “better health”, Pilates, and Therapeutic Massage gift certificates for sale. What better way to give the gift that keeps on giving. The gift of better health. To learn more on how you can purchase one for a friend or loved one contact us at (760) 503-4440.

Wipe Right: Use ammonia or Alcohol-Based Products. Skip the Baby Wipes!Wipes

The good thing about COVID-19 is that it does not require any unique cleaning chemicals to disinfect hands and surfaces. You can also use a wipe, but make sure you use an alcohol-based wipe, not baby wipes, which may not be effective.

And given that wipes are hard to come by at many stores at the moment, you can instead buy an EPA-registered disinfecting spray, such as one on this list from the Center for Biocide Chemistries, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Or make a bleach-based spray yourself. You can make a DIY cleaning spray by mixing 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water, according to the CDC.

Can I go to a restaurant, food court or bar?

Restaurant

According to Monday’s new guidelines, no — at least not for dining in. The CDC says people should use drive-through, pick-up or delivery options instead.

When you get home with your food, you could take it out of the containers, throw those out, and then wash your hands thoroughly before eating. You want to take reasonable precautions to be safe.

Luckily, the food itself is probably not a major risk factor because most infections from the new coronavirus appear to start with the respiratory system, not the digestive tract.

Again, on a grassroots level, I urge you to support your favorite local restaurants and retailers by buying gift certificates that you can gift or use later.

Wash. Your. Hands. (Seriously!)
coronavirus

Yes, you’ve heard it a hundred times. So do it, already! Especially after you’ve been out in public, touching a lot of surfaces. Lather up with soap and scrub for 20 seconds. (Two times the “Happy Birthday” song, or sing “the ABCs “ once.

And be thorough. Spend some time rubbing the backs of your hands as well as the front, interlace your fingers and pull them through, soap up each thumb with the opposite hand and, finally, to keep your fingernails virus-free, lightly scratch them against your palm.

Hand-washing is so important that if everyone followed good hand-washing hygiene, it could prevent an estimated 1 in 5 respiratory infections, according to the CDC — that’s the equivalent of about 6 million cases of the flu this year.

Hand Sanitizer: DIY in a Pinch?

Hand Soap

Hand sanitizer is effective at killing viruses, too, although hand-washing is preferred, according to the CDC. If you can’t get to a sink, hand sanitizer is a good backup plan — just make sure it’s at least 60% alcohol.​​​​​​​

Given the shortage of hand sanitizers in some stores and reports of price-gouging online, there’s lots of interest in Do-It-Yourself (DIY) hand sanitizer. We’ve seen lots of recipes calling for a combination of rubbing alcohol and aloe vera gel, like this one from Wired.

If in doubt when making these homemade sanitizers, soap and water are still effective against the virus.

Goodbye Handshake. Hello Elbow Bump?

Elbow Bump

The handshake, a staple of a greeting in the U.S., is under siege. The coronavirus is reshaping social and workplace norms, so keeping one’s distance is now the polite thing to do and that’s made the handshake taboo.

As the novel coronavirus spreads around the globe — along with expert resources and information on preventative measures — more people are coming up with creative ways to avoid unnecessary touching.

So what replaces the handshake? That’s up for grabs, so to speak. There’s the fist bump. Or the elbow bump. Or a prayer gesture. And so far, elbow bumps seem to be catching on as the go-to greeting.

Everyone from high-powered political leaders and health officials to professional athletes have taken on the tactic to safely say hello without making too much contact.

While there has been some levity around the cultural shift, it’s still raising awareness for folks to practice smart, healthy habits.

So the safest way to avoid transmission is to avoid all contact, experts say. That may mean a simple wave or a grander “Namaste” bow instead of a hand or elbow.

“Namaste,” the Indian style of greeting familiar to yoga practitioners, includes a prayer-like hand position and slight bow.

Your Smartphone is Like a Third Hand

Phone

Wipe it down!

So you’ve just washed your hands and you’re feeling squeaky clean. Then you pick up your cellphone that’s been God know where, and guess what? It’s covered with potential pathogens.

Studies have shown that smartphones surfaces are covered in bacteria, including bacteria that can cause serious infections like Staphylococcus species.

And phones are often held close to the eyes, nose and mouth, where germs can enter the body. So wipe it down often.

And you don’t have to rub down your phone for long if you’re using an alcohol-based sanitizer. Just a few seconds should be sufficient to disinfect.

Try This Stinky Trick to Stop Touching Your Face

Onion

As mentioned in the prior section, your face offers multiple entry points for the virus. So every time you touch your eyes, nose and mouth with grubby hands, you risk infection.

If you have touched a table or a doorknob or some surface contaminated [with the virus] and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you have a chance of inoculating yourself with the virus.

But, as a matter of habit, most of us touch our faces up to 23 times an hour without even realizing it.

So, here’s an idea. “After you wash your hands really well, touch a piece of raw onion,” says Catherine Belling of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. With this strong smell on your fingers, “you’ll notice when you touch your face,” she says.

Sure, it may make you a tad antisocial, but it could be a good way to train yourself to touch less.

And by the way, you should be socially distancing yourself anyways!

Defend Yourself with Powerful Nutrients

Fruit

Dietitian Sally Poon’s top three nutrients to ensure a strong immune system are vitamin C, zinc and iron. The benefits of vitamin C to boost immunity are well documented and Poon reminds people to take it before the onset of cold or flu symptoms.

