How to Safely Sustain Sheltering in Place

Wednesday, September 30, 2020, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

Almost six months into the global pandemic, practices and safety measures that once felt foreign are the norm.

Many people forced to work remotely found they loved it.

Employers appreciated the lower overhead costs and higher productivity.

Managers became less fearful about giving their employees more autonomy.

The world is definitely changing.

Sadly, however, other changes are occurring, too. We’ve become used to not having large gatherings, limiting our travel, and coping with other restrictions.

Mask designs have become an accessory, since they, too, are now the norm. And while a vaccine is on the horizon, we still don’t know if or when it’ll be widely available, as recent concerns have emerged.

So much remains unknown, but one thing is clear: We need to keep expecting the unexpected as we go about our daily lives. The way it’s looking, we’ll need to continue limiting our exposure and remaining, to some extent, sheltered in place for the foreseeable future. Here are some ways to address the ongoing challenges posed by the quarantine.

  • Transmission precautions

    We can’t stay locked down forever, but as long as the pandemic remains active, it’s important to stay as safe as possible.

    Some steps to take:

    • Limit outings to only the essentials, or where you can remain safely socially distanced.

    • Wear your face mask (and always carry a spare).

    • Frequently wash your hands for at least 20 seconds each time.

    • Use hand sanitizer when you can’t wash.

    To limit the virus’ spread, take these precautions and others as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Segregating sick and healthy household members

    For better or worse, the reopening has begun. Many states are allowing children back in schools, and students are returning to college campuses. Public transportation is up and running, employers are allowing workers to come back in some places, and other businesses, such as movie theaters and other entertainment venues, are reopening.

    Everyone has put safety protocols in place, but the risk is still there. While some states are flattening the coronavirus curve, several have seen virus spikes, and it’s unknown what the cooler months will bring.

    It’s not far-fetched to worry that you or someone in your household might catch the coronavirus or another infection. If a member of your household is infected, you’ll want to have a space ready where they can recuperate. Be sure you have the means to segregate sick people and have enough PPE stocked for any caregivers to use while taking care of others.

  • Make sure to set downtime

    While you want to make sure you’re limiting your exposure to others, you still need to have some downtime outside your four walls to preserve your sanity. The fresh air is good for you, remember?

    If you’re able, visit parks and other outdoor attractions for a change of scenery. In areas where people gather, many facilities have added porta-potties to cut down restroom traffic and help maintain social distancing. You don’t have to worry about being caught in a busy, enclosed restroom, and you can rest easy knowing the portables are routinely cleaned and sanitized.

  • Keep an eye on your finances

    We all know the pandemic has created economic havoc. Stock values are bouncing all over the place, people are being laid off, and businesses are shutting their doors. We’re not even sure what the economy will look like next month, let alone next year.

    Now’s the time to make sure you have a financial cushion. If your income is intact, then start saving. If not, consider a side hustle or three. Build an emergency fund, establish a budget, pay down your debt if you can. Consider a home warranty so any big-ticket items are covered in the event they need major repairs.

    Also, make sure you have adequate insurance. Keep your credit strong so you can access funds in an emergency and receive better lending rates. If your credit is poor, there are guides you can follow to help you take steps to improve it.

  • Take care of your mental health

    It’s natural to feel helpless during a pandemic. Between medical concerns and government-imposed restrictions, many things are out of your control. One thing you can control, though, is your immediate space: Take steps to make sure it’s as pleasant as possible and brings happiness. This will do wonders for your mental health.

    Consider taking on one of those home improvement projects you’ve been wanting to tackle:

    • Add new paint to freshen up the rooms where you spend most of your time.

    • Start a garden. (Plan to start seeds indoors for the spring if you live in a colder climate).

    • Build the gazebo or backyard shed you’ve always wanted.

    Some other feel-good strategies to follow:

    • Connect regularly with family and friends via phone or video. (Try some virtual games!)

    • Watch positive movies that make you laugh or think. (But leave the tear-jerkers for another time.)

    • Make sure to get plenty of exercise; it’s good for both body and mind.

    The key is to find something you enjoy doing. Not only are pleasant activities and projects distracting, but they also can give you a sense of accomplishment, which can be rare during these repetitious days. You don’t even have to spend a lot of money to give yourself some inner balance — as the old saying goes, some of the best things in life are free.

The year 2020 is unlike anything most of us have ever experienced. Staying safe as you guard your finances and mental health can help you weather this pandemic and all that goes with it. If all goes well, this crisis will pass sooner rather than later, and things can become a little more “normal.” In the meantime, be healthy and stay safe!

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