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The New Normal—How to Give Yourself a Fighting Chance

By Erin O’Brien

So much has changed since the last time I wrote Core Health in February 2020. The world is a vastly different place than it was just months ago. Coming off the World of Concrete in Las Vegas this past February, the industry was flying high – sales were strong, contractors were busy, the job market was strong and everyone was excited for a new decade. Who could have though that just weeks later, everything would change?

The COVID-19 pandemic and the coronavirus has changed the way we will work, play and live. It is a sobering reminder that we as humans are not in control and we will need to adjust the way we go about our day to day lives. Some of the lessons we have learned from this pandemic, however, are changes for good that we should all try to incorporate to our lives and this new environment.

The COVID-19 outbreak was especially deadly to those with pre-existing or underlying conditions that compromised their immune systems. Hardest hit was anyone who was obese, had heart disease, lung disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or cancer. Older people were certainly at the highest risk of mortality, but younger people were not immune. The good news is there are many things we can all do to reduce our risk of contracting COVID-19 from the coronavirus. We’ll call them “Best Practices to Avoid Virus Infection,” as these steps will protect you from other viruses, like the flu or many other viruses.

Wash Your Damn Hands

It feels weird to type this…of course everyone knows to wash their hands. But do they? How many times have you seen someone walk out of a public restroom without washing? Or how many times have you returned home from the grocery store (a place where thousands of people everyday are touching every imaginable surface) to touching the surfaces in your own home or office without washing your hands? We’ve all done it – but there is no excuse. This is the single most important weapon in your fight against getting sick. Hot water, soap and 20 seconds…that’s all it takes to clean your hands of any virus or bacteria you may have picked up while at the store, walking your dog, on the jobsite or even at your desk. So, wash your hands. Often. After you come home, after you use the restroom, before you eat, after you walk the dog, after you handle raw meat, before you prepare food…I could keep going, but you get the point right?

Drink Lots of Water

Another super easy adjustment, and one you should be doing anyway. Staying hydrated not only makes us feel better, it is a necessary component in keeping our body healthy and functioning properly to be able to fight off any viruses or bacteria we do encounter. Water means water – not coffee, not soda, not flavored sports or energy drinks…just water. Sparkling water, tea and fresh juice can also help here. Enjoying an adult beverage? Just make sure to throw in a few glasses of water in between those beers, cocktails or glasses of wine. A few simple tips to get enough water throughout the day – drink one glass of water in the morning, a glass with each meal, one before you go to bed and one before and after any physical activity. That’s at a minimum. This will help keep your body in top shape to try to fight off any infections.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Common sense here – if you feed your body nutrients and less crap, it is better equipped to fight off invaders (viruses and bacteria). Try to eat a large portion of fruits and vegetables at every meal, cook at home when you can, avoid fast food, avoid processed food and include protein, carbs and veggies at each meal. If you do order out or pick up, get rid of the external packaging as quickly as possible just in case there are any lingering virus particles (unlikely, but could be possible). When you choose to eat out at restaurants again, take advantage of outdoor seating – some recent studies have shown that the virus could be transmitted and circulated through the air conditioning system indoors, potentially exposing all diners to a virus if one patron is infected.

Stop Smoking

There is no debate – smoking causes a multitude of respiratory issues and cancers. As this virus attacks the respiratory system, any deficiencies there will increase your risk of contracting the virus and dealing with much more significant symptoms and possibly an increased risk of death. This includes smoking cigarettes and cigars, vaping and smoking e-cigarettes. New research shows that smoking weed also increases your risk of developing more severe symptoms from COVID-19. So, for your family, yourself, your health – just stop.

Avoid Large Crowds

Eventually, we will be able to concerts, theme parks, football games and other large gatherings again. But should you? That’s WWW.CONCRETEOPENINGS.COM CONCRETE OPENINGS | 1 1 up to you – it would be at your own risk. Social distancing works in preventing the transmission of coronavirus. There is no distancing at any of these large gatherings. Tens (or hundreds) of thousands of people packed tightly together in a small area, breathing, yelling and sweating on each other. You will have to decide if the risk is worth the reward. It’s likely that we will not be allowed to go to any of these venues until there is a vaccine – or it will look vastly different. But if and when we do, consider avoiding extremely crowded places, wear a mask, wash your hands often and don’t eat or drink anything from the venue. So maybe instead of your usual family trip to Disney World, consider exploring one of the many beautiful national parks all over the country. There’s no proof (yet) that bears can transmit coronavirus!

Use Common Sense

Are you a high-risk individual? Do you live with someone who is? Do you see your elderly parents or grandparents often? Are you not feeling well? Use your best judgement when navigating through all of this. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. If you don’t feel well, stay home and don’t expose anyone unnecessarily. Be kind. Be smart. Get tested if you’re not sure. Slow down just a bit and enjoy it. There has never been a better time to figure out who and what really matters to you.

Take a Mental Health Break

Working from home, kids out of school, everyone under one roof with nowhere to go…this is a stressful time for us all. Make sure you carve out some time for yourself. It’s ok if you snap at your kids or your spouse or a co-worker – none of us know how to handle this new environment and we’re all going to have a learning curve. You can’t take care of your family and perform your job to the best of your ability if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Take a few minutes, or an hour, each day to do something that you want to do, alone. Communicate with your family what you need and be sure to listen to their needs too. I sincerely hope that all of you are safe and healthy. I hope that something positive came from this for you. Maybe you picked up a new hobby, built something cool in your backyard, learned a new skill or finally made progress on all those projects on your list that have been piling up for years. I, like many others, learned how to make sourdough bread, pretzels and pancakes. I am also working on a new home office and plan to work from home on occasion. Finally, I adopted a puppy. I’ve also found a new appreciation for a cup of coffee on the porch in the morning and a happy hour cocktail with neighbors and friends at sunset. Slow down, relax and figure out what really matters to you. Make sure you too find some positivity that you didn’t have before. We all need it.

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