Day number two of shelter-in-place here in California where I live, one of the states hardest hit with the coronavirus. As my baby boomer husband said the other day: “Waking up to another day in Coronaville.”
“Coronavirus.” “Pandemic.” “Shelter-in-place.” “COVID-19.” “Social distancing.” “Self-quarantine.” “Stay-at-Home.” “Lock-down.” “Isolation.” To think just a mere month ago these words were not part of our everyday vocabulary. People wearing masks, empty grocery shelves, incessant hand washing, travel bans, closed schools, working from home, and a plummeting stock-market.
This is our new normal.
On Thursday, the governor of California 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 at home with the exception of going to the store, checking on relatives, going to the doctor, or exercising outdoors (as long as you stay six feet away from everyone). Schools and all non-essential businesses have been closed. If that news wasn’t dire enough, the governor also warned that 56% of California’s population is at risk of getting the coronavirus. Now, there’s a sobering thought.
Us baby boomers – specifically those ages 60 and older – well, it turns out we’re the susceptible ones likely to become seriously ill from this virus. Although we felt young, tough, and invincible when we first heard about this pandemic, it seems like boomers are finally taking note. And that’s a good thing.
Not to be an alarmist, but may I make a suggestion? If you’re a baby boomer over the age of 65 and not in self-quarantine or isolation, you should seriously consider it, even if it’s not currently required where you live. That is most certainly the case if you have underlying health issues. I know, I know. Self-quarantining wasn’t exactly on your bucket list and we boomers are accustomed to active and social lives. But look at what happened in China and what is taking place in Italy and Spain right now at a breathtaking speed.
Transmission of COVID-19 is highly contagious and shockingly easy to transmit. Now, medical experts are telling us that the virus can survive on surfaces for up to three days. Younger ones may not even be symptomatic, so family members or friends can transmit the disease 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 your symptoms start) for the novel coronavirus is between 2 to 14 days after exposure.
The saying, “better safe than sorry” has never been more true. Okay, lecture over, but please take care, my friends.
So, what can you do if you’re like me, stuck at home, to get your mind off all this mayhem?
Before I list 10 things you can do if self-quarantined, remember to stay safe, but remain calm and positive. While we need to take this virus seriously, don’t stay glued to the TV watching doom and gloom news reports. Instead, focus on the many reasons we all have to be grateful. At the end of the day, acknowledge that you were given another chance to see the sunrise, recognize something you’ve accomplished, or make note of a person you are thankful to have in your life.
Okay, so here are ten ways to stay sane:
* Eat well and stay active. This isn’t the time to stress eat and indulge in comfort food. You’ll only feel worse in the end, believe me. Exercise – outdoors if possible. I still take walks, cycle, and hike trails – keeping a safe six feet from everyone else, of course. Literally, I can feel the stress melt away. Nature calms. However, if that’s not possible, there’s a ton of free workout videos on YouTube geared toward the 50-plus crowd. Check them out.
* Strengthen your connections. Keep in touch with your family and friends. I belong to a small sign language congregation and we started using Zoom for our meetings. Maybe I’m behind the times technically since I had 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’s so important not to isolate yourself. You can also stay in touch with your loved ones through texts, email, social media, Skype, or Face Time. Hate technology? Write an old-fashioned letter or create cards for your loved ones to cheer up their day.
* I feel so fortunate to be a writer, which has served as therapy throughout my life. Tap into your muse. Keep a journal, write a poem, or start a blog. Begin the great American novel that’s been dancing around in your head. Start that memoir or family history. You’ll be amazed at how fast time flies by. In fact, if you’ve always dreamed of becoming a writer and want to take up the craft in your golden years, stay tuned. In my new book, which will be released next year, I’ll provide inspiration and motivation while sharing my knowledge and experience to help you begin your writing journey. What if you hate writing? Try some other creative outlet. Paint, create jewelry, sing, or dance.
* You know how us baby boomers are always being told to exercise our brains? Now is the perfect time to do so. Why not take an online class? Do a puzzle. Learn a new skill. Want to learn a new language? My son, Chris Gorges, an interpreter for the deaf, offers free educational content for those wishing to learn sign language on his YouTube channel at ASL Basics.
* Take time to savor the small moments. Even during lock-down, you can step outside to enjoy the sound of a bird singing, the smells after a rainstorm, or the beauty of a sunset. Savor simple things like the first spring day in your garden or that first sip of coffee.
* Read those books that have been gathering dust on your bookshelf or check out the top bestsellers on Amazon. Looking for suggestions? I thought “Olive, Again” by Elizabeth Strout was brilliant. “Ask Again, Yes” by Mary Beth Keane and the quirky “Convenience Store Woman” by Sayaka Murata were also worthwhile. And if you want creepy, try “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides, “The Family Upstairs” by Lisa Jewell, or “My Lovely Life” by Samantha Downing.
* Resist the temptation to lay in bed or lounge around in your PJ’s all day. Get up, shower, brush your teeth, and put some nice clothes on. Put structure into your day with some goals to achieve. You’ll feel better and it will help you keep a positive outlook.
* Now is the perfect time for some spring cleaning. Clear out that junk drawer, get rid of clothes you never wear, and declutter. Do your taxes so you’ll have one less thing to stress about. The chores will distract you and help you feel productive.
* Do you have an old guitar or saxophone in the closet? Dust off that old instrument, take lessons, or start practicing.
* Indulge yourself. Take a long bubble bath. Listen to music from the 60s and dance around the house. Add your favorite songs to your playlist. Give yourself a facial. Sleep in or take a nap. Look through an old photo album. Sit outside in the sun. Feeling stressed? Be sure and read something spiritual and inspirational each day. Pray. Practice deep breathing. Do some Pilates. Try using an app like Calm or Headspace. Need some distraction? Watch an old black and white favorite movie from your childhood or a film that makes you laugh out loud. Get a free trial of a streaming service and binge-watch as much as you can before it expires.
There you go. Ten things that will help you cope during these unprecedented and distressing times. You are not alone. We baby boomers are going to get through this together!