As many of you know, my first degree was in psychology and I have had extensive post-graduate work in counseling and clinical psychology. While I am not licensed as a psychologist, I am certainly comfortable dealing with emotional issues and know enough to know when to refer a client out for a trained therapist. That being said, in addition to my experience in what I will call “Western” psychology, I also have a deep understanding of psychology from the Chinese medical point of view. Together, these give me an excellent foundation to gain insight into many issues that clients deal with and the tools to assist them.
There is an old Chinese saying, “may you live in interesting times”. Currently, we are living in interesting times. In Georgia we have a stay-in-place order due to the Corona virus. However, compared to other states that are in a true lockdown, this is no more than a suggestion. However, the reality is that unless we do stay at home, avoid social interactions without masks, avoid handshakes, and do the social distancing thing, many more people in Georgia will become sick.
As a doctor, I feel that it is important to understand why we must do the hard thing and the consequences of our actions when we don’t.
There is a lot of misinformation out there about the SARS2-19 virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. People are under many different false assumptions that the science doesn’t support. It’s not the purpose of this paper to investigate all of them. However, there are a couple I need to explore so that you get a better understanding of why you should stay home and what could happen if you don’t.
First, this is an extremely contagious airborne virus. You don’t have to be an epidemiologist to see that this has spread all over the globe in a matter of days. In less than a week, it exploded in a small city in China and rapidly covered the world. Diseases cannot travel that way unless there is an easy means of transportation, and the easiest is through tiny droplets that hang in the air that other people can inhale. All you have to do is stop and look and you will see that this virus is extremely contagious, and it is most easily caught when you breathe in the air of someone who is infected.
Second, this disease attacks the respiratory system. Yes, many people who contract COVID may not show signs; they become carriers who can still spread the disease even though they themselves have no symptoms. However, if you are one of the unlucky few who does become symptomatic, this is a painful, uncomfortable disease. We are learning that although the elderly and people with insulin-dependent diabetes or underlying lung issues are most at risk, COVID-19 can hit anyone hard. Don’t be dismissive of the fact that although unlikely, this virus can kill you, or somebody you know.
So what we have seen now that we’re a few weeks into it, is that certain things help to get rid of this thing. The one thing that we all can do is to stay at home. When you look at cities that have implemented true lock-downs, you see that the numbers improve. San Francisco, Manhattan, New Orleans, and so many more that were hotbeds of COVID are now seeing their numbers start to level off, the so-called “flattening” of the curve.
Although in Georgia, we have not been required to stay at home, for our best interest, it is the absolute best thing that we can do to keep ourselves and others healthy. Knowing this and still making the decision to go out without taking precautions such as masking or keeping distance when possible is nothing less than selfish and puts yourself and others at risk. That is a harsh statement, I know. However, this epidemic is going to be with us for a while and unless we want it to stay even longer, we all must take responsibility for our actions.
So, what can we do to keep from going stir-crazy and wanting to pull our hair out? Well, there are several strategies we can take to keep our sanity. First and foremost, we must set limits and stick to them, even if they are socially uncomfortable. Remember, you never know if you or the person you infect will be one who gets really sick and possibly dies.
Postpone your visits to friends and family. We now have the luxury of video visiting which is a huge technological gift that didn’t exist a decade ago. I know how difficult it is not to be able to hold a new grandchild or a friend in pain. However, through the use of programs like SKYPE, we can still be an active part of each other’s lives.
We can still engage in solitary activities such as fishing or taiqi. If you live with family members who are not symptomatic, you can still go out and go for walks. Just carry a mask in case you meet other people on the way.
If you don’t know how, learn to cook. Learn to bake or learn a new technique. You can learn anything on YouTube. Try new cuisines. Order new ingredients from online and create a delicacy.
Learn a new game. Anything from cards to monopoly. Get over your preconceptions about what you think chess is and learn some of the theory behind it. Discover why it is such a thought-provoking came. Get into backgammon. Check out dominos or rediscover checkers.
Build that model. Do that jigsaw puzzle. Read that book. Video games can chew up hours.
Make movies an event with popcorn or snacks. Set a time for watching that special movie and gather the fam, dim the lights, and enjoy the show.
If you have the privacy, rediscover intimacy with your partner. Sometimes, when couples have had issues with it, restarting is often difficult. However, once one of them takes the leap and makes the first move, each quickly realizes and remembers what they have been missing.