Living in a pandemic
By Sheldon Fisher
The effects of COVID-19 have had an exceedingly far reach and varied influence on the world at large, causing a great deal of unexpected change.
Many have been affected by the current pandemic in a number of ways, from companies shutting down, to the effect on the economy. The virus has even affected relationships and food production.
Numerous industries and sectors have been struggling to cope with the consequences of this global virus, and the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health breaks down the ramifications of COVID-19 on daily life into three main categories: Healthcare, Economic, and Social.
The healthcare sector deals with the illness directly, managing infection testing and quarantining, handling confirmed cases, and determining methods of not only controlling but preventing the disease, all on top of supporting already overworked medical professionals. They also have the difficult duty of overcoming supply shortages and ensuring that patients with other afflictions are not neglected.
The economy has been dealt a heavy hand as well, and the future feels like it’s up in the air in many cases. With businesses shutting down, many people have been laid off of work for unknown periods of time.
According to The World Bank, “global agriculture markets remain stable as food trade has remained more resilient than overall trade”.
Still, some shortages have occurred and continue to do so, and the biggest risks seem to be with interruptions for domestic food supplies. So far, prices seem to remain stable, however, uncertainty over the loss of income and potential effects toward future food security may cause these to fluctuate over time.
The social effects of COVID-19 are broad and can be hard to define. This ranges from the cancellation of large-scale events and travel, to the closing of restaurants, schools, and other establishments. Even simple social gatherings with family and friends have been greatly affected.
There are numerous articles and discussions currently, focusing on coping with the stress that comes with day to day life during a pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes a few of the symptoms that can arise from stress during an infectious disease outbreak.
One of the most obvious is fear. This includes fear over one's own health and the health of loved ones, stress over income, and fear of an unknown future. This can cause insomnia and other changes in sleep patterns.
Then there are changes in eating habits, accompanied by increased or new health problems. Many have sought self-medication with tobacco products, alcohol, and any number of other substances.
In a study described by Psychology Today, about a third of people surveyed described an escalation of conflict and a loss of intimacy in personal relationships during the pandemic. This disruption has influenced every aspect of intimate interactions. From the platonic to the extremely sexual.
No one knows exactly when an effective vaccine will be created, or more importantly, when things will return to normal; if they return to normal. For now, the best thing everyone can do is to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and others.
The CDCP offers a number of suggestions on what to do if you are sick. However, taking care of one’s mental health is just as important. But managing stress can prove a great deal more difficult.
Coping with stress includes taking care of the body with regular sleep and exercise, managing emotional health by pacing the amount of time spent watching television, reading, and especially consuming news.
Surviving an infectious disease outbreak is no small matter, and getting through this pandemic is going to require a lot of patience. It’s crucial people find time to relax and decompress, remain connected with loved ones and their communities, and seek additional help when necessary.