Home > Living in the Era of COVID-19: Coping Strategies

Living in the Era of COVID-19: Coping Strategies

March 27th, 2020 at 02:42 pm

Living alone, I feel I have both an advantage and a disadvantage when it comes to COVID-19. The advantage is that there is no one in close quarters on a regular basis who could possibly infect me, and I can control my home environment much better since it's just me; the disadvantage is that I am going without the social interaction and just plain comfort of having others around me.

I am actually pretty okay with hunkering down; my biggest dread is doing the weekly grocery shopping. I could go longer between trips, but I'm also shopping for my 86-year-old father, and I'm not sure he would like me to skip a week.

Yesterday was the day; I decided to try BJs because they are generally very uncrowded on weekdays without the COVID. I went during the early morning hour reserved for those of a certain age. It was uncrowded. I used the self-checkout station, but an employee suddenly ran up to me (3 feet away) and yelled that I could not use "unapproved" sanitizers on their equipment. (I've been bringing my little bottle of bleach/water and a sponge to spray any surfaces I have to touch.) And they still had a guy at the door checking receipts, making you wait in line with others. I don't think I'll be returning there again til this crisis is over.

I was very disappointed not to qualify for a new study an area hospital is recruiting for to see how a vegan diet, with or without eggs, affects diet quality and heart health. The study sounded great: eat a vegan diet (I already do), plus certain people would be assigned to eat 2 eggs daily for 4 weeks. There'd be about 4 blood draws and other check-ins. The pay was $600 PLUS another $500 in gift cards to pay for the vegan food! Unfortunately, I don't qualify because my BMI is in the "healthy" category and I'm not considered at risk for diabetes.

My routine when venturing out for groceries is elaborate, but as some healthcare pros have said, if you feel like what you're doing is overkill, then you're probably doing the right thing. I also read a good article in the New York Times about how to grocery shop safely.

So I wear my disposable gloves (I have masks, but haven't yet used them) and bring my sponge and spray bottle of bleach/water. I find a cart and wipe down mainly the handle bar, but also the wire on the cage wherever I think I'll be touching it, so that would include the front, since I would be leaning over it to empty it at checkout.

I've been trying to pull items stacked behind the front ones, to reduce the chance some customer has touched them.

I also spray and wipe down the surfaces at checkout, including the display screen you touch at various times, and the credit card terminal. Only BJs hassled me.

When I get to my car, I spray my own gloved hands with the bleach solution again, and the door handle. When I get home, I spray and wipe down all food products, either in the packaging they came in (like my dad's chicken), or I remove the food from its outer packaging and put it away without it. I also, for instance, sprayed/cleaned individual bananas for dad.

My technique is imperfect, to be sure; spraying the typical shopping cart is definitely difficult, but what I do is spray my sponge and then wipe the cart. I prefer the little carts simply because there's less to wipe down, but I'm shopping for 2 households so that sometimes won't fit in a smaller cart.

When I finish unpacking and cleaning the food, I set aside the reusable shopping bags in a part of the house where I won't walk into them, and I add a sticky note with the day I used them. Just because I know that the virus isn't supposed to survive past a certain time. I've heard varying numbers up to 9 days, so I allow for 10 days.

I do the same thing with mail collected from my mailbox. My postal carrier could have the virus and not know it, so I remove the mail using a gloved hand, and put both the mail and the glove aside, again with a dated sticky note. I get most bills online, so I'm not too concerned with not paying some bill in time.

I've ordered some food and other things from both Amazon and WalMart and done the same thing when those boxes arrived. Suffice it to say I have little piles of mail, boxes, gloves and coats scattered all around my living room (which I don't really use much).

So yeah, it sounds extreme, but I live near the nation's epicenter for the virus, New York City. In my state of Connecticut, I also live in the county that has the highest number of cases (and is closest to NYC, with lots of people who commute there for work).

Other than the challenges of food shopping, I've developed little routines that help me organize my time. I still have a job (at home), but this week I worked only 7.5 hours. Hardly enough to get by on, but I have savings and the government check to look forward to.

I walk nearly every day, sometimes just around the block, sometimes elsewhere. It's great to get outside and not feel cooped up. Once the weather gets a little warmer, I'll have plenty to do with gardening. I'm already considering whether I should try mowing my lawn for the entire season instead of paying my guy to do it. I certainly will have the time for it; it's also great resistance exercise and good for bone health, something I'm definitely thinking more about since being told I have osteopenia. It would also save me a pile of money since he charges $45 per mowing.

