A dear friend called me yesterday, distressed:
“What am I supposed to do? Some people are wandering around town without masks, eating at outdoor patios with less than three feet between them. Isn’t that horribly dangerous? Others are wearing masks and full-on face shields. Gosh, are face shields necessary? It seems a bit obsessive to me, but who knows? And then, there’s the whole social-distancing thing, which seems to be haphazard no matter where I go. For that matter, I hardly dare go anywhere, because I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, how, when, or where.”
She’s not alone. Many of us, especially those of us seniors who are in the more vulnerable age/health category, are in a quandary as our various communities try to get out of lockdown and back to normal.
Although what is normal seems to be very much in question. There are guidelines given to us by various public health professionals, others by our community leaders, and still others by our friends, Google, and the Internet in general.
Wear a mask, OK, but when and where, and for how long? What kind of mask is best? Or is a mask even effective in the first place?
Observe social distancing. Got it. But is sharing a meal OK? How does that work? Observe social distancing in certain circumstances but not in others? OK, but which? And how?
Take my temperature regularly, OK. Once a day, once a week, three times a day? Only before I go out? Only if I feel hot? Yikes.
The only stable directive across the board seems to be, “Wash your hands.” Whew. One down.
It’s all a matter of individual choice. Each of us has to do our own research and listen to the opinions of those who make the most sense to us. Those we trust. Of course, community rules and mandates must be followed (i.e., requiring mask wearing in public places, practicing social distancing).
Beyond that, what we do or don’t do to protect ourselves, and society at large, from the coronavirus is purely a matter of choice.
But, what is right for my friend may not be right for everyone. She may choose to stay home all the time. You may feel comfortable meeting friends at a distance.
What is right for your significant other may not feel comfortable for you. What 90% of the population does may not feel like your path. Once you’ve listened to the medical experts and done your research, make a decision. Decide what you want for yourself; what makes you feel safe and protected.
Personal choice is always important – pandemic or not. Take Pat Taylor, for example, who, at 80, found herself once again battling ovarian cancer.
Not her first go-round, as Pat has had to deal with this particular cancer several times since it first cropped up in 2004. Yet prior to the pandemic and before schools shut down, Pat refused to give up the volunteering dear to her heart: as a cafeteria worker, every weekday at a local elementary school, doing whatever was needed.
During the pandemic, individuals dealing with cancer may choose to stay at home, others to connect more with friends and loved ones at a distance, still others to paint or write or read. There is no right or wrong in any of these – or a multitude of other – choices.
What matters is the choice that fits for you, whether we’re talking about coronavirus or cancer or any other unfortunate situation.
Let’s take this one step further. Although the situation itself may seem out of control since no one can yet predict how/when the pandemic will end and under what circumstances, you no longer need to suffer from the stress of it.
You see, the stress of feeling out-of-control damages our immune system, having nothing to do with whether or not we’ve actually contracted the virus, and that’s something none of us can afford. Our immune system is our body’s number one line of defense against all ailments, Covid-19 included.
So, the one thing you can absolutely do for yourself, in the face of so many conflicting “dos” and “don’ts,” is regain some measure of control over what you can control.
You can’t control Covid-19, you certainly can’t control what other people are doing, but you can take charge of your own behavior.
You can make informed decisions about how you are going to manage your health in these trying times. And with that, you can achieve a measure of calm and peace, that will benefit your overall well-being enormously.
What are you doing to stay safe and protected doing the pandemic? Do you find yourself at odds with your family/friends regarding the type of precautions you’re taking versus what they’re doing? Does taking precautionary measures against Covid-19 decrease your stress about the virus or increase the stress? Please share your thoughts and observations with the community.