Angie Alone At Home – Managing Yourself Through the Pandemic – Part 1
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My skiing vacation in St. Anton, Austria came to an abrupt end when we were asked around 2.30 pm while casually chatting on a chairlift to leave the town as soon as possible. By the time we returned to our apartment and while throwing everything into our luggage I told myself to keep calm. I wasn’t calm really but I functioned. My friend and I were too late. The train station was closed already, nobody was allowed to enter. Policemen with masks tried to be nice to us but we were concerned. People standing there in bulks waiting for buses, taxi drivers signaling “no” and the sudden realization that I couldn’t just call a friend or relative and ask for a pick-up. 

Because there is a chance that I contracted coronavirus. The next step was to try to get a ride to the next train station, but our landlord wasn’t allowed to leave the city. Walking was not an option either. Asking other people to take us on, probably a little late in the game. Through a friend, we got a ride to Zurich on a bus and I was very happy when my friend and I arrived at my home. It’s more than 24 hours ago and the shock seems over. I’m suddenly in a 2-week quarantine. 

This pandemic has disrupted life worldwide, resulting in (to-date) over 150,000 cases and over 5,000 deaths. You can see the live updates here

People are rightfully worried due to the unfolding scenarios: food and essential item shortages due to hoarding, misinformation and hysteria. Due to my role(s) I have been following the topic on all media for a while now. During the last week, I had a lot of good conversations with my friends. What I can share now are a few tips although I’m really in the middle of this experience myself right now.

Prepare for Self-Isolation

First and foremost, self-isolation requires letting the people around you know of it – the isolation is as much for their benefit as it is for yours. If you suspect that you do have symptoms of the coronavirus, you must also do the following:

  • Stay at home and separate yourself from all other people. If you can’t use a separate bathroom, disinfect all areas all the time.
  • Wash dishes in the washing machine.
  • Cut down your visits outside to the absolute essential medical visits. Call the doctor before you go there.
  • Store your waste securely, as it will contain used tissues and other potentially-infected litter that must remain with you until you are cleared of infection.
  • If your symptoms worsen, seek professional medical help immediately.
  • Don’t use communal washrooms. Hand wash your clothes and towels in your apartment.

For details on how to effectively quarantine yourself from others and best practices involved, please read this article detailing what to do in such a scenario. A list of what you should and should not do is also available here.

It is mandatory for those with travel history to stay in isolation, so please make sure you follow medical protocol.

Buy Groceries and Stock up on Food

If you’re like me you might not eat at home a lot. I’m the opposite of a hamster buyer so I really needed my friend to go out grocery shopping yesterday. I will look into online orders when I run out of essentials. 

Remember that we are Not at War

This is a crisis and a pandemic and maybe worse than anything we have experienced in our generation but do you remember Chernobyl in 1984? I felt similar then. We were not allowed to go out even though we couldn’t really see the “danger”. Still, we’re not at war. Shops are still operating and we have access to clean drinking water from the tab here.

The images you are seeing online of empty shelves in grocery stores, barren city centers and overflowing hospitals (especially in Italy) can make you panic. You must ensure that you don’t so that you can follow the common sense but critical advice from the government and medical professionals. For me, the best way to avoid panic is by working and prioritizing.

Follow the Guidelines of Your Local Authority

In Switzerland, this is the BAG. https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home.html

I find their updates very helpful. If you live in another country follow the guidelines set by your local authorities, both administrative and healthcare. 

That means, avoid unnecessary contact with others or your face, wash your hands frequently and definitely self-quarantine if you have returned from another country or a known “hotspot”.

I was asked to inform the authority about my quarantine and I contacted the cantonal office for Zurich. They shared these links with me.

https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/de/home/krankheiten/ausbrueche-epidemien-pandemien/aktuelle-ausbrueche-epidemien/novel-cov.html

https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/de/home/krankheiten/ausbrueche-epidemien-pandemien/aktuelle-ausbrueche-epidemien/novel-cov/selbst-isolierung-und-selbst-quarantaene.html

Get Medical Advice from Your Doctor or Trusted Sources

I read a lot online and most medical information is not backed by evidence and if you’re not sure you can trust the source you can always get a second opinion from your doctor by email or phone consultation. For example, I read twice now that you should only take Paracetamol against the symptoms.

https://twitter.com/CHUVLausanne/status/1239144803847360512?s=20

Coronavirus Infoline for CH +41 58 463 00 00, 24/7.

Plan how you will Deal with a Lockdown

Most European countries have shut down schools, educational institutes, theatres, libraries, and public gatherings. So far, public transportation in Switzerland still seems to run on the clock as usual. However, there will be delays and changes due to border controls. Also, currently, it looks like I won’t be able to go home to my family for a while. I assume we will need medical clearance before crossing a border again.

Stop Your Business Travel to Other Countries

If you haven’t yet got stuck anywhere, there is a high chance that you will get stuck next week. Unless you are an MD who saves lives I’m not sure if your business trip is really needed right now. I suggest you cancel your trips until Easter. Then you can reassess the situation.

