Self-care during COVID-19

Despite the challenges COVID-19 presents us with, and they are daunting and life-threatening, as survivors of an autoimmune disease we are positioned to handle it successfully. I know that may sound odd, but it is true.

COVID-19 precautions in practice

Social isolating due to chronic condition

To start with, we deal with having to juggle our social and work gatherings on a regular and ongoing basis. Most of us, for decades or more. Not only because of the exposure to the germs and diseases others carry, but also because of the mental and physical demands of keeping up. That means we are pros at social isolating. Not because we like it. On the contrary, I hate it and I imagine you do too.

Avoiding larger crowds

But our minds know how to adjust to the reality of staying out of crowds, turning down social invitations, etc. I have been doing this quietly for 25+ years. I think it may even be to the point I have adapted to it and embrace it to some degree. I know that an evening out with a crowd of people may not be sensible if I am flaring or feeling less than strong enough to fight off any germs I might encounter.

Disinfecting surfaces in our spaces

Additionally, as survivors of the illnesses that often come our way with RA, we know that we are susceptible and that cleaning and disinfecting our homes and workspaces are essential. Many of us have been practicing these strategies for years now. Avoiding hospitals, etc., has long been a strategy I have embraced. Now, I think I will wear a mask when I go, even once this pandemic pass. It seems like a good practice for those of us with compromised immune systems.

Apply this knowledge to care for ourselves

So, with all of this in mind, we can take this knowledge and use it to take care of ourselves in this new pandemic we are exposed to. I have stepped up my practices and actually think I may add some of the new ones to my arsenal long after this hideous virus is beaten back.

For instance, I will carry antiseptic wipes with me from now on, using them to open and wipe down doors in public places. I am also doing pretty good at keeping my hands away from my face! That is a habit I want to continue. One positive thing about doing this over and over, day in and day out, is they become a habit, a good one.

How I practice self-care during the pandemic

Thanks to the additional time spent at home these days, I am trying to take better care of myself overall. That means eating in a healthier way, doing my Tai Chi and meditation more devoutly, reading and relaxing. My husband and I are playing board games more regularly and really enjoying them! 

Intentional with activities & interactions

Our walks outside are spent truly enjoying the smells and sights of the outdoors. Since we cannot visit in person with our families right now, we have online group video chats that will fill with laughter and updates. I notice we pay closer attention to each person as they speak since you can only really listen that way on video chats. There are fewer “side conversations” and talking over one another which means the time spent has deeper quality for all of us.

No question these times are trying and dangerous. But, given our base of knowledge around coping with infection avoidance, and with the proper self-care, we will survive this.  It can be a time of discovery if we allow it.

Nan

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