Practicing vigilance and resilience in the winter of COVID-19
The following article was originally published on GeekWire
One of the takeaways from this year’s GeekWire Summit is that the health care industry is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with grit, compassion, and innovation. Day after day in October, experts used the event’s Regence Health Tech Stage to talk about the skyrocketing use of telehealth, the race for a COVID-19 vaccine, and how researchers are using data to fight the disease.
For many of us, however, what is most urgent as we face the winter months is protecting ourselves and our loved ones from not just COVID-19 but the effects of stress, uncertainty, and social isolation.
“While we should remain vigilant on COVID social precautions, it’s just as important to help ourselves and the members of our community feel loved and connected,” said Dr. Drew Oliveira, senior executive medical director for Regence BlueShield. “As we weather the pandemic, we should focus on maintaining not just a healthy body but also a healthy mind.”
Stop the spread
We may be tired of hearing about it, but COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. Washington state leaders recently enacted sweeping new social restrictions to combat a record number of COVID cases across the state, even worse than the first surge of cases last spring.
The way we change the trajectory of COVID in our community is through our behavior. Consider the most vulnerable among us, and wear a mask, wash your hands, and practice social distancing with people outside your immediate household. Make sacrifices in how you celebrate the holidays this year, so we can enter 2021 flattening the curve of the virus.
Keep the rest of your body healthy
Many people are skipping or delaying needed health care because they are afraid of contracting COVID-19. Emergency-room visits, cancer treatments, routine care for chronic conditions, and even 911 calls are being curtailed. Millions of children nationwide have missed routine vaccinations this year.
Skipping care now can have negative impacts to your health both in the short and long term. If you or your loved ones have avoided going to the doctor, please reconsider and schedule an appointment as soon as you can.
Get your flu shot
This year’s flu season is especially dangerous because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The symptoms of the flu and COVID are similar, which could lead to confusion and anxiety with diagnosing your illness. Hospitals already crowded with COVID patients could also be strained if they need to treat a rush of flu patients.
Unlike a COVID-19 vaccine, a flu vaccine is available now. Get your flu shot (which is free to members in many health plans) at most in-network doctors’ offices, pharmacies and supermarkets.
Social distancing doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be social. Stay connected to your family and friends and open up to them about your concerns and your mental health. Call friends or neighbors to see how they’re doing.
Find other activities that give you meaning and provide structure during an uncertain time. Bake a cake with your kids, build up your cycling or running speed, or pick up a new hobby altogether.
Take it one day at a time, and give yourself and others grace as we all adjust to new circumstances.
Learn more about Regence’s mental health and well-being tips from our experts on our self-care resource page.