Disinfecting Your Home And Clearing Your Mind
Loