Balancing being informed with mental health needs
March 12, 2020 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Trying not to obsess over COVID-19 but it's in the news all around me, and many around me seem to be blase which makes me even more concerned. I am hearing things like "the US is fighting over toilet paper, but Italy is fighting over food" and "the US is on the same trajectory as Italy but ten weeks behind." My work is not implementing telework, and doesn't seem interested in doing it as a preventative measure. Schools are not closing yet. But it's only a matter of time. How do I balance the need to be informed with the need to not feed my obsessive compulsiveness and anxiety? How do I prepare beyond the 14 day supply that we have? I am really stressed out.
posted by crunchy potato to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Look to your local public health department. They will have the most up to date information about your area. Now is the time to think and act local. I live in an area with a current outbreak and the main goal of our public health department is to slow the progress of the disease so that we can avoid what Italy is facing. The distressing events in the news (cities banning gatherings and delaying events, etc) are towards this aim. It is not hopeless.

The best thing you can do right now, if your public health department isn't recommending anything more, is to wash your hands often.
posted by muddgirl at 12:08 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


The second-best thing you can do is to stay home.
posted by NotLost at 12:09 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


limit yourself to X minutes of news and corona research a day
posted by shaademaan at 12:12 PM on March 12 [4 favorites]


I should clarify that I do understand intellectually how to address preparation. Wash hands, sanitize, social distancing etc. I mean to be asking, how to prepare if the comment about being ten weeks behind Italy is accurate, what do I do to support my family (some in high risk categories)?
posted by crunchy potato at 12:21 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


the thing is that basically none of the information is accurate-accurate and is all some level of (possibly informed) conjecture. The idea that were following a curve and will look like italy might make sense, but it also might not happen, there are certainly plenty of differences between the US and italy one could look to that complicate the assumption that we will follow their exact path.

Even information on spread and where its being found is questionable at best - I got a "confirmed case" notification from my employer (who got it from their corporate landlord) and it turned out not to be true.

Staying home to the extent possible and religious hand washing are good ideas regardless of whatever the of-the-minute news item might be, and you should continue doing them because of it.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:26 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


I find that preparation is the best path to being less anxious.

If you can afford it, get 1-2 months of canned food, not just 14 days. Get all your medications for 3 months.

Also I am sorry to inform you that projections say large US cities are 11 days behind Italy, not 10 weeks. I know this will increase anxiety, but it is better to have accurate information.
posted by cheesecake at 12:26 PM on March 12 [9 favorites]


Here is a resource compiled of things to think about when you are prepping, one of the first essays in it got linked to the Blue early February I think so you may have seen some of it before

Find your state health department site and bookmark it, they're the ones actually doing the work in your state.

Pick one news source for broad overstrokes: here's the NYTimes or here's the Seattle Times or WaPo-- I know the Seattle times isn't doing its paywall for coronavirus coverage and I think the NYTimes isn't either, don't know about WaPo. You can visit it once a day in the morning.

Don't follow social media to get information, it will mostly be an endless hole of some information and a lot of speculation and back and forth. (I'm guilty of this myself.) If there are people you want to follow on Facebook to make sure they are okay, bookmark their specific facebook pages and go there directly once a day, don't use your news feed. If you have high risk people in your life and you think they might not be taking this seriously, contact them and talk to them DIRECTLY with the basics of what you know and encourage them to stay home as much as possible and ask what assistance they might need to accomplish this. Yesterday I realized my grandma was a smoker in her youth and my aunt is a school nurse posting about how "just wash your hands, the flu is more likely to get you" on Facebook and you bet I called her up and tried to calmly warn her about the dangers for her particular situation. Encouraged her to not go to church and all that jazz.
posted by foxfirefey at 12:59 PM on March 12 [8 favorites]


How's your house? You're about to spend a lot of time in it, so you could use some of that nervous energy to make it nice. Some ideas:

- Declutter. Particularly focus on getting rid of things that you don't want, as it may get harder to leave the house to donate or sell things. You can do the organising part later on when you're stuck at home but feel fine.

- Set up a work station, if you're likely to work from home.

- If you've got something crafty you'd like to do, check you've got supplies.

- Buy houseplants, or herbs, or sprouts, or hydroponic plants. Maybe a fish.

- If your house gets stuffy, buy an airfilter.
posted by kjs4 at 3:53 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


I'm channelling a lot of my anxiety into thinking about what I can do in my community (and then doing those things), but also taking this Coursera course in Epidemics from the University of Hong Kong. If I'm going to obsess, I'd like to come out of it with an introductory knowledge of epidemiology!
posted by Acheman at 3:58 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


If someone says, for example, "the latest projections" but does not link to a source or lay out their work, disregard the information. If you cannot do that, ask where and how they got the info, and cross-check. For this use governmental or academic sources, or at least something showing the data work and methods of projection.
posted by geek anachronism at 9:46 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


I just heard from Italy the last couple of days: no-one is fighting over food. Where did you get that from? As one Italian put it: this is a health crisis, not a supply crisis. It will also be an economic crisis. But there is enough food, toilet paper and medicine for all. Given the really bad response from the US government, some things may go worse in the US than in Asian countries and Italy, but generally you should not hoard food or medicine, because it stresses the system.
Stay home as much as possible. Keep your hands and your home as clean as possible. If you get any of the symptoms call your doctor or if you have it, your local corona virus hotline, and follow their advice. This is how you will best support your community, including your family.
You will get to "Italy" eventually, given the state of the US response at this point. That is a given. You prepare best for that by staying at home as much as possible, so you can help delay the inevitable.
About economics: I've scheduled a phone meeting with my bank with the plan of re-mortgaging my house. We are three in the household, and the other two are restaurant workers, so we are vulnerable because my pay can't cover all our costs. Can you think about what your family vulnerabilities are and plan for them?

Remember the mantra: this is most likely not about you, but about the community. Most people get only mild symptoms from the virus, but the 10% who need hospital care will be a huge strain on the healthcare system because they will be there all at once. If that strain becomes too hard, someone will die.
What we need to do is to delay the spread of the virus, the best we can. Be a hero: contribute to that delay by avoiding contact as much as you can.
posted by mumimor at 1:26 AM on March 13 [5 favorites]


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