It's not easy to do. It's about an acre, and the worst part is a fairly steep slope near my front door. The hardest part is doing this in July/August, or during times of high humidity.

I do plan to grow more veggies this year at home, which could definitely become important if the virus persists.

I'm continuing to cook from scratch for nearly all my meals. I'm doing strength training exercises with hand and ankle weights, my yoga mat and a stretch band 3x a week.

I see my dad every week. This week was the second time I did not go near him. He was sitting outside in the sun when I arrived with the groceries. I thought he should put the groceries away himself, but he asked me to do it. I had bleach-wiped them, so they should be okay.

So we talked for about 20 minutes, but from a 6-foot distance. I worry about keeping his spirits up because he is already housebound and didn't go anywhere unless me or my sister or brother were taking him. Now all those visits will be curtailed.

He's talking about growing vegetable seedlings, so I've ordered soil, seeds and peat pots. It would be something to keep him busy.

What coping strategies have you come up with?

4 Responses to “Living in the Era of COVID-19: Coping Strategies”

  1. Lucky Robin Says:

    Working in the garden is my main one. It helps with cabin fever. When it is raining we are cleaning out the attic. DH found two omnibus trilogies in a box up there that I though were in storage, so now I have an additional 6 books to read. They are much loved and I used to reread them all the time when I got sick. They are my comfort novels. It's been years since I've read them. We have gone on one drive just to look at different scenery, but we didn't get out of the car.

  2. Turtle Lover Says:

    thank you for posting this. We had done some grocery shopping yesterday and had a conversation about what is the proper way to unpack groceries. It's just the S.O. and I .. we are fairly healthy and not seniors.. but still we do our best but your little piles of mail/gloves/bags made me laugh (in a good way!) I have been out of a job since Feb 28th because my company closed (nothing to do with the virus) I spent my first week of my "free time" inside finishing an online class that I had started .... then the next thing you know we are on shelter in place and I really can't leave! I am usually a home body but even I am having a hard time ... my S.O. is still working in an office with significantly less people so that leaves me by myself M-F ... I've cleaned the house and tackled some projects that I had been putting off. I have watched too much tv. (Not as much as I would have imagined myself doing but more than I probably should because even TV gets boring after a while) I spent a lot of time looking for a job .... found one.... got job offer to start April 14th or the Monday after the shelter in place is lifted ... so I've been try to learn about ZOOM and I might try doing another online class offered free from the library website. I try to go for walks when it's not raining ... and do a little more inside exercise walk videos from you tube. Oh.... and I have CATS to keep me company. :-)

  3. Dido Says:

    I stopped going out to the grocery store on March 19th, four days after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in my county (we now have 151 as of the last bulletin 3 hours ago on March 29). I had stocked up well before that but am only now running low on perishables. Friends own a farm whose primary customers are NYC "Farm to Table" restaurants (we too are near NYC); their market has completely dried up so they are now selling online and so far they have been near to selling out, which makese me happy that they have the income at this hard time. It's just greens but that will help liven up my diet a bit. I still have a couple of apples, a grapefruit, a cabbage, and bags of carrots, onions, and potatoes (as well as a couple of large bags of frozen blueberries) so that will get me through this week (in addition to what is in the pantry), but the next time I need to get something fresh, I will either order delivery from one of the local groceries or else I have been contemplating trying HungryRoot. I'm trying my best to avoid people F2F. I go for a walk most days and sometimes I'll chat with a neighbor at a distance. My gym has done a great job of livestreaming exercise classes via Zoom and a private Facebook group, but so far I have done a lousy job of actually doing the classes. I've tried a few and, unlike at the gym where there is the social stigma of leaving halfway through the class, well, that's what I generally do. I have check-in calls with most of my colleagues during the week as well as being on Zoom meetings with them along with clients, plus we have a Friday Zoom "lunch" as well just to catch up on small talk, both personal and about what's going on with clients. I also have "FaceTime Tea Time" every night at 8:30 pm with my best friend, talk to my sister more often on the phone, attend services and workshops online via Zoom with my congregation, and I've done a few "just checking in" phone calls to various friends.

  4. Dido Says:

    And, of course, the kitties!!

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