A simple three step guide for successfully and safely moving forward with life and business during COVID-19.
As the founder of a health tech company, I've kept up with the latest on COVID-19 or the novel Coronavirus. A simple google search will land you on headlines that read, "Simple Math Offers Alarming Answers," "COVID-19 Is A Threat To Trump's Presidency," and "Man With Presumptive Positive Identified As Episcopal Rector." And yes, the article included a photo of the religious leader in his clerical clothes. If you, like me, are being bombarded by these alarming headlines (and photos), it may be difficult to avoid thinking about taking drastic measures — i.e. checking the confirmed COVID-19 cases and death tracker on the hour every hour.
And to add to the hysteria, we recently learned that our most beloved Hollywood couple, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson tested positive for Coronavirus. If it wasn't clear before, it is now. We are in the midst of a public health crisis. Successfully moving on with life and business during COVID-19 doesn't mandate you to turn off your notifications, but it does require a willingness to be more thoughtful about where you get your information and how to best prepare for your health and minimize the economic impact on the community at large.
To help, I created an easy three step guide for getting on with life in the midst of a public health crisis with women in mind. Because let's face it, we already have a 200+ year waiting period until we can enjoy equal pay. So while others are keeping themselves distracted with doomsday theories, get informed, make a plan of action, and get ahead.
Use the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as your primary source of information. Getting the facts correct in any public health crises is paramount to taking the correct action. The CDC is responsible for controlling the introduction and spread of infectious diseases in the US. While their slow release of COVID-19 testing kits has received a great deal of criticism, their ability to provide the most up-to-date information on what you should know, situation updates, and information for specific audiences, has made them one of the most reliable sources of information in the US. So before you find yourself repeating or acting on second-hand information from a friend or family member (I'm guilty as well), consider checking out the CDC's information page on Coronavirus instead.
Know what your plan of action will be if you experience COVID-19 symptoms. According to the CDC, early data indicates those who are most at risk include those who are immunocompromised (i.e. COPD, diabetes, HIV positive). If you are living with one or more of these illnesses, inform a trusted friend who can advocate for you in the case of an infection. If you fall into the category of "relatively healthy" think about what you can do to prevent the spread and unnecessary interruption to your life. For one thing, did you know that in most people COVID-19 can be treated safely at home? By using virtual care services, like Doctor on Demand or Teladoc, as opposed to walking into a clinic, hospital, or office setting, you're not only limiting your exposure to COVID-19 in the case that you don't have it but also limiting the exposure of health care workers and other members of the public should you, in fact, have Coronavirus.
Knowing ahead of time whether you plan on calling into your primary care provider or booking a live video visit to get expert clinical advice, can make all the difference in giving you the peace of mind that you need to get on with your personal and work life. If you need help choosing the right virtual care provider, view what is available and use our virtual care service and price comparison tool at Hello Jessie.
Make small adjustments to your daily routine before taking drastic measures. Before locking yourself in an underground bunker (Blast from the Past reference anyone?) consider taking a few precautions to help protect yourself and others from coming into contact with COVID-19 — all the while supporting the businesses that you love.
As of now, the CDC advises that it's safe to venture out of the house as long as you take precautions such as frequently cleaning your hands with soap or hand sanitizer and staying at least 3 feet away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing. However, this recommendation does not apply to people in high-risk groups who are being advised by the CDC to avoid crowds. That said, if you are a "relatively healthy" individual and you want your business and the businesses that you love patronizing to still be around by the time the current public health crisis subsides, make a point to get out and support them (just don't forget to sanitize your hands when you get there and before you leave). By making these small adjustments, not only do we have a better chance of containing the spread of COVID-19 but also of keeping our economy, especially small businesses, intact.
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The Armchair Psychologist has all the answers you need!
Help! I Might Get Fired!
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
What's the best way to be prepared for a layoff? Because of the crisis, I am worried that my company is going to let me go soon, what can I do to be prepared? Is now a good time to send resumes? Should I save money? Redesign my website? Be proactive at work? Make myself non-disposable?
- Restless & Jobless
Dear Restless & Jobless,
I'm sorry that you're feeling anxious about your employment status. There are many people like yourself in this pandemic who are navigating an uncertain future, many have already lost their jobs. In my experience as a former professional recruiter for almost a decade, I always told my candidates the importance of periodically being passively on the market. This way, you'd know your worth, and you'd be able to track the market rates that may have changed over time, and sometimes even your job title which might have evolved unbeknownst to you.
This is a great time to reach out to your network, update your online professional presence (LinkedIn etc.), and send resumes. Though I'm not a fan of sending a resume blindly into a large database. Rather, talk to friends or email acquaintances and have them directly introduce you to someone who knows someone at a list of companies and people you have already researched. It's called "working closest to the dollar."
Here's a useful article with some great COVID-times employment tips; it suggests to "post ideas, articles, and other content that will attract and engage your target audience—specifically recruiters." If you're able to, try to steer away from focusing too much on the possibility of getting fired, instead spend your energy being the best you can be at work, and also actively being on the job market. Schedule as many video calls as you can, there's nothing like good ol' face-to-face meetings to get yourself on someone's radar. If your worries get the best of you, I recommend you schedule time with a qualified therapist. When you're ready, lean into that video chat and werk!
- The Armchair Psychologist
HELP! AM I A FRAUD?
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I'm an independent consultant in NYC. I just filed for unemployment, but I feel a little guilty collecting because a) I'm not looking for a job (there are none anyway) and b) the company that will pay just happens to be the one that had me file a W2 last year; I've done other 1099 work since then.
I'm sorry that you're wracked with guilt. It's admirable that your conscience is making you re-evaluate whether you are entitled to "burden the system" so to speak as a state's unemployment funds can run low. Shame researchers, like Dr. Brené Brown, believe that the difference between shame and guilt is that shame is often rooted in the self/self-worth and is often destructive whereas guilt is based on one's behavior and compels us to do better. "I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it's holding something we've done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort."
Your guilt sounds like a healthy problem. Many people feel guilty about collecting unemployment benefits because of how they were raised and the assumption that it's akin to "seeking charity." You're entitled to your unemployment benefits, and it was paid into a fund for you by your employer with your own blood, sweat, and tears. Also, you aren't committing an illegal act. The benefits are there to relieve you in times when circumstances prevent you from having a job. Each state may vary, but the NY State Department of Labor requires that you are actively job searching. The Cares Act which was passed in March 2020 also may provide some relief. I recommend that you collect the relief you need but to be sure that you meet the criteria by actively searching for a job just in case anyone will hire you.
- The Armchair Psychologist