Adapting to the New Normal

By Sheila Kun RN, BSN, MS, CPN, FCCP

When will this viral season end? It depends on whom you talk to. Most politicians want to be optimistic and hope it would come and go. However, working in a hospital, the reality check is on a daily basis; we were told to plan for at least another 12 months before we can conduct business as usual. What does it mean to me personally? I could handle a temporary lockdown of 2 months, but life has to take on a new twist for me to survive this tough time. Hence, we MUST prepare ourselves to tough it out at least for another year.

What should I do for the next 12 months? At work, in providing anticipatory guidance to my patients who depend on ventilators to breathe at home, I have three basic principles to operationalize the home care procedures; it has to be safe, it has to be easy and it has to be manageable. Think about the scenario of taking care of a child on ventilator support – who is going to watch him/her overnight? Even for parents who are not working, they cannot monitor the kid 24/7. Therefore, shift nursing service comes in, especially for night shift, to allow safe monitoring and rest for the parents.

Extrapolating from my experience at work, in dealing with the COVID 19 epidemics, I thought you might need to have strategies that you can use and they should be simple and easy to do. By coincidence, I came across a TV interview of a professional who specialized in organizational and productivity planning. I forgot her name, but I was able to capture her simple approaches to surviving this viral season.

It is called SELF:

S = sleep. It is a no brainer that sleep is of utmost importance to our health. We still don’t understand the exact mechanism of how sleep improves our brain function. But we do know that we attend better, learn better and make better decision when we are not sleep deprived. Hormonal regulation and improved immune system are other benefits accrued from good sleep hygiene.

E = exercise. For years I have been indoctrinated to this concept – exercise is medicine. If you Google, you can find a lot of publications on the effect of exercise on diabetes, cardiovascular function, obesity and bodily endurance and strength. If you have not started a routine exercise program for yourself, you might have missed out on many of the opportunities for better health. Exercise is cheap, especially something as simple as walking. It costs you nothing to walk, or raise up your arms or bend to the side to reap the benefits of exercise.  And frankly, the beautiful thing is, you can do it at any time.

L = love. I would be preaching to the choir if I have to elaborate on the topic of love. However, I just want to say, “love more”, and “love someone that you do not really care about”. You can decide on how to show your love in the latter situation.

F = fun. The Salesians are very good at this; preaching the Gospel to youngsters has to be fun or else you will lose their attention immediately. And at the same time, the activity has to be fun for you too. So pick a hobby or an activity that you enjoy. Remember the action has to be sustainable. Therefore, making it fun to me is a MUST. I never like gardening. My excuses were twofold: mosquitos like me a lot; I usually get mosquito bites doing gardening work. I am allergic to dust; my eyes will be painful and tears would rush out like a faucet. I am proud to say that I have overcome these issues the last three months. I have learned to cover myself from head to toe, so no more mosquito bites, I take my allergy medication and cover my nose and mouth with a mask. Indeed, I won! Now gardening is fun. I can see my tomatoes growing and my orchids decide to bloom out of nowhere. Best of all, my backyard is now frequented by birds taking a bath in the fountain, humming birds hovering the lavenders and butterflies weaving through the blooms.

I take on another meaning with this SELF approach. “I have to do it and it is all on me.” No one can save you or guide you to a more cheerful life unless you are ready. So cheer up, do it your SELF!

Your homework assignment from the Care Ministry this week: Check out if SELF an approach to better living for you.

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