Show Yourself Some Love with 9 Self-Care Tips During the Coronavirus Crisis

March 31, 2020

We’re all dealing with new stresses, challenges, and realities as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. With everything that’s going on in the world right now it can feel trivial or wrong to make time to do something nice for yourself. Many of us feel guilty if we’re not focusing on our families. But the truth is, to be a good parent, caregiver, partner, or whatever your role may be, you have to take care of yourself first.

That’s the idea behind self-care: recharging our batteries so we can be there for ourselves and others. Self-care has real health benefits, and you can do it for next to nothing or free. The important part is carving time out in your day to focus on you. Here are a few ideas, big and small, you can put to use right away.

 

Try Guided Meditation

Section 1For some people, meditation is the opposite of relaxing – trying to quiet your mind can be a lot of work for many. Guided meditation is a more structured option where you listen to a narrator and follow their cues: they may ask you to imagine yourself in a beautiful landscape, take you on a journey of memory, or have you picture serenity flowing into your body. You can find thousands of options for free online, including a free trial on Headspace.

 

Take a Bubble Bath

Section 2

Take a Bubble Bath When was the last time you took a bubble bath?

According to RealSimple, you can make a wonderful bubble bath out of common materials you probably already have at home, including honey, eggs, and liquid soap. Not into bubbles? Try a warm bath with Epsom Salt or a few drops of essential oil. Allow the water to soothe your muscles and your mind. Make the experience your own: light a candle, add some flowers, read a book or magazine...or just relax and do nothing at all.

 

Start a Gratitude Journal

Section 3

Every day find a few quiet moments to think about, then write down, things that you’re thankful for. Nothing is too small: you can start with one or two statements like, “I’m grateful my kids are healthy,” “I’m thankful that my husband took out the trash for me,” or “I’m grateful that I get to watch my favorite TV show tonight.” Do it on a regular basis. After a while, you will surely notice how it changes the way you feel.

 

Don’t Put off Your Health Needs

Section 4Women usually put the needs of their families first and don’t make time to care for themselves. Men, on the other hand, often don’t make their health a priority. Now, more than ever, you need to be proactive about staying healthy. Make sure you are eating right, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep. If you are due for any regular screenings or require periodic check-ups to manage a chronic condition, talk to your doctor about any precautions you should take before visiting a medical site. You may be asked to go to a location you are not used to or see a different doctor, but it’s important to keep up with your preventative care.

 

Dance in Your Living Room

Section 5Get in your self-care and your cardio all at the same time. This one is so effective because when you dance or do anything that gets your heart rate up, your brain starts releasing endorphins, those chemicals that can make you feel happier. Don’t be shy: put on a few of your favorite tunes and start moving.

 

Show Your Feet a Little Love

Section 6

Show Your Feet a Little Love A do-it-yourself pedicure is a relaxing way to reward your feet for all they do for you. Even if you don’t apply polish, a warm-water soak will feel heavenly. According to the principles of acupuncture and massage, the feet are home to pressure points or areas that correspond to other areas or systems of your body, which is why self-massage feels so good. Try using a golf or racquet ball to roll out the soles of your feet – you won’t believe how incredible it feels!

 

Drink a Cup of Tea

Section 7For centuries, people all over the world have used tea to help them feel peaceful, calm, and even fall asleep. If you can, create a beautiful ritual around a daily cup of tea – maybe it’s at the beginning of the day before anyone’s awake, or in the evening after everyone’s gone to bed. Read the label, since some teas contain caffeine, which can make you feel wired or nervous.

 

Make Your Favorite Smoothie

Section 8

A special smoothie is a great way to get essential nutrients, but it also feels like you’re treating yourself. Bananas and strawberries make a thick, fiber-filled base. Then add other fruits and leafy, green vegetables like spinach or kale. For some healthy fat, you can also add nuts or a little nut butter. Freeze your fruit and skip the ice for a more flavorful experience. Top it off with a sprinkle of healthful cinnamon or nutmeg for a drink that’s so delicious, you won’t need to sweeten it with extra sugar.
 

Ask for the Help You Need

The best way to take care of yourself is to get the support you need from others. For many independent people, this can feel scary or weird. If you’ve always been the strong, reliable one, your family may not think you need help!

Start by using “I” statements. For example, “I’d love it if you could help me with the housework” or “I feel frustrated when I have to fold all the laundry myself.” If you’re living alone during this time of social distancing, use “I” statements to ask friends to chat via Zoom, FaceTime, or a phone call. For example, “I’d love to set aside time to catch up this week,” or “I’m feeling a little lonely, are you free to talk?”

