Ana Nogales, Ph.D.

Family Secrets

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

COVID-19 is an invisible enemy.

Posted Mar 27, 2020

 Gajus/Can Stock Photo
Source: Gajus/Can Stock Photo

Not only does the news change from day to day, but so does the information we are given by the same professionals and authorities. Who do we believe? Who do we trust?

In the face of such a challenge, some find it easier to ignore the situation and continue living their lives. After all, the enemy, SARS-CoV-2, is invisible. Unless one works at a hospital or has experienced or seen the effects of COVID-19, life goes on as usual.

For some, this period is akin to a vacation. From my window, I see children gathering at a park in front of my home to socialize and play sports. After all, the youth are less likely to contract COVID-19, and to them, not having to attend school is an opportunity to enjoy a sudden burst of freedom.

But the moment we turn on the TV or the radio, however, we’re confronted with a dramatic scene that seems surreal. Anxiety levels spike or one succumbs to depression and feelings of fear.

 alphaspirit/Can Stock Photo
Source: alphaspirit/Can Stock Photo

Our beautiful California, land of the sea and sun, is not exempt from this horror, and as much as we try to avoid this reality, it affects each and every one of us. The more we try to evade this horror by living our lives as close to normal as possible, the more we expose ourselves to infection and the more likely we will infect our loved ones. On the other hand, panic can paralyze us. It prevents us from thinking and taking appropriate precautions and actions. When anxiety levels are high, we tend to respond more emotionally than rationally, and when we don’t take the time to think through our actions, we can make mistakes.

How can we maintain a balance?

Be informed: The saying goes, “ignorance is the death of mankind.” Nothing rings truer in this given moment. Pretending that nothing is going on is exposing oneself to infection of the virus. Don’t allow it. Your health is important, not only for yourself but for those around you. In order to care for yourself, you need to be informed.

Limit the time you spend watching the news: Don’t constantly watch TV or listen to the radio to have the latest news. This can only create more anxiety. Limit yourself to your trusted sources and only tune in twice a day. I assure you there won’t be much change between these two news updates.

 dolgachov/Can Stock Photo
Source: dolgachov/Can Stock Photo

Practice safe distancing, but not social distancing: Human beings are social beings and we need that connection with each other. The guidance on distancing refers to “physical” distance, but we need to maintain social proximity, but for the time being, we need to do it via a phone call, texting, or through social media. Connect with one another. Call your loved ones, or that long-distance friend with whom you haven’t spoken in a while, or that special person who always comes to mind but who you’re normally unable to reach out to due to a hectic work schedule.

Your emotions are real: Accept that you are experiencing intense emotions due to the uncertainty of what’s to come. Most people feel the same. Write about your fears. The next day, read them and approach them with more clarity. You’ll see that our minds often think beyond reality and that your fears are sometimes unfounded. Respond to yourself as you would talk to a loved one who could have written that.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Get up at the same time as normal. Stick to a healthy diet and walk as much as possible or do other exercises. If you feel tense, look for relaxation exercises, and if the weather permits, catch some sun. Also, remember to take your medicine and vitamins.

 diego_cervo/Can Stock Photo
Source: diego_cervo/Can Stock Photo

Stay active: There’s always something to do at home. Organize those pictures you’ve kept in that drawer for years. Organize your closet and take out unused clothes. Or care for those plants you’ve ignored. Use your time wisely.

Create pleasant moments: Recall memories that made you happy. Enjoy some jokes because humor is always good medicine.

Speak to your family and the children without criticizing their feelings: Their feelings are valid. They have their own lifespan and are based on each person’s own experience. Respect your feelings and those of others, including the feelings of the children. Ask them how they feel and listen attentively. Talk to them about their feelings. A healthy family is built on communication and the acceptance of one another.

Life teaches us how to live. Let’s learn something every day.