After several months in quarantine, we started getting used to the new normal. We said goodbye to in-person events, spring break vacations, and school classes. Nonessential businesses shut their doors (some even reopened then reclosed). Even basic leisure activities are very limited in most states — and wow, do we miss going to shows!
We’re slowly learning to navigate this lifestyle, but it doesn’t mean it’s gotten easier. Families are living and working alongside one another 24/7 — and, depending on your circumstances, this may continue for several more months, especially if you live in one of the designated “hot spots.”
Have you got cabin fever? Lost track of your days? Feeling depressed? If you’re struggling to get through the next week or even the next day, here are five tips to help you sustain your health, safety, and security through the rest of the quarantine.
1. Follow transmission precautions
Wearing masks and walking 6 feet out of the way when encountering someone on the street may have started feeling less bizarre once you became accustomed to these actions, but it likely started feeling weird again when things started to open up and you started encountering more people.
As we saw when lawmakers and health officials reopened states, cities, and towns, the re-entry didn’t put an end to wearing masks, social distancing, disinfecting groceries, and limiting capacity for places of business. We just learned to incorporate many new behaviors into our old ways of doing things.
If you own a small business, if and when it’s allowed to operate again — especially if your business model depends upon interaction with the public — you’ll need to take precautions to protect yourself, your employees, and your customers while avoiding any potential liability issues.
Be sure you follow all protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit viral transmission. Also, ensure that you’ve set up markers and control measures to keep people a safe distance from one another in your facilities. If your state requires masks or other precautions, post clear signage and make sure all employees and customers adhere to the guidelines.
2. Collect your paperwork
The best time to get your important documents in order is before a crisis — but it’s definitely a better-late-than-never situation. In times of high stakes and high uncertainty, like now, you need to be able to access all your important information at the drop of a hat. So if you haven’t already, go through your personal files and collect these documents:
- Birth certificates, driver’s licenses, passports, Social Security cards, and other ID documents for everyone in your household, as well as your pets’ microchip numbers
- Marriage, divorce, foster, adoption, and other documents that prove family relationships
- Recent photos of all family members and pets
- Bank account and tax records,
- Deeds to property, titles to vehicles, and other ownership records
- Insurance policies and up-to-date cards for each policy
- Records of bill, rent, and other payment schedules
- Wills, health care directives, and other official documents you might need in emergencies
Keep a set of hard copies in your disaster preparedness kit, and also scan and keep a digital set online in a cloud storage account, so you can access your important info from anywhere, anytime. Once you’re done with your personal documents, go through the same process for your business paperwork, as well.
3. Learn new skills
Many businesses had to close up shop or at least limit their transactions during this period of isolation. If your business is still (or back) on pause, why not use this extra time to gain some new skills? Take a course to gain a professional certification or learn a new life skill such as performing CPR or even driving a manual transmission car. Take a photography course. Learn to build digital graphics.
Anything that could help you personally or professionally can also help ease frustrations and keep your mental state engaged and in top form. Too much idleness waiting for things to open up could lead to emotional distress, especially if your finances are taking a hit. Distract yourself constructively instead.
4. Monitor your finances
Speaking of finances, now is not the time to ignore what’s going on with your bank accounts, expenses, or debts. As global markets waver and unemployment soars, it’s important for you to know exactly where your money stands. Consider these steps:
- If you’re on pause with your normal work, try starting a side hustle to earn some extra cash. Freelancers know how to stay afloat, and there are plenty of skills you could put to use working online. If you need a tune-up, take some free classes.
- Avoid hoarding too many supplies, and only buy what you need for roughly two weeks out. If you stock up on too many items, you’ll end up spending money you probably don’t need to.
- If your income and savings have taken (or might take) a hit, the last thing you need is an expensive home repair. A way to protect yourself — and make sure you don’t miss work unnecessarily, especially if you work from home — is to get a home warranty, which covers repair costs for appliances and systems like HVAC, electricity, and plumbing.
- Check your credit history. If it’s a little on the low side, take steps to improve your credit. If the pandemic stretches on for longer than we’d hope, or subsequent waves occur, you might need access to credit.
Taking concrete steps to understand and address your financial situation can help you feel a little more in control during an out-of-control situation. If you really want to get proactive, you also can use this time to set up a strategic plan for the post-pandemic period (whenever that may be). Brainstorm marketing plans and other ways you can grow your company once you can reopen your doors.
5. Cultivate safety and sanity at home
For a while, the curve seemed to be flattening in many regions, but as the U.S. economy has reopened for business, we’ve seen infection rates begin to rise again in many areas. If you or anyone in your household becomes sick or shows signs of illness, be sure to take every precaution.
Immediately consult the CDC’s recommendations for guidance. When you’re taking care of someone sick, wear a mask, use gloves when handling linens or laundry, and change clothes frequently. Remember to disinfect all surfaces, including doorknobs, light switches, and other frequently touched areas.
The pandemic has led to a lot of distress and uncertainty. Right now, there are a great many things in life you can’t control, so focus on the things you can. Be sure to get enough rest, eat healthily, and exercise. Communicate with friends and neighbors. Take on a long-desired do-it-yourself project for some healthy distraction. And, of course, find all the new music you can.
Anything that can fill the hours and keep your spirits up will go a long way toward helping you survive the next phase of this health crisis. Hopefully, in a few more months, we’ll all be able to move forward and get back to normal — or at least a new normal — and look forward to things settling down.