Looking after yourself during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak
Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current COVID-19, can be scary and can affect our mental health. While it is important to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing during such times.
Here are some tips we hope will help you, your friends and your family to look after your mental health at a time when there is much discussion of potential threats to our physical health.
Try to avoid speculation and look up reputable sources on the outbreak
Rumour and speculation can fuel anxiety. Having access to good quality information about the virus can help you feel more in control. You can get up-to-date information and advice on the virus here:
Follow good hygiene practice
Such as washing your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds with soap and hot water (sing ‘happy birthday’ to yourself twice to make sure you do this for 20 seconds). You should do this whenever you get home or into work, blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food. If you can’t wash your hands straightaway, use hand sanitiser and then wash them at the next opportunity.
You should also use tissues if you sneeze and make sure you dispose of them quickly; and stay at home if you are feeling unwell.
Try to stay connected
At times of stress, we work better in company and with support. Try and keep in touch with your friends and family, but remember to limit physical contact. Phone and video calls are a good way to keep in touch.
It is a good idea to stick to your daily routine. You may also like to focus on the things you can do if you feel able to:
- stress management
- keep active
- eat a balanced diet
Stay in touch with friends on social media but try not to sensationalise things. If you are sharing content, use this from trusted sources, and remember that your friends might be worried too.
Talk to your children
Involving our family and children in our plans for good health is essential. We need be alert to and ask children what they have heard about the outbreak and support them, without causing them alarm.
We need to minimise the negative impact it has on our children and explain the facts to them. Discuss the news with them but try and avoid over-exposure to coverage of the virus. Be as truthful as possible.
Let’s not avoid the ‘scary topic’ but engage in a way that is appropriate for them.
Try to anticipate distress
It is normal to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed as we read news about the outbreak, especially if you have a long-term physical health condition that makes you more vulnerable to the effects of the COVID-19.
Try and reassure people you know who may be worried and check in with people who you know are living alone.
Try not to make assumptions
Don’t judge people and avoid jumping to conclusions about who is responsible for the spread of the disease. COVID-19 can affect anyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity or sex.
How should people deal with being in self-isolation or in quarantine?
If there’s a chance you could have COVID-19, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate).
For people that are in self-isolation or are in quarantine, this may seem like a daunting prospect. It will help to try and see it as a different period of time in your life, and not necessarily a bad one, even if you didn’t choose it.
It will mean a different rhythm of life, a chance to be in touch with others in different ways than usual. Be in touch with other people regularly on social media, e-mail or on the phone, as they are still good ways of being close to the people who matter to you.
Create a daily routine that prioritises looking after yourself. You could try reading more or watching movies, having an exercise routine, trying new relaxation techniques, or finding new knowledge on the internet. Try and rest and view this as a new if unusual experience that might have its benefits.
Make sure your wider health needs are being looked after such as having enough prescription medicines available to you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases.
The most recently discovered Coronavirus causes Coronavirus disease COVID-19.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.
How do I keep myself safe?
How to avoid catching or spreading COVID-19:
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- always wash your hands when you get home or into work
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
- try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
Who has an increased risk of contracting COVID-19?
Government websites have shared that: “Generally, COVID-19 can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.”
If you are concerned for your child’s health regarding COVID-19 you should contact their doctor, nurse or specialist team for advice.
My hospital has patients with COVID-19, is it safe for me to attend?
For all cases of COVID-19, the person being treated in hospital is in isolation so these patients do not cause a threat to others.
Check your hospital’s current guidance about attending appointments as some may suggest only attending necessary appointments and avoiding unnecessary attendance.
What to do if you think you might have COVID-19?
If you think you might have COVID-19 or you’ve been in close contact with someone who has it:
- stay at home and avoid close contact with other people
- contact your GP or medical professional
If a family member is concerned that they might have COVID-19, advise them that it is best to following the advice above, and avoid contact with others.
How long do I have to stay at home?
If you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days.
If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.
If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.
What is the impact of COVID-19 on Waipuna Hospice’s work?
Providing the best possible specialist hospice palliative care, enhancing the quality of life for those facing end of life and bereavement remains at the heart of what we do and we will be working hard to ensure that our service continues.
In the last couple of weeks with the recent implications of COVID-19, we have had to make critical decisions about whether to cancel fundraising events, continue with certain fundraising activities and to monitor the impact of these uncertain times. We have already had to postpone or cancel some events and seen some decline in giving. We believe the impact on our income will be significant but this is the right decision based on the importance of the wellbeing of our patients, supporters, volunteers and staff.
How can I help Waipuna Hospice during this time?
Continue to plan fundraising events, contact us (link to email@example.com) If you are concerned about your plans, you can still donate (link to waipunahospice.org.nz/donate) – families need charities like Waipuna Hospice to ensure they get support and information when they need it most.
Wash hands for 20 seconds. Dry hands for 20 seconds.
Steps for clean hands
- Wet your hands under clean running water. Use warm water if available.
- Put soap on your hands and wash for 20 seconds. Liquid soap is best.
- Rub hands together until the soap makes bubbles.
- Rub on both sides of both hands …
- and in between fingers and thumbs …
- and round and round both hands.
- Rinse all the soap off under clean running water. Use warm water if available.
- Dry your hands all over for 20 seconds. Using a paper towel is best (or, if at home, a clean dry towel).
Always wash and dry your hands …
- Eating or preparing food.
- Sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose (or wiping children’s noses)
- Gardening (or playing outside for children)
- Having contact with animals
- Going to the toilet or changing nappies
- Looking after sick people.
Prevention – how to protect yourself and others
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues.
- Put used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately.
- Wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds).
- Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
- Avoid personal contact, such as kissing, sharing cups or food with sick people.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs.
- Stay home if you feel unwell.
- Call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 if you have any symptoms and have been to any countries or territories of concern or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19.