Replace “Essentials” with Home-Made Products

Due to the unfortunate shortages created by people stockpiling items, you may be seeing empty shelves in supermarkets and grocery stores. Most shops now have implemented limits to how many of each item people can buy, ensuring that everyone will be able to get essential items such as hand sanitizers, toilet paper, and basic food. However, where this is not the case, think about ways to replace “essentials” with home-made products and buy the ingredients now. For example: Could you use the old newspaper to make your own toilet paper? Or how about creating your own alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Innovate

Most of Europe is in some degree of shut down at the moment, which means that both people’s daily personal lives and their work routines are affected. Businesses both large and small have been impacted by the disruptions, facing varying levels of financial hardships. Startups, in particular, will be hit hardest, particularly those which require mobility from employees.

That said, however, innovation is essential for any startup’s success and this incident should be treated as yet another opportunity to innovate. Thanks to high-speed internet and laptops, most professionals are able to work remotely from home for this period. However, this increased load on cloud services such as Slack, Zoom, and Hangouts has resulted in those services experiencing slowdowns and issues in the face of such unprecedented load. 

Upgrades to those services don’t have hard timelines because of the restrictions in place, so organizations have been clever about it. I know of a few companies who have implemented a sort of time-share for work hours. 

They have divided people’s working hours into slots to balance the load on remote/cloud services and ensure better productivity than everyone clamoring to log in remotely. A few other businesses are alternating workdays for teams – while slower, this works better for more project-oriented work.

Take stock of the remote working conditions of your teams and order laptops and mobile phones if you have not done so yet.

It’s also vital that you review deadlines and stop pestering your teams with less critical topics right now. Prioritize!

Establish emergency contact groups with your team either via Whatsapp or Slack.

Take Small Steps

Constant media coverage reinforcing the difficulties faced ahead and the issues happening currently, worry about loved ones and humanity, in general, all take their toll. Therefore, I would advise you all to steel your hearts and persevere – now is the time for us to show our resilience. If you are struggling, the following steps may help:

  1. Take things one day at a time. What are you working on today? What are you eating today? How are you relaxing today? 
  2. Set yourself small, achievable goals for the day. They can be work-related or personal. 
  3. Put aside some time for your favorite hobby. This is a stressful and anxiety-filled time for a lot of people, even if they are not consciously aware of their worry levels. Engaging in a relaxing hobby will help you regain a sense of calm.
  4. Check-in with loved ones at least once a day.

Resilience would be required a lot more for expatriates, who may find themselves in a tougher mental challenge than most. They could find themselves not being able to be reunited with their families or to care for elderly family members. Being away from family is tough on the best of days, but in this time of global worry, it is all the harder. I wish there was some instant solution I could provide or some concrete tip that could help out, but unfortunately, the reality is that as an expat you will have to bear this situation. 

If you are stuck in a situation where you are unable to be with your family, try to stay in frequent contact with them over messaging, voice and video calls. Both they and you will be feeling vulnerable right now, perhaps lost and reasonably worried, and talking to them could act as emotional support for everyone. You can also try to read up on the home country’s approved medical advice for the region and help your family understand and act upon it, to minimize their chances of contracting COVID-19.

If you want to repatriate, speak to your Global Mobility Manager now. Check if your company works with International SOS too.

Sleep is Important

Try to Get Sleep

It is easy to say “resilience” and be done with it, but the fact of the matter is that these are difficult times. People are and will experience helplessness, loss, grief and more – it is perfectly alright to feel all those things. Worry is a natural response to what is happening around us all, and in a situation like this where global events are out of our control, it is fine to be worried. A good way to regain some measure of calm would be to control the little things still in our power – organizing your house, getting your washing done or perhaps cooking and enjoying a meal.

If you find your sleep disrupted by anxiety or worry, you can try some of our tips on improving sleep. Sleep deprivation can affect your emotions even more so trying to maintain a good sleep cycle can help you manage yourself better.

Be Mindful About Your Statements About Other People

We have all been joking around about Italian pasta and the Chinese rice. However, we have to be careful that we are not all turning into a bunch of stigmatizing, prejudiced racists. Having coronavirus is not an act of God. It’s not a consequence of shameful behavior. At this point, it’s just bad luck. Let’s be mindful of how we treat people in this situation.

Think About Your Resources

My mom just asked me if I didn’t have any extra sanitizer in a bag at my grandmother’s house. Funnily, this was leftover from the RockMeRetreat 2018 and “parked” there with other materials. She will now give it to my aunt who’s at risk and I’m so grateful that I could help with something so small from a distance.

Keep Calm and Make a Plan 

I sat down yesterday with a friend and we wrote a list of how we will deal with this. Writing about the experience of being quarantined was a part of the list. We also agreed to check in on each other daily. I can hardly handle a Sunday at home without going out so the part where I’m isolated from my partner and other people needs a lot of self-care. 

If you are feeling confused or anxious, I recommend you speak to a doctor. People react differently to crisis situations and often it helps to talk about your experience. I also want to mention that sharing a bit more love and being a bit more empathetic than usual goes a long way here.

Kind Regards,

Angie

More Resources:

https://foph-coronavirus.ch/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/AS2020.030.00773D.pdf

URGENT request to stay at home now! This is a Doctor from UZH, one of our best hospitals.

https://doktor-video.wetransfer.com/downloads/66c890900962a8c5a4c7e3735edb523120200315210045/d058bf



One thought on “Angie Alone At Home – Managing Yourself Through the Pandemic – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Sleepless in Switzerland Through the Coronavirus Pandemic - Global People Transitions

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