Self-Care Strategies While Coping With the Coronavirus Pandemic for Wheelchair Users
About the author:
Margarita’s spinal cord injury occurred in 2006 after being shot in the neck. With three young children, and the loss of an unborn son, Margarita fought to survive and care for her family. After her injury, Margarita experienced many of the frustrations and emotions related to the loss of mobility – which feels similar to the shelter in place orders everyone is facing today.
Many people are feeling scared about COVID-19, especially those who are living with a pre-existing respiratory condition or disability. Despite social distancing, you’re not alone, and helping others with their fears during this time will give you a sense of purpose and personal healing. These tips can help you get through this stressful time.
How much news are you watching?
It’s essential to stay informed, especially about what’s happening in your community, but too much of anything is bad news. It’s also essential to know when you need a break from stressful news. When you need to, take a break and watch a movie, read a book, or video chat with friends. When you are ready to focus back on the news, watch or listen just enough to stay informed and follow advice to slow the spread of coronavirus.
- Stick to trustworthy news
- Limit how often you check updates
- Roll away if it overwhelms you
- Verify any information you share
What can you control?
There are so many things outside of our control right now. Everyone is asking: how long is this pandemic going to last? when will we regain a sense of normalcy? and what’s going to happen to our community? These are all valid concerns, but no one has a real answer. Focusing our time and energy on trying to answer these questions ourselves will only cause frustration, anxiety and even depression. Instead, focus on things you can control like:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid touching your face
- Keep your wheelchair clean
- Wear gloves to push your wheels
- Stay home as much as possible
- Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people
- Avoid all non-essential shopping and travel
- Keep a six-foot distance between yourself and others when out
- Follow recommendations from health authorities
- Keep an extra month of basic supplies, medications and medical supplies, if possible
- Don’t overstock!
Who are you talking to?
l miss actual human contact. Consider choosing to use a more personal form of communication besides social media to stay connected, such as phone or video calls with friends and family. Participate in virtual forms of activities. This is a time to get creative about maintaining virtual human connections. As a quote circulating in Italy reminds us: “We’re standing far apart now so we can embrace each other later.” Here are some connection ideas:
- Online book clubs
- Online movie reviews
- Online – religious ceremony or study groups
- Online fitness or dance classes
- Online peer-to-peer support groups
How are you taking care of yourself?
Binge-watching shows may be the easiest way to pass time, but not the healthiest! Maintaining an active routine is essential. Get back in touch with hobbies or activities you enjoy but rarely have time for, or take the time to learn a new skill. Most instructors, educators and faith-based leaders are moving to online instruction. This is a great time to join an online class in music, religious study, career development, fitness, dance and much more. Most importantly keep your body moving! Here are some great online classes you can consider:
What are you doing to help others?
Life can sometimes be a struggle, and when you add trauma, disability, chronic pain or illness to the daily “normal” routine, it makes life a little more difficult and easier to fall into a depressive state. When you take the focus off your burdens and genuinely help someone else with theirs, something magical happens. You forget about your struggle! Life simply gets easier. Take a moment and reflect on your purpose. How are you blessing others?
- Reach out to friends and family you do not connect with often
- Write a letter or send a card with words of encouragement to a senior, an in-patient or first responder (they would love to hear from you!)
- Participate in online peer-to-peer groups
- Help family members with home-schooling
- Donate to a food bank
- Stay apart together!
The most important takeaway is to recreate a new routine with safe social distancing that supports others while bringing yourself the encouragement you need to continue to push on!