“Try to get your vitamin C in its natural form, unless you know you aren’t getting enough from dietary sources,” says Poon, adding that citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and kiwis, as well as guava, bell peppers and broccoli, are all good sources.

To get enough zinc, she recommends eating oysters, poultry, fortified breakfast cereals, beans (especially cannellini beans and chickpeas) and nuts (cashews and almonds).

If you are getting enough zinc in your diet, then you are likely getting enough iron as the two are in a lot of common foods. “Vegetarians must make sure they eat the plant-based iron with vitamin C, which can enhance the absorption of plant-based iron.”

Sleep Well

Sleeping

Ensure you get enough sleep – “critical for the healing rejuvenation of your body” – and reducing stress. If the body is in a constant state of stress it can inhibit some of the immune functions.

So, if you enjoy yoga, cooking, an art class – whatever you enjoy – make sure you have some time for yourself.

Maintain Training, Keep Moving

Exercising

Viruses tend to affect people who are weaker. If you are fit and training, your body is stronger and better able to fight a virus.

The fitter you are, the stronger your immune system. I encourage people to keep training and moving – and vary your gym workout so you are using more muscle groups, a range of motions, combining push, pull, rotational and core exercises. Mix it up.

At LEVEL4 PT & Wellness, we provide our fitness clients with home workout programs via email while they’re abiding to the social distasting request by the CDC. No equipment is needed, just a body.

Stay Calm and Don’t Panic!

Relaxing

Panic is not the solution to any of the problems we are currently facing or throughout our lives. Yes, it’s true that we all get tensed and stressed during difficult situations but we should try to keep ourselves calm and composed.

Whenever a problem arises, like this coronavirus has hit the country, we all should keep faith in ourselves and make sure that we take all precautionary measures beforehand. After all, prevention is better than cure.

Keep yourself engaged, start meditation, read about good things. It’s agreed that coronavirus is affecting us all but we can’t let it be stronger than our mindset.

News reports about the Wuhan coronavirus, the craziness at the supermarkets, and seeing everyone wearing a mask can lead to stress and anxiety. If you are feeling anxious, take a moment or two to acknowledge feelings of anxiety and you will feel more emotionally stable

Facing the difficult feeling will help it dissipate. Trying to ignore it expends energy. To face it and feel it helps us realize that the fear isn’t actually that tough to be in – it’s just a feeling.

Afterwards, you are more emotionally stable and can see the situation more clearly.

Sometimes anxiety leads to panic because first we feel fear, then immediately don’t want to feel it, and try to run from it. We get panicked because no matter what we do to get away from our fear, it’s still there, and then we get more panicked. It can be a vicious cycle, especially when you throw in a tendency to catastrophize when we’re scared.

Just look all around you and you see the countless evidence of panic at its best. Don’t believe me? All I have to say is two words and you know what I’m talking about. Ready? “Toilet paper”.

If people are in fear or worried, their body is in a stressful state, a sympathetic state. A breathing technique known as ‘box breathing’, as practiced by Navy Seals, can help you stay calm. You inhale through your nose for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds, exhale through the nose for five seconds, and then hold your breath for five seconds – that’s one round. Doing five or six rounds when you feel stressed will lessen your anxiety.

Again, try to be calm, don’t panic, and take care of your health.

So, if you enjoy yoga, cooking, an art class – whatever you enjoy – make sure you have some ‘me’ time.

Conclusion

Since it’s flu season, the best thing you can do is to reinforce your habits and take proper precautions in the same way you would handle the flu or a cold. Wash your hands, wipe down hard surfaces and your cellphone with the appropriate wipes and disinfectant products, and avoid handshakes with other people at all costs.

Make sure you get your annual health check-up to assure everything in your body is in its best working order.

Remember to do your part with social distancing yourself and staying home. You can always connect with family and friends online or with a simple phone call.

Be vigilant with avoiding spaces where you can’t keep distance from people. Grocery stores are the worst place because people are essentially “hunting and gathering” and may not care about their proximity to you as they reach for a product or rush for a spot in line to pay.

Remember to eat healthy, refrain from touching your face, get plenty of exercise and sleep to help keep you active and strong and your immune system at its best.

If the body is in a constant state of stress it can inhibit some of the immune functions so be calm and don’t panic.

Take measures to protect others and those precautions will also help you. Pay attention to measures recommended by your local health officials since someone living in the city, for example, will have to be mindful of different environmental factors than someone who lives in the city.

Lastly, these are truly uncharted times and we’re learning right alongside you as we navigate COVID–19 together.

Through this blog post I’ve tried to provide you with as much helpful information as possible. Within these past several days am I very proud of the swift decisions we are making here at LEVEL PT & Wellness, and we will always do what’s best for our clients and team members.

As the situation continues to evolve, we will provide you with additional blogs, but through it all, we will lead through the lens of Our Mission and Values which is to inspire and nurture the human spirit — one life at a time.

So let’s all take a step back and take a deep breath. Let’s use common sense. Let’s be practical. Let’s not overreact. Let’s do this together!

In health,

Dr. Oscar 😉

Oscar Andalon, DPT, STC, MTC, CSCS, CF-L1, MWOD, USAW, FMS/SFMA

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