Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to combat the COVID-I9. This virus has a lipid envelope (a layer of fat) around its internal structure. Once that lipid/fat layer is compromised the virus is pretty much rendered dead. Washing your hands with soap and water will dissolve the fatty outer layer of the virus. When washing your hands, make sure to cleanse with soap for at least 20 seconds, cleaning both sides of your hands and under your nails.
Additionally, some people might worry if the soap they are using is not labeled “anti-bacterial.” Remember, COVID-19 is a virus and it is unimportant if the soap used is anti-bacterial or not.
While hand sanitizer is helpful, it should be secondary to washing your hands. Hand sanitizer is less effective at breaking down lipids when your hands are greasy or soiled.
If your hands become dry and/or develop cracks in your skin from frequent washing, make sure to use hand lotion. Two lotions and creams that I personally find to be moisturizing are Aveeno Cracked Skin Relief Moisturizing CICA Balm with Oat and Beekman 1802 body cream. Also, here is a dry hand tip: consider moisturizing your hands before bed and covering them with cotton gloves while you sleep.
CDC and Other Recommendations
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If possible, put distance between yourself and those who are sick. And if you are sick, stay home.
Let’s face it, spring is coming and with those have seasonal allergies, sneezing and coughing is likely to occur, regardless of COVID-19. Cover your coughs and sneezes. Do this by coughing and sneezing into a tissue or place the inside of your elbow over your mouth. Please do not cough or sneeze into your hands! If you cough or sneeze in tissue, immediately throw it into the trash. Consider carrying a trash bag (i.e., plastic disposable bag) with you, for places that might not have trash cans readily available.
If you are sick, consider wearing a facemask when in the presence of others, such as in vehicles or a doctor’s office. If you do not have a mask, make sure to cover sneezes and coughs. If you are not sick, you do not need to wear a mask unless you are around others who are sick. Since face masks are in short supply, they should be reserved for medical professionals and caregivers.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. This includes countertops, door knobs, light switches, handrails, phones, keyboards, toilets, sinks, laptops and keyboards, and tablets. Consider cleaning such surfaces with disinfectants such as bleach, Lysol, or isopropyl alcohol that is at least 70%.
DIY Hand Sanitizer
Finally, I wanted to write about DIY hand sanitizer. If you are consider making DIY hand sanitizer, proceed with caution. You must keep in mind that isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) is already diluted.
CDC recommends at least 60% alcohol content by volume for hand sanitizer. Most common rubbing alcohol is already diluted, what I have in my home is rubbing alcohol with a 70% alcohol content (the remainder is purified water). So, a typical 50/50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water, would actually result in only 35% alcohol content by volume. This would be ineffective based on the CDC’s recommendation.
It is also important to note that rubbing alcohols are hygroscopic, which basically means they absorb moisture from the environment (the air). So previously opened bottles of hand sanitizer and alcohol, as well as very old bottles, may have lower alcohol content not only from the natural inclination for alcohol to evaporate if the seal is imperfect, but from the ingress and absorption of moisture that will lower the alcohol content by dilution.
The first step in managing your anxiety is to avoid exposure to COVID-19. As stated above, avoid being around those who are sick when possible. Also, consider avoiding places in which large groups gather when possible.
Take care of your physical health. Make time to exercise If you are avoiding gyms, exercise can be done at home and outside. Exercise enhances dopamine production and receptivity, which will boost and elevate your mood. Exercise also enhances serotonin production, which helps us feel calm and helps us sleep better.
Take time to de-stress. Consider meditation. Meditation does not need to be difficult. Every few hours, check-in with yourself. Take a few deep breaths. If you want to take this a step further, consider practicing a guided imagery meditations or yoga.
Don’t neglect your diet. While it is okay to buy non-perishable food as a precaution, do not buy all junk food. Consider buying healthy options, such as frozen fruit and vegetables, protein supplements, oatmeal and low-sugar granola, beans, soups, and seltzer water.
Check-in with others. Lean-in and touch base with friends and family. Maintain healthy relationships with others.
Seek help! It’s okay to ask for support. Counseling is an effective way to treat anxiety disorders. In counseling, you will learn coping skills to help you better manage anxiety and lessen the impact on your daily life. These skills can work towards reducing worry and eliminating racing thoughts, improving sleep, and stopping panic attacks. Counseling can also help you better understand how your body holds onto anxiety and help to reduce tension and pain that is caused by it.