“I started going to a local church in the last half of 2019. It started as me trying out the church and loving it, and then eventually trying to sneak in after the ‘meet and greet’ portion, and then soon after, I had to watch the online services every week.
In case you’re curious about why I’ve been having to isolate myself, it’s because I have Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and an immunodeficiency disorder. So I’ve got a few shout outs in the ‘high-risk categories’ that you’ve been hearing all about with the recent outbreaks. I am advised by my doctors to practice ‘social distancing’ as best I can all year long, but it’s during the cold and flu season I’m more likely to execute it in full force (aka stubbornly give in). It turns out that having these illnesses makes me a pro at picking up whatever bugs, viruses, and illnesses that healthy people leave around throughout the year without thinking twice about it. As someone who is like Olaf and loves warm hugs, it can become problematic quickly.
Even though I’ve been practicing ‘social distancing’ since childhood, one thing I’ve realized is that each year is just as challenging as the last, if not more. Partially because my sisters also have CF and we have to practice the 6 Foot Rule at all family get-togethers.
Making friends as an adult can be hard enough even when around people. Even though physical health will benefit from everyone laying low for a while, I know firsthand that emotional, mental, and spiritual health can take a huge hit during times of quarantine, social distancing, lockdown, isolation, or however you want to label it. This will probably be the first time many of you have gone through this, so let me be the first to say this: Welcome to the club! It’s probably going to get tough, but you’re going to be okay. Here are some simple steps that can hopefully help get you through.
1. Have a daily schedule. On this schedule include the following:
–Shower, brush teeth, put on a fresh set of clothes: it seems dumb to even say, but when you’re not around people for an extended time, it can get easy to get lazy in making yourself feel good. Basic hygiene is an easy way to help you feel refreshed and renewed. And clean. (It’s also for the sake of those around you.)
–Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water.
–Keep with the same daily sleep schedule as best you can: try to go to bed and wake up around the same time. Even if you have nowhere to be at a certain time. Good rest is a good way to stay sane, but this is also a good time to practice the art of napping during the day if needed
–Step outside: go for a walk, sit on the porch, physically put yourself outside every day. No matter the weather, fresh air is good for you.
–Put electronics on silence: put the phone and computer down for a bit. Step away from all the alerts, notifications, and news for a little while. When you’re only getting fed stress and negativity, it makes it harder to think clearly and cope with anything.
–Acknowledge what you’re grateful for daily: whether you speak it or write it down somewhere for you to see. One to three things every day, big or small, so you can realize life is still okay despite what you’re going through.
2. Reach out to folks during this time!
This is a great time to catch up with people. Don’t let too many days go by without intentionally reaching out to someone via text, phone call, FaceTime, etc. Limited conversation with other people can lead to too much time to talk to yourself, which leads to overthinking, which leads to over self-criticizing, which is a quick and terrible downward spiral. Jesus says to reach out to those on the high-risk list (okay, He actually said the sick, widowed, homebound but close enough). So call your grandma! I’ve talked to my other high-risk friends, and as the unofficial spokesperson, I’ll go ahead and admit that it’s those folks who are the most forgotten by friends and the church year-round. Most folks are on a high anxiety level right now, so now’s a good time to check-in, reach out, send a meme, etc.
And it’s okay to not talk about the virus! Show off kitty photos, talk about recent movies, food, ANYTHING. I promise you everyone is getting all your toilet paper, government blaming, and death articles. It’s okay to talk about other more positive subjects.
And it’s okay (not just okay… it’s important) to not reach out to those toxic people in your life. You know the ones…the family member who ‘that’s just how they are and you have to deal with it,’ or that boy who is stringing you along. Now’s a good time to not invite their negativity, so if possible don’t reach out to them as the first source of needed contact. It’s not rude, it’s watching out for yourself.
3. Throughout/once a week or so:
–If you have things you need to do throughout the week, try to have one ‘to accomplish task’ per day if possible, that way you don’t have a day with absolutely nothing or of overwhelming yourself to get everything done. Whether it’s run an errand, phone a friend, clean a room in the house, etc. Spread it out to help keep yourself busy.
–Get in the car and leave the house: whether it’s to get a drive-thru order, go to the park, or just to drive around. Physically leave your living area.
–Get together with friends if possible. The best thing I did before having to isolate myself was joining a small group. From the beginning, we have all been very open and honest about my disability and what my high risks were. There have been times I have missed out on our weekly small group, but being open, honest, and aware has helped keep everyone (not just I!) as healthy as possible. So if you’re able to get together with your family and friends (outdoors is highly recommended if possible), do it. Be open and honest on any possible exposures and what you’re comfortable with. Seeing people can be very healing.
4. Miscellaneous advice to help not go too crazy:
–Get a TV streaming service if you don’t already have one (Hulu, Netflix, Disney Plus, etc.). Now that you won’t be eating out as much, you should have room in your budget for it.
–Now’s a good time to read that book you’ve been meaning to finish or to check out podcasts all your annoying podcast pushing friends have been suggesting (I am one of those, so let me know if you want any recommendations).
–Yoga and guided meditation apps. There’s a variety of skill levels and subjects out there, but forcing your mind to slow down is a great practice.
–Foster an animal from the local shelter or offer to walk an elderly or sick person’s pup. My rescue puppy has rescued me countless times when I had no one to be around. Plus it helps to have something to take care of/a reason to get up and move every day.
–If everyone is healthy and safe (once again, being smart, safe, and honest for the sake of protecting everyone), offer to help someone who may not be able to leave the house. Run an errand, bring them a meal, etc.
So there y’all have it. Be aware, be smart, be safe, and be kind (to yourself and others). These are tough times for all, but working together (even from afar) can be a huge help to everyone. I’m not a CDC expert, but I do know that being smart, considerate, and faithful will get us through this. Feeling panic, fear, concern, anxiety is normal and okay. Don’t let someone tell you otherwise. What is in our control is how we deal with it and treat ourselves and others. You can do it.
Hope to see y’all soon! Until then, I’m sending all my love, prayers, and encouragement from the comfort of my germ-free but chronically ill home.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Della Anne. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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