The second day of shelter in place here in California, where I live, one of the states hardest hit by the coronavirus. As my baby boomers husband said the other day: “Wake up to another day in Coronaville.”
“Coronavirus.” “Pandemic.” “Shelter in place.” “COVID-19.” “Social distancing.” “Self quarantine.” “Stay at home.” “Emergency closure.” “Isolation.” To think that just a month ago these words were not part of our everyday vocabulary. People in masks, empty grocery shelves, incessantly washing their hands, travel bans, schools closed, work from home, and a collapsing stock market.
This is our new normal.
On Thursday, the California governor issued a statewide stay-at-home order in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. As of today, five other states have done the same. Basically that means staying home with the exception of going to the store, seeing a relative, going to the doctor, or exercising outside (as long as you stay six feet away from everyone). Schools and all non-essential businesses have been closed. If that news wasn’t enough, the governor also warned that 56% of California’s population is at risk of contracting the coronavirus. Now, there is a sobering thought.
We baby boomers, specifically those 60 and over, well, it turns out that we are the ones who are susceptible to getting seriously ill from this virus. Although we feel young, tough, and invincible when we first hear about this pandemic, it seems like boomers are finally taking notice. And this is good.
I don’t want to be an alarmist, but can I make a suggestion? If you are a baby boomer over 65 and not in quarantine or isolation, you should seriously consider it, even if it is not currently required where you live. That is certainly the case if you have underlying health problems. I know I know Self-quarantine wasn’t exactly on their bucket list and boomers are used to an active, social life. But look at what happened in China and what is happening in Italy and Spain right now at an impressive speed.
The transmission of COVID-19 is very contagious and surprisingly easy to transmit. Now, medical experts tell us that the virus can survive on surfaces for up to three days. Younger people may not even be symptomatic, so family members or friends can pass the disease on without even realizing it. Currently, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the incubation period (the time between when you contract the virus and the onset of symptoms) for the new coronavirus is 2 to 14 days after The exhibition.
The saying, “Prevention is better than cure” has never been truer. Okay, keep reading, but please be careful folks.
So what can you do if you’re like me, stuck at home, to stop thinking about all this chaos?
Before listing 10 things you can do if you self-quarantine, remember to stay safe, but stay calm and positive. While we must take this virus seriously, do not get glued to the television watching pessimistic news reports. Instead, focus on the many reasons we all have to be thankful for. At the end of the day, acknowledge that you were given another chance to watch the sunrise, acknowledge something you have accomplished, or take note of a person you are grateful to have in your life.
Okay, here are ten ways to stay sane:
* Eat well and be active. This is not the time to stress over eating and enjoying comfort food. You’ll only feel worse in the end, trust me. Exercise, outdoors if possible. I still take walking, biking, and hiking trails, keeping a safe six-foot distance from everyone else, of course. I can literally feel the stress go away. Nature calms. However, if that’s not possible, there are tons of free exercise videos on YouTube geared toward people over 50. Look at them.
* Strengthen your connections. Stay in touch with your family and friends. I belong to a small sign language congregation and we started using Zoom for our meetings. You may be technically overdue as you’ve never heard of Zoom before, but this is a great way for a group of people to communicate with each other during these times. It is very important not to isolate yourself. You can also stay in touch with your loved ones through text messages, email, social media, Skype, or Face Time. Do you hate technology? Write an old-fashioned letter or create cards for your loved ones to love for the day.
* I feel very fortunate to be a writer, which has served me as therapy throughout my life. Take advantage of your muse. Keep a journal, write a poem, or start a blog. Begin the great American novel that has been spinning in your head. Begin that memory or family history. You will be surprised how quickly time passes. In fact, if you’ve always dreamed of becoming a writer and want to get back to the trade in your golden years, stay tuned. In my new book, due out next year, I will provide inspiration and motivation as I share my knowledge and experience to help you get started on your writing journey. What if you hate writing? Try some other creative outlet. Paint, create jewelry, sing or dance.
* You know how baby boomers are always told to exercise our brain? Now is the perfect time to do it. Why not take an online class? Make a puzzle. Learn a new skill. Do you want to learn a new language? My son, Chris Gorges, an interpreter for the deaf, offers free educational content for those who want to learn sign language on his YouTube channel on ASL Basics.
* Take your time to savor the little moments. Even during closing, you can go outside to enjoy the song of a bird, the smells after a storm, or the beauty of a sunset. Savor simple things like the first day of spring in your garden or that first sip of coffee.
* Read the books that have been gathering dust on your shelf or check out the best sellers on Amazon. Looking for suggestions? I thought Elizabeth Strout’s “Olive, Again” was brilliant. Mary Beth Keane’s “Ask Again, Yes” and Sayaka Murata’s quirky “Convenience Store Woman” were also worth it. And if you want something spooky, try Alex Michaelides’s “The Silent Patient,” Lisa Jewell’s “The Family Upstairs” or Samantha Downing’s “My Lovely Life.”
* Resist the urge to lie in bed or lounge in your pajamas all day. Get up, shower, brush your teeth, and put on nice clothes. Put structure in your day with some goals to achieve. You will feel better and it will help you maintain a positive attitude.
* Now is the perfect time for a spring cleaning. Clean out that trash drawer, get rid of the clothes you never wear, and tidy up. Do your taxes so you have one less thing to worry about. Chores will distract you and help you feel productive.
* Do you have an old guitar or saxophone in your closet? Dust off that old instrument, take lessons, or start practicing.
* Pamper yourself. Take a long bubble bath. Listen to 60’s music and dance around the house. Add your favorite songs to your playlist. Give yourself a facial. Sleep or take a nap. Look at an old photo album. Sit outside in the sun. Feel stressed? Make sure you read something spiritual and inspirational every day. Pray. Practice deep breathing. Do some Pilates. Try using an app like Calm or Headspace. Do you need any distraction? Watch an old favorite black and white movie from your childhood or a movie that makes you laugh out loud. Get a free trial of a streaming service and see everything you can before it expires.
There you go. Ten things to help you get through these unprecedented and distressing times. You are not alone. Baby boomers are going to get through this together!