What can we do for ourselves and our community?

by Dr. Donna Williams
Associate Dean for Practice and Community Engagement at LSU Health School of Public Health.

My octogenarian parents are experiencing cabin fever.  Even into their 80’s they have remained active.

Since their ages bring increased risk, they are being super cautious.  However there is a calm about them.  They were children during WWII when supplies were extremely limited. My mom tells that she does not drink milk because they only had powdered milk when she was a child which she says is disgusting.  My dad’s family lived in an apartment with no bathroom during the war. They have also lived through several recessions, 911, and Katrina.  They know all too well one of life’s great truths:  this too shall pass.

We WILL come out on the other side of this.  Some things will be forever changed, like TSA post 911.  But we will regain normalcy. In the meantime, take care of yourself and take care of others.

Take Care of Yourself

  • Keep a routine.  Get up, brush your teeth and hair, act like you are going to work.  Set up a workspace and report there.  Take a lunch break.
  • Exercise and get fresh air.
  • Try new recipes with whatever you have around the house.
  • Clean out that cluttered closet or drawer.  It’s immediate gratification.
  • Read a book.  The public libraries have download options.
  • Listen only to the experts (Dr. Fauci, the World Health Organization, the governor, the health department) and don’t entertain conspiracy theories. That being said, don’t be hyper-vigilant and go crazy keeping up with every new story.
  • Connect.  Use zoom, the phone, email, or yell to your neighbor across the street.  Physical isolation does not mean emotional isolation.
  • Ask for help if you need it, emotional or tangible help.

Take Care of Others

  • Check on your neighbors (from a safe distance) particularly if they are elderly.
  • If you are going to the store or the pharmacy, see if anyone in your family or any neighbors need anything.  This will help others and reduce the density of people in those places.
  • Foster a dog or cat.  Shelters and rescue organizations need help right now.  Pets have been shown to help with mental health.  Walking a dog is great exercise.
  • Join the Medical Reserve Corps.
  • Contact United Way or VIA for volunteer opportunities.
  • If you have the resources, donate.  The need is great and will continue to grow as more people find themselves out of work.  One suggestion is Second Harvest Food Bank. They are also taking volunteers.
  • Consider giving blood. We are encountering a major blood shortage so if can help, please consider reaching out to the American Red Cross and others.

So stay in touch with each other, stay connected, go for a walk, sit outside and yell to your neighbors, catch up on your reading.  If you have not figured out zoom, it is a great tool and really easy to use.  Wash your hands and stay safe.

And reach out to someone if you need help.

Here’s hoping to we’ll all get a chance to be with each other soon. Because remember: this too shall pass.