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10 Ways Latinos Can Stay Mentally Healthy In Quarantine

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Being quarantined isn't easy, but there are steps we can take together to make the situation easier.

On March 31, 2020, Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey enacted a Stay-at-Home order for my home State. It was to begin at 5PM that evening and last for a minimum of 30-days.  We were not the first State to do so and certainly will not be the last.

Such an order has affected how I see and treat my patients. So far, as an essential business to remain open and functioning during this time, we have been able to make arrangements to see patients on a limited face-to-face basis following all CDC and ADHS protocols, as well as via the internet, telephonically and other digital services.

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As a health care professional, it is my job to see to my patents’ well being and to be a source of information and comfort to others around me. This contagion has made many people more anxious and is particularly worrisome for those already at risk, not just from the virus, but from the additional strain on their mental well-being. 

During this period of Stay-At-Home (a.k.a. Lockdown) and the COVID-19 safety protocols, it is important to keep ourselves healthy and well.  Time confined to our homes can, for many, induce feelings of anxiety, stress, loneliness or obsession.

In order to help you stay safe and able bodied, we recommend the following:

Limit Input

Even though “knowledge is power” it is important not to overload yourself with information, as much of it may not be accurate or true.  Make sure that your sources are trusted and not just hype or information from friends, family members and social media that has not been vetted or confirmed.

Source information from trusted experts such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and your local state or city health office. It is also important not to “stoke the fire” with misinformation or conjecture through COVID gossip and try not to overreact to extreme projections or predictions in either direction.

Set a Schedule

Set specific times for certain activities such as exercise, work, meditation and fun, and stick to it as if this was your normal routine. Keep yourself busy and productive in and around your home. Write it on a board, use your phone alarms to keep you on track or write it on a piece of paper and post it on the fridge.

When it is time to work—work. When it is time to exercise—exercise. And when it is time to relax—relax. You will be amazed at how fast the days go and how productive you may be.

Check in with Friends, Family and Your Provider

We are all in this together and we should not go it alone. Use social media, phones, Facetime, etc. to connect with those you care for and even reach out to some that you have not spoken to in a while.

Listen to and comfort each other. Understand their specific situation and be supportive to one another. An acquaintance in Japan told me of their rapid recovery providing much hope for me in this time.

Personal Growth

Take this time to improve yourself by taking an online class, reading, starting a new hobby or writing/journaling. Yale University is offering a free on-line course—“The Science of Well-Being.” Multiple museums are providing virtual tours as well.

The internet is full of experts, both real and imagined, so explore a bit.  For a more cathartic experience begin a personal journal, blog or vlog. Record how you are feeling day-by-day and use it as a tool of stress release and creativity.

Exercise

Start slowly if a beginner and try and challenge yourself each day to achieve new levels. Keeping yourself strong and fit is a protective measure against poor health and the virus.

There are myriad methods of training to try from Yoga and Tai Chi to Body-weight exercise challenges that need no equipment to full-on weight routines with a virtual personal trainer. Regardless of the method; get moving!

Listen only to Rational News Sources

We recommend the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as a trusted source of data concerning this outbreak. The amount of mis-and dis-information circulating is astonishing and is causing more panic than good. Also, be sure to source your own personal physicians who are keeping up with the facts on the ground in your area.

Limit Consumption

Of any substance whether it be food, alcohol, drugs, tobacco or other consumables. It is far to easy to open the fridge, freezer or pantry every time you walk by.

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Stress smoking, eating or drinking can lead to increased health issues and actually may put you at greater risk for the virus itself. Good health is the best defense against any illness. Overconsumption can compromise your health and immune system if not held in check.

Differentiate between Local vs Global Reality

What is occurring in other cities or countries may not be what is happening here in Arizona, in your city or your neighborhood. Look to your state and local government websites for up to date and accurate information concerning the virus and the virus response in your area. Just because one area of the globe is having a tough time does not mean it will happen in your neck of the woods.

Understand Your Personal Risk

Are you really at risk? Are you vulnerable? At the moment the most at-risk individuals as defined by the CDC are:

People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, those with serious heart conditions, compromised immune systems, severe obesity (BMI of 40 or higher), diabetics, people with liver and kidney diseases, especially those undergoing dialysis, caner patients receiving chemo, as well as those over 65-years of age, health care workers, pregnant women, those living in nursing homes and the homeless.

Help Others

There are elderly, infirmed, homeless people and pets who may need your help.  If you are healthy and use PPE, reach out to others in need. There are even on-line programs that allow you to speak to elderly and other at-risk populations using technology.

Though we need to be aware of preserving our own health, we should not lose our humanity over it. Find a safe place to help, volunteer and mentor.

These are truly unique times we are living through The Coronavirus and COVID-19 do not care about your political affiliations, personal philosophies or the color of your skin. This is a global challenge for all of humanity to bare. 

Together we can overcome this challenge and better prepare for futures ones to come. Allow this to unite and not separate, even when we are sequestered in our individual homes.

And lastly, please be aware of the stress indicators in yourself and others. If you or a loved one begins to show signs of distress such as—changes in sleep or eating patterns, difficulty concentrating, worsening chronic health problems, or increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs—please contact your health care provider.

Be well, and stay virus free.

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About the author

Dr. Lauro Amezcua-Patino

Dr. Lauro Amezcua-Patino is the clinical voice of The Only You (Solo Tu), a Podcast dedicated to simplifying the complex issues of the mind and mental illness. Originally from Mexico, he has been in clinical practice in the Metropolitan Phoenix Area for over 30-years.