By Anu Acharya
After a long, parched summer, we all look forward to the rains. Children look forward to splashing in the puddles and racing boats along tiny rivulets of rain water flowing down the streets. For the young at heart, it is time to let go of inhibitions and dance in the rain. Nothing brings more contentment than enjoying a freshly steeped cup of tea while listening to the pitter-patter of raindrops. For the farmer who relies on the monsoon to nourish the planted seedlings, it is a reaffirmation of the faith placed on nature’s bounty. Even mother earth and skies seem to welcome the rain with petrichor and rainbows.
It starts with a sniffle and before we know it we are down with a cold. One tiny mosquito can wreak unimagined havoc. We have learned to fight against some diseases and to live with others. That has been the normal for years. But this year, we have been trying to contend with a new threat — COVID-19. So, what happens during the monsoon season? Like all communicable diseases are we likely to see a rise in cases? Especially with the nation trying to learn to live with a pandemic. As we strive to reclaim our workspaces, will the monsoon bring in more than flooded roads and traffic jams?
Some eminent scientists have predicted the second wave — a surge in COVID cases during the peak of monsoon season. While there isn’t much data on the impact of monsoon on the novel coronavirus, we have certainly seen spikes in other viral, microbial, and vector-borne diseases. Let us consider some precautions that we can take to ensure good health for ourselves, our families, and our nation.
With the relaxation in lockdown and the onset of monsoon, now is the time to redouble our efforts to build immunity. This is important not only for ourselves and our families, but at our workspaces too. How can we do this?
Ensure optimum nutrition: With the relaxation in guidelines, paucity of food choices is no longer a concern – let us eat healthy. And ensure that our families and domestic workers eat healthy.
Use supplements: Vitamins and minerals are known to build immunity. Take them. Consult with a nutritionist if required. There are extremely affordable options – if you can, please ensure that everyone in your support system receives their daily dose of health supplements. A healthy support system translates to a healthy you.
Fitness: We often see a drop in fitness levels during the rainy season – for many the muddy roads and pouring skies are not really conducive for a jog, a trek, or even a trip to the gym. It is here that we can consider the lockdown as a blessing – we have learned to adopt indoor fitness routines. If you are using the gym at work or in your apartment, use appropriate sanitization techniques. Along with your water bottle and towel, learn to carry a disinfectant and sanitizer.
Sleep: Healthcare experts have been recommending optimum sleep to build immunity since before the outbreak of COVID in India. Now, it is especially important to get adequate sleep. As we start going to work regularly, we may be tempted to binge watch the latest web series. However, nothing relaxes us better than a good night’s sleep.
Stress: Stress is like a gateway. A door leading to many dangerous conditions. Adrenaline and cortisol can wreak the healthiest of the bodies. Our immune system too responds to stress. Meditate. Chill. Avoid Stress.
Welcoming the Next Normal
Many of us are really thrilled to get back to work – the prospect of getting out of the home may bring us blessed relief. Some of us are eager to reunite with the people with whom we spend the most productive hours in our day.
Underlying it all, there is a feeling of dread. Will we be bringing the virus home? Are our open doors likely to bring in the disease? Please understand that this fear is normal, human. It is nothing to be ashamed of or ridiculed. The history of humanity teaches us one important lesson – to move beyond fear as living under a rock is not a permanent solution. Let us think of ways to stop the spread in such times.
Follow the rules: The government and many organizations mandate social distancing and masks. Follow them to stay safe and prevent the spread of infection.
Constant vigilance: As the fake Professor Moody stressed in Harry Potter. Precautions are no longer a one-time deal. All it takes is one slip up and one can end up infecting self and many others. It is time to:
- Know yourself – learn about your immune system and build your strengths
- Monitor yourself – check for any symptoms when you step out
- Protect yourself – with masks and social distancing
Beyond the self: For all those who have faith in their strong immunity, it is not just about yourself. It is about your team members, family, and everyone you come in contact with. Wear the mask when you step out of your homes, even if it is inconvenient.
At times like these, a little kindness can also go a long way. It could be about listening to what a team member has to share (from a safe distance) or about donating masks or sanitizers.
Sanitize for Sanity
When in doubt, sanitize. It could be your work space or gym equipment or even the door knob. You can rely on others to do this for you or make cleanliness a habit.
This helps prevent many infections. 10 minutes of cleaning 10 AM every Sunday, as the leaders in Telangana say and do.
To Sum It Up
Let us understand that COVID is here to stay for a while. Monsoons, back to work, or any other challenges, it is time to move beyond fear, with caution and care. Build healthy habits — nutrition, fitness, cleanliness, and compassion. They can be your strengths to beat COVID-19 and many other infections.