As someone who has a brain that just loves to jump to ‘worst-case scenario’, I can understand the need to panic when things go wrong or when something unexpected happens. I’m the person who thinks that someone’s been in a car wreck just because they’re a little late, no matter how unlikely a wreck may be.
Believe me, I get it. Anxiety and illogical thinking is just part of how we humans work — we worry because we care, even if it’s not always the best solution. The sooner we accept this about ourselves, the sooner we can engage the debate-team champ, ever-logical Mr. Spock arguing part of our brains. “Do I really need to stock up on toilet paper? Do I need to wear a face mask everywhere, just in case? Do I need to buy hand sanitizer online that’s three times the price of what it usually is?”
The answer to all these questions, naturally, is no. Iowa Department of Public Health and the CDC have both said that wearing face masks if you’re not sick isn’t necessary, and taking masks and hand sanitizer away from people who truly need them — the compromised people or our elder residents who can’t fight off diseases — is just not OK. And for the record, if you run out of toilet paper and really need some, I feel like paper towels or tissues would work well enough in a pinch.
Here’s the thing: We all know the Cover and Contain rule by now, and we’ve been hearing for weeks now how important it is to wash our hands frequently. It’s important to be responsible for our own hygiene as well as our actions when it comes to our coughs and sneezes, but we also need everyone to practice these things in order for there to be results.
But what happens when people are unable to wash their hands because someone else bought up all the soap, or the doctors and others who actually need face masks are unable to get them because someone’s stolen them? (Yes, this is something that has actually happened — well, according to the internet, at least.) With a society as social and interactive as ours, we have to remember that we’re only as healthy as our sickest person.
It’s natural to want to protect ourselves and the people we care about by any means necessary. For some, we can’t afford to be sick and miss several days of work. For others, it’s a matter of protecting family. I have a grandmother, a dad with only one kidney and a mom who works at a pharmacy that I can’t help but worry about at least a little, and I wouldn’t want any of them getting COVID-19.
It’s good that we care enough to take some extra precautions, whether it’s to protect ourselves, the people we know personally or our community as a whole. However, going to extremes like hoarding supplies isn’t going to help, no matter how much the ‘worst-case scenario’ part of your mind may argue that it totally is going to help, don’t worry about everyone else, just focus on you.
With a literal national and international situation like this, we have to make sure to think beyond ourselves and our bubble of friends and family. However, that’s not to say a bit of self-care isn’t necessary sometimes either.
You should stay informed, definitely, but no one should obsess over any type of bad news. Movie theaters in Iowa are still open, so as long as you’re not sick, go catch a flick. Take a nice walk around Discovery Park, catch up on some streaming shows or even start some new shows. Do whatever you can to take your mind off COVID and any potential panic you may feel.
Like many others, I don’t know how long Corona-mania will last or how intense it’ll get before it finally starts to slow down here in the U.S. There are already numerous recoveries though, so that’s a good sign. Honestly, I feel like the key to getting through this is balance.
Be prepared, but don’t buy like it’s the end of the world. Wash your hands, but don’t worry about the face mask just yet. Live your life and don’t let worry keep you stuck inside, but make sure to take symptoms seriously and avoid spreading them to others. Just a good balance of concern and logic, a good amount of fact-checked information courtesy of our public health facilities and a bit of self-awareness now and then should be all we need.
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