You can also talk to AltaMed. We’re here to support you and your entire family’s health needs, from head to toe. We’re also stepping up our efforts in the community to support those who need it most. AltaMed has got your back, and we want you to take care of yourself – from the inside, out!
 

Sign Up for Articles

Sign up to receive email updates on the information that matters to you and those you love.

LA’s Public Schools Are Closed. Here’s How to Help Your Kids.

March 22, 2020

Last week, LA Unified School District officials announced that public schools would close to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. COVID-19 is a serious threat that still isn’t quite understood. While the closures are necessary to protect public health, there are now hundreds of thousands of parents unsure of what to do with their kids unexpectedly out of school.  These tips will help you give your kids the support they need to do their best so we can all get through this together.


Talk to Your Children About What’s Happening

Section 1You can be a voice of strength and reliability when your kids need it most. They’ve already heard about the COVID-19 outbreak, and they’ve probably seen people wearing masks and gloves. Have an honest conversation with them.

If you’re feeling anxious or scared, wait to address their concerns until you can show them you’re calm. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Be honest. Let them ask questions and do your best to provide them with truthful answers. Keep it age-appropriate but don’t sugarcoat it. 
  • Emphasize what we can do to stay safe. Talk about the importance of handwashing (and how to do it right – remember, 20 seconds) and explain why everyone is being asked to stay in their homes (social distancing).
  • Remind them that this is temporary. Let them know that things will go back to normal. Until then, they’re always welcome to ask you questions if something is worrying them.

 

Stick to a Routine

Section 2Creating, and then sticking to, structure can comfort children, especially in uncertain times. Whenever schools reopen, your kids will be ready to go back if they have a good routine now. 

  • Have your child get up at the same time as they would normally.
  • Even if it seems cozier to work in pajamas, insist that your child shower, groom properly, and put on real clothes. You should set a good example for them and follow these tips yourself.
  • Set up an area of your house especially for schoolwork and homework – in fact, you may want to create a couple of different areas, similar to the school experience. Keep these areas comfortable but free of distractions. 
  • Structure lessons and homework similar to a school day, with time for working on specific subjects, breaks, and lunch. 

 

Get Some Help from Public Television

Section 3Ideally, your children’s schools have provided some learning opportunities and lesson plans. Southern California’s public television channels are also stepping in to provide educational programming that meets California standards. According to Deadline, KCET and SoCal PBS will be rolling out scholastic programming to help fill the gaps:

  • PBS SoCal will run programming for pre-K through 2nd grade. 
  • KLCS will run programming for grades 3 to 8.
  • KCET will run programming for grades 9 to 12. 
  • PBS SoCal and KCET will air their normally scheduled programming in primetime. 
  • KLCS will continue to air a mix of pre-K through grade 12 content throughout the evening and overnight.

All of the stations’ websites and social media channels will feature additional educational programming, so make sure to tune in and log on to take advantage of it.

All of the stations’ websites and social media channels will feature additional educational programming, so make sure to tune in and log on to take advantage of it.

 

Don’t Throw Out Your Healthy Eating Habits

During times of uncertainty, it’s natural to want comfort – and reach for comfort foods like tamales, macaroni and cheese, and pizza. Even though these foods are tasty and sometimes feel like a hug from the inside out, now is the time to double-down on healthy eating! A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains can help keep us well, support our immune systems, and help maintain a healthy weight. 

  • Serve a wide variety of foods to help kids get the nutrients they need.
  • Sugary and fatty foods can also make you feel down or anxious, so keep treats to a minimum.
  • Provide healthy snacks, but remember, you’re the gatekeeper: just because they’re home, they can’t go to the fridge whenever they want.
  • Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that ‘superfoods’ like garlic can treat COVID-19. Natural foods may have good general health benefits, but there’s no miracle food that will prevent or cure the disease.


Help is Available if You Need It

 


woman on phoneAs a parent, you’re supposed to be strong for your kids, but we know it isn’t always easy, especially during these uncertain times. AltaMed is here for you – and so are many additional community resources. 

If you’re feeling depressed, anxious, or find yourself turning to alcohol or drugs to cope, contact AltaMed Behavioral Health Services. Call us at (855) 425-1777

LAUSD is opening 60 centers that will be stocked with ‘grab and go’ meals. Hours are from 7am to 10am, but please check the website and the maps before you go.

Many retailers and organizations in our community are stepping up to help out. This includes El Torito restaurants, offering free meals to children 12 and under; as well as Everytable, offering free food to everyone who needs it, including home delivery for seniors. To learn more, call Everytable Helpline at 323-458-6487, or follow their Instagram for updates.

And finally, one piece of good news: for now, your SNAP benefits are safe. Mayor Eric Garcetti has assured us all that grocery stores will continue to be open and stocked with necessities, so use your benefits wisely. 

We know it’s a lot to deal with, but if we all stick together and help each other, there’s nothing we can’t overcome!
 

COVID-19, Flu, Allergies or a Cold? A Helpful Guide to Knowing the Difference

March 17, 2020

In Southern California, flu season seems to last longer and longer each year. Thanks to drier winters and less rain, allergy season starts earlier every year. And at the moment, our nation is justifiably worried about COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus.

If you’ve got a sniffly nose, a sore throat, and a fever, you may not be 100% sure what you have. We’re here with information that will hopefully put your worries at ease, and help you determine what kind of care you need.

 

Are Coronavirus and COVID-19 the Same?

Coronavirus

Not exactly. Coronavirus refers to a large family of viruses. Some of these viruses make people sick with the common cold. COVID-19 is the name of the disease we’ve all heard about. The type of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is so new, we still don’t know very much about it.

 

COVID-19 vs. the Flu (influenza)

When we started to learn about COVID-19, many people compared it to influenza, most commonly known as the flu, in terms of symptoms and how it spreads. Both are infectious respiratory illnesses, but they’re caused by entirely different viruses.

Symptoms in common: Both illnesses cause fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, body aches, fatigue, and even vomiting or diarrhea. Symptoms can be mild or severe and turn into pneumonia. Both can be fatal.

It may be possible for a sick person to have symptoms so mild, they don’t realize they have the disease, and so they may walk around spreading the virus to healthy people.

How the diseases spread: Both can be spread from person to person from the droplets that come from sneezing, coughing or even talking.

AND: Experts believe that COVID-19 is powerful enough to live on surfaces long after the infected person is no longer present.

Be proactive: Vaccinations are highly effective at preventing the flu. That’s why we strongly recommend everyone in your family get their shots every year.

Unfortunately, there still isn’t a vaccine for COVID-19 yet. Your best bet for preventing it is proper handwashing, staying home if you’re sick, and social isolation.

Treatment: Because both diseases are caused by a virus, antibiotics won’t do any good. Instead, doctors aim to treat symptoms, such as reducing fever and suppressing a cough. However, both can be serious and require hospitalization.

 

Coronavirus vs. Allergies

Allergy symptoms are usually quite different from COVID-19 symptoms. Unlike COVID-19, which is a virus, allergies are your immune system’s response to a foreign substance.

Symptoms: Allergy symptoms include itchy or runny nose, rashes or itchy skin, and watery eyes. In extreme cases of anaphylactic shock, your air passage shuts down, and it rapidly becomes difficult to breathe. Difficulty breathing is also a symptom of COVID-19, but with allergies, the onset is almost immediately after encountering a specific trigger.

Transmission: Allergies aren’t contagious like a cold or flu, so there’s no chance of spreading it from one person to the next. Allergies do have a genetic component, which is why it may seem like other people in your family have them at the same time you do.

Prevention: Unless you do allergy testing and shots, your best method for preventing allergic reactions is to keep an allergy diary and then stay away from your triggers.

Treatment: You can usually treat allergy symptoms with common, over-the-counter remedies, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and medicated lotions to help relieve itchy rashes and hives.

 

COVID-19 vs. the Common Cold

Mild cases of COVID-19 may be mistaken for a cold.

Symptoms in common: Because many of the symptoms are the same, it can be tough to tell the difference. Experts say that if your first symptoms included a sore throat and runny nose, it’s likely just a cold. A fever could be a sign that it’s something more than a cold.

Prevention: The common cold is famously difficult to prevent. But following the same protocol for COVID-19 should help protect you.

Treatment: There’s not much you can do for a cold, other than treating the symptoms. Time-tested advice includes getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, using a humidifier, and taking age-appropriate over-the-counter remedies.

 

When Should I Go to the Doctor?

uncomfortable throat

First off, the good news is that about 80% of COVID-19 cases resolve quickly on their own when the person stays home, gets rest, and treats the symptoms.

Unless your symptoms get dramatically worse or you feel short of breath, you may not need to seek treatment (though it's OK to call your doctor and ask). AltaMed is advising our patients to treat mild symptoms just like you would treat a cold by staying home, taking over-the-counter cold treatments like Tylenol or Nyquil. Avoid other people until your symptoms go away for at least 72 hours without having to take these medications.

 

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, please confirm with your doctor the timing of when you are no longer contagious.

To learn more about COVID-19 precautions, treatments, and news, bookmark our Coronavirus resource page. And for the time being, AltaMed is waiving the cost-sharing and co-pays for medically necessary screening and testing for COVID-19.