COVID-19: Coping with the changing times
The last week before being suspended from medical school due to the current viral pandemic was what I had been looking forward to the entire term- “Labour week”. I still remember the day before the lockdown; heading to the hospital for my night shift. The city would usually be busy with young people heading out and traffic being close to a standstill. Instead, foot traffic was noticeably lighter. I had bought a coffee at a local café as I had done so for some time now, but this time the experience was different in light of the unprecedented situation.
Like many others, I am shocked at how fast and immense COVID-19 has affected our lives. Just a few months ago, we were working on our new year resolutions, socializing with friends, and probably taking the simplest things in life for granted. Now life consists of greeting people from a distance and receiving burning stares if you were to cough or sneeze. It’s engraved in our minds at this stage- frequent hand washing, social distancing, self-isolating, no face touching, repeat.
The abundance of stats and figures in the media of daily increase of confirmed cases and deaths doesn’t help things either. Watching countries like Spain and Italy where there is an extremely unfortunate loss of many lives makes us question, will that be us next? Do we have control over the situation?
So while the coronavirus might remain to be the single most important topic on our minds, it’s best to take things one day at a time and make things simpler for ourselves by doing the following.
First and foremost, be kind to others. Spend time with loved ones that you may be social distancing/self-isolating with. Call family and friends regularly. Exercise patience, even when it becomes difficult to do so. The current times are unprecedented, so be understanding if your college professor or boss can’t give you answers to any queries you may have regarding future exams or work. Consider others when shopping. Ask yourself if you really need that extra stockpile of toilet paper.
One major problem regarding the current pandemic is the amount of misinformation that is being fed to people. The videos of unrelated events to coronavirus surfacing on platforms like WhatsApp and other misleading information are not backed up by scientific fact or approved guidance. Their only goal is to instill terror and fear among people and to result in persisting confusion.
When searching for information, its best to refer to the national guidelines in the country you’re in. The American CDC and the World Health Organisation are also constantly updating their platforms with best-practice information.
Don’t be ignorant
Yes, the overall death rate from COVID-19 appears to increase in people of advanced age and the immunocompromised cohort. Although this is the case, this does NOT excuse young and healthy people from not social distancing. Everyone is a potential source of infection and has their part to play in protecting others. It is therefore not wise to ignore national guidelines in order to protect those who are more vulnerable. The best way to protect others is by acting as if you have the infection, and thinking of the measures you would practice to protect others. Don’t make unnecessary travels. Practice regular hand hygiene and self-isolation/social distancing. It only takes complacency to have a knock-on effect and lead to unnecessary harm.
Sleep is essential
Try to retain your previous sleeping pattern. It may be difficult since many people are now stuck at home, and there may be the temptation to binge-watch tv shows or movies into the early morning hours. Make sure you get enough sleep. Your body will thank you for it.
In spite of what is happening around us, it’s best to stay motivated about something you’re passionate about. Always wanted to learn or improve on something? There are a number of free online courses popping up. Create that website you’ve thought about doing. Find yourself in a good book or dancing to upbeat music. Do whatever makes you happy. We can’t avoid boredom from time to time, but we can try to work against it.
It has been a few months now that the virus was reported to the World Health Organisation by China. Yes, the world may seem like a very scary place to live in right now. That’s understandable.
However, it’s best to have faith. Have faith that our leaders will provide us with the best protocols to follow. Have faith that COVID-19 breakthroughs will be made. Have faith in humanity and human ingenuity.
We will get through this and beat COVID-19.
Featured image: Nurselabs
Ola is a medical student at The Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI).