It’s hard to focus on anything other than the COVID-19 outbreak happening around the world. News reports share grim statistics and other daily details about surges in new cases, the climbing death toll, and stories of those who refuse to comply with important social distancing practices.
Social media sites are filled with people pleading for everyone to stay home as isolation becomes our new normal. We’ve seen a lot of information about the importance of flattening the curve, although at this writing, the curve continues to increase in the U.S. The negative news can be overwhelming for those who follow the pandemic closely.
I’ve previously written about the importance of caring for our mental health while living with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). This is a topic not always addressed or monitored by medical teams, although they give it their best efforts. As a result, I believe patients need to be aware of their mental health, and what they can do to ensure that their minds remain as healthy as possible. Given the overwhelming news about COVID-19, monitoring our mental health is more important than ever.
I’ve also written about anxiety and how I previously considered myself lucky as I’d rarely experienced it. However, since my IPF diagnosis nearly four years ago, I am far more anxious than I ever used to be.
When others talk to me about COVID-19 and explain how deeply their community has been affected, especially those overseas, I feel my heart ache for them. I am an empath and feel the hurt that others experience. When I turn on the television and see a news report about a steady increase in coronavirus cases, I feel anxiety in my stomach as knots form. Then, as I see pictures of the elderly, a vulnerable population, lacking basic necessities because of panic buying, I cry.
I worry about how COVID-19 would affect me if I caught it as a patient with severely compromised lungs. I also think about those I love who live with chronic health conditions and the devastating consequences COVID-19 would have on them. When I’m overwhelmed, I focus on reframing my thoughts, and I’ve challenged myself to do this during the pandemic.
It’s hard to imagine that good things are happening in the world right now, but yes, good things remain afoot. I’ve compiled some good things I’ve noticed lately and want to share them with you in case you need a shift in perspective, as I often do. My beautiful co-columnist Christie Patient also wrote about some silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following is my list:
- Unexpected check-ins: I have been living with IPF for nearly four years, and it is no secret to my friends, family, and acquaintances that I have this disease. I can’t count the number of texts or emails I have received from people saying that they are thinking of me. This simple gesture means so much. While I remain in the hospital and in strict isolation, the kind words of others really lift my spirits.
- Learning to slow down: It’s become trendy to showcase how busy we are in our everyday lives. Think back to a recent conversation in which you asked someone how they’re doing. What was their response? I’d bet the answer included something about being busy. COVID-19 has forced us to slow down, and it has released us from the confines of hectic schedules. While many are struggling with boredom, this pandemic is a reminder that we need to slow down and learn to be still again.
- Environmental impact: I recently read a report of marine life spotted in the canals of Venice for the first time in many years, due to the now crystal-clear waters. Satellite images are drastically clearer as well, as carbon emissions have been reduced. Birds can be heard chirping and wildlife is in abundance in other large and heavily populated cities. Might our beautiful Earth be healing a little bit as we learn to be still? I’d like to think so.
- Gratitude and quality time: Despite many things being canceled or postponed, quality time with family is not. When I get a little better, I look forward to utilizing technology, such as FaceTime, to keep me connected to the people I love most. I am grateful to have these tools at my fingertips to remain connected, and encourage everyone to focus on quality time with their loved ones from a safe distance.
What are some of the things you are grateful for? Please share in the comments below.
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.
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