As the new coronavirus continues to spread rapidly across the U.S., a growing number of people are staying home, both to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to keep from getting it.
“It’s extremely important for the public good because a person who develops COVID-19 can infect not one but possibly many other people, depending on your social interactions,” explains Dr. David Goldberg, an internist and infectious disease specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group Westchester and an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “Preventing the spread is critical.”
New York, California, and an increasing number of states now have stay-at-home orders. But being confined to your home isn’t easy and can be especially hard if you’re caring for children or the elderly or live in a cramped apartment. And while it’s OK to do outdoor activities like walking in the park if you stay 6 feet away from people, Dr. Goldberg says, if you have COVID-19 symptoms or have had close contact with someone with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends not only staying inside but also staying in a separate room away from your housemates as much as possible.
“It’s difficult because a lot of people get cabin fever,” Dr. Goldberg says. “It’s unnatural not to be able to go outdoors and psychologically stressful.”
But Dr. Goldberg says it is possible to maintain your emotional and physical wellness while protecting your household and community from illness.
“Communicate with people by phone or video chats so you don’t feel isolated, try to get some exercise while you’re indoors if you’re not sick, and keep busy and do some work and not just watch movies and stay on screens all day long,” he says.
Tinamarie Brown-Joseph, LCSW, health and well-being coordinator with NYPBeHealthy, NewYork-Presbyterian’s health and well-being program, points out that it’s important to stay active to reduce anxiety and stay fit.
“Especially for those who exercise regularly, the reduction in physical activity can affect you physically and mentally,” Brown-Joseph says. “You have to make a point to stay connected and stay healthy.”
NYPBeHealthy offers these tips for staying emotionally and physically healthy while staying at home:
Keep in touch. Call or video chat with family and friends.
Exercise at home daily. Develop an at-home workout plan. Check out free online fitness videos and apps.
Practice yoga and meditation. Yoga and meditation are good ways to help alleviate stress and anxiety. NewYork-Presbyterian’s videos can guide you.
Play your favorite music. Dance along if you enjoy that.
Finds ways to laugh. If you complete a stressful task, watch a comedy or something that makes you smile.
Limit your news time. Stay informed with credible sources but minimize your time checking the news.
Keep your mind active. Catch up on reading, podcasts, puzzles, or hobbies you like. If you play an instrument or are artistic, now is a time to enjoy it.
Set goals. Feel a sense of accomplishment by taking on a project that will improve your life, like organizing a closet or tackling paperwork.
Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings, and what you are grateful for.