by Arturo Espinoza
After March of 2020, our nation shut down due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. And along with that event, a new phrase was born: social distancing. It seemed like all at once, we became a country of home-bound communities that had to wear gloves and masks everywhere we went. Families in panic mode and other groups of opportunistic individuals were buying cases of water, toilet paper and other cleaning-sanitation products which were then being sold for outrageous prices on the Internet. Fights over shopping carts were happening. All of a sudden, families, friends and acquaintances had to forego normal behaviors such as sharing space within large gatherings, shaking hands, hugging and kissing. In short, fear of this viral threat seemed to be a part of what some people were calling “the new normal.”
Now, three months and 23 days later, various businesses have thankfully opened while following CDC guidelines. As I am both an optimist and a realist, and a totally blind person, I found myself wondering how others within the blind community have been coping with the effects of the shutdown over the last several months. Having been a facilitator for a blindness support group since 2015, it is my hope that some or all of the tips discussed below will be helpful in allaying unnecessary fear and anxiety.
- Talk to your primary doctor or someone in the medical field. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. After all, a closed mouth doesn’t get fed.
- Pray; spiritual health is just as important as physical health.
- If available, look for reliable material on this subject.
- Instead of isolating yourself in your homes, take a daily walk around your premises. If that is not possible, go outside and take in some sun and fresh air.
- If you don’t have one, develop a social network of people that you can contact by phone, FaceTime, Skype or Zoom chat. These networks can include friends, family or church members.
- Download or order and read an audio book that you know you will enjoy.
- Listen to music or a favorite movie.
- For maintaining good neurological and emotional health, keep a consistent sleeping schedule of at least six to seven hours.
- If there are children in the home, play with them; it’s good mental and physical exercise.
- Always take what the media has to say with a cautionary grain of salt.
In the end, we know that COVID-19 is a real virus and that it has caused its share of fatalities. So, what you can do to minimize any anxiety or trepidation is to educate yourself. Understand the nature of your fear and ask yourself if what you are afraid of is based on fact or hearsay. Perhaps part of understanding our fears is reflected in the following quote: “In order for one to learn the important lessons of life, one must first overcome a fear each day.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)