By Carmen Rioja
Isolation and discrimination versus human contact: human contact is essential for mental and physical health. However, the coming times impose challenges that can only be fought and countered with health-maintaining containment measures. How then, to reconcile both needs that seem to oppose each other–isolation and human contact?
We must ensure that people experiencing a health condition, as well as family members and health professionals providing their care, have emotional and psychological support as well as adequate care in all other medical fields. Reports of the investigations by the Benemérita Autonomous University of Puebla show high rates of depression, anxiety disorders, and even deterioration in general health states caused by coronaphobia in cases of positive contagion as well as in non-infected persons. Yes, coronaphobia is a real term coined to explain the excessive fear of being infected or contagious and the discrimination that it causes. In conclusion, the fear of the disease is causing greater damage than the virus itself. Disinformation, fake, alarmist, or sensational news and popular myths can wreak havoc on mental health and even lead to serious harm.
How to enjoy life in these conditions and manage our own self-care? We need to go outside from time to time and socialize safely while protecting the community and ourselves from further contagion. To achieve this, we will have to learn more about the nature of viruses and much more about prevention methods and aids, but at the same time ensure that we do not cause acts of discrimination, social isolation, mistreatment, or unequal treatment.
In the first place, the “isolation” necessary to prevent contagion is not the same as emotional isolation, which is never recommended. It is true in the case of the highly contagious Covid-19 virus it is not recommended that any exceptions be made in terms of sanitary control; that is, use of a mask, hand washing, ventilation, disinfection of shared areas and utensils, and decreased mobility as well as unprotected physical contact with third parties. But emotional and psychic strength are also very important for recovery and even for the prevention of this same disease, because a strong immune system is essential to protect us. So perhaps we should replace the concept of “isolation” with that of sanitary containment. Eradicate emotional isolation and understand that what we call physical “isolation” only refers to the use of antiviral barriers such as masks and disinfection filters. Deprivation of human attention or presence is never recommended. We must attend expeditiously to all people whether or not they are sick patients as well as health professionals who are devastated not only because of this viral pandemic but also because of the secondary pandemic of anxiety and depression at a global level.
What can we do for ourselves and for others? A lot!
Make contact: look for those who need support. A call, a food delivery, or a simple daily message to monitor the general condition of our friends, family, and acquaintances will make a huge difference. If you feel that your spirits or your health are taking a nosedive as a result of this situation, find someone to talk with. There are civil associations, online forums, and institutions dedicated to meeting these needs either with a visit via electronic means or by telephone. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends clear practical measures while promoting non-discrimination. Discrimination can be more painful than the disease itself.
Get organized: it is essential that we maintain an order of self-regulation. No matter how many “quarantines” we have to go through, we want to achieve daily balance and structure in our lives. Planning regular activities such as maintaining work schedules even if it is at home will help to achieve it.
Eat healthy: remember, alone or in company, always eat at regular times. If you want fresh products at home for herbal teas, coffee, and artisan cheeses, I recommend the new service of La Miscelánea. The lovely Ana Francisca can send you a menu of products and take your order home to you on Fridays. Contact her Monday or Tuesday by Whatsapp: 415 114 0710.
Exercise: in addition to some recreational activities that you can do from home don’t forget to include a few outdoor experiences with the necessary protections and healthy distance. Going outside helps the brain to take new perspectives that will allow us to solve problems.
In San Miguel de Allende we have the company Bici-burro Tours, directed by Beto who has spent his whole life perfecting the best routes for cycling and hiking in the countryside. My favorites are those of San Miguel Viejo and the Sanctuary of Atotonilco; but I also loved climbing to the top of Los Picachos, an unforgettable experience. Call 415 152 1526 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org and learn about the options on his website: www.bici-burro.com
Carmen Rioja, Mexican artist who specialized in restoration of archaeological materials and creative workshops. She likes to write stories and poems and throw them in imaginary bottles into the sea. Rioja has published the books La Muerte Niña and Rojo 43.