I’m home with my family this morning, following guidelines for self-isolation and social distancing. It is so surreal, but here are the actionable items that I’ve learned so far from living in the time of coronavirus. Most of us will survive the coronavirus, and this is why these learnings are important to me.
#1 Respond at the first hint of trouble, not at panic time
Determining what constitutes as “the first hint of trouble” is open to debate, but I will say that I responded somewhere in the middle between “the first hint of trouble” and “panic time.”
I went to Costco two weeks ago and decided to purchase some stocking supplies. It was more crowded than usual and I could see a number of carts filled with an irregular amount of certain supplies. However, it was still a manageable crowd. I should have thought of precautionary preparation when the first case of coronavirus was diagnosed, rather than when I actually did. After all, there’s no downside to acting earlier.
A few days ago, I went back to Costco for some allergy medicine and it was panic time. The parking lot was almost full before the store even opened. The allergy medicine I wanted was out of stock, as were all of the panic items (paper towels, toilet paper, rice, pasta, disinfecting wipes, rubbing alcohol). Shoppers were elbow to elbow (great for our minimum 6ft social distancing requirement) and I am now hearing online reports from our neighbors of the continual crowds at all the local grocery stores.
#2 Always have 3 months worth on hand
Why 3 months worth? Well, I’m not sure that’s the correct number, but basically you want to be self-sufficient for some period in the event that you become isolated (due to say coronavirus, store closures, insufficient stock, or a major disaster renders everything unavailable to you except for your home (don’t forget to pack your emergency bag for when your home isn’t an option either).
Here’s what I should have had 3 months worth of:
- Food (that we would actually eat – not random cheap stuff for emergencies)
- Household supplies (paper products, cleaning, and disinfecting supplies)
- Toiletries (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.)
- Medications (common OTC items like cold and allergy medicines and prescriptions)
- Protection supplies (disposable gloves, garbage bags, plastic bags, N95 masks, face masks )
I wasn’t able to get some of these items during the current panic time. What I should have done is just gradually amassed 3 months worth of the above items like a regular consumer in the months/years prior and thereafter, just replenish stress-free any items that dipped below the 3-month threshold.
If you don’t have enough room where you live, stockpile whatever amount is realistically maintainable in your available space. If organized purchasing is not your strong suit, use an inventory list – there are many online options to help.
#3 Don’t rely on doctors or the government
. . . ever. Assess your own risk.
My elderly mom lives with us. One of my kids has asthma, as does their father. Initial government and public health/medical guidance was not enough for us. After a few days of discussion and wondering what we were waiting for, we pulled our kids out of public school. The next day, the public schools announced a 4 week closure. Given our high risk family members, I have already decided we will not go back in just 4 weeks even if that date holds true.
If we don’t get the coronavirus soon (assuming my kids didn’t just contract it at school last Thursday), I will consider ourselves lucky this time. I already know a couple of families with members who have COVID-19-like symptoms. We were late to make the right decision for ourselves. Next time, I will trust my gut and not be afraid to seem overly cautious.
As far as how to treat COVID-19 if you do contract it, Western doctors are not likely to have the best approach. Western medicine is limited by evidence-based treatment, and there has not been time for this to emerge. A more holistic approach, merging Western and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) may currently be the best option we have. For those who may be open to TCM or are familiar with it, there are clear TCM treatment plans for COVID-19 in China. These have already been used in conjunction with modern medicine for many patients in China – which certainly has experience by now. If you’re in a Western country, you’ll likely have to pull this treatment together on your own, because most Western doctors will dismiss TCM approaches completely.
#4 Change mindsets, lifestyles, and habits now
This is not likely going to be the last time that we or our children will experience pandemics or global crises in our lifetimes. I won’t miss this opportunity to make lasting changes to my own lifestyle and habits and to truly instill the same into my children so they won’t even have to think about these habits when they’re older. It will serve them well throughout their lives in any context.
- Not to touch your face. I’ve toyed with the idea of wearing gloves or taping a Kleenex to my face to make me realize when I’m touching my face. Send me your suggestions!
- To wash hands properly and automatically – we think we do, but oh, we do not. . .
Protect and boost your immune system
- Get adequate sleep – seriously, this one is so simple yet so hard for many of us
- Much of our immune system woes have now been linked to the gut microbiome. This means:
- Avoid any antibiotics as much as possible
- Minimize sugar and processed foods and eat a variety of foods, including prebiotic and probiotic foods.
- Take Chinese herbs that strengthen the immune system and respiratory system – again, I know this can be controversial, but if you happen to believe that TCM works, then look into the variety of herbs that can help, like reishi for allergies, or ASHMI for asthma (which has been studied by Western medicine).
Recognize how decisions and actions you think that you are making for just yourself actually affects other people. This applies to so many things in our lives. The earlier our children learn this, and to act on this, the better our world will be.
There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but at my age, I’ve developed some unhelpful habits and sustaining change isn’t easy. But perhaps the threat of coronavirus to those I love can give me the motivation to sustain change. Plus, I’m not elderly now, but I most certainly will be someday. Hopefully, we’ll be better prepared then to handle anything life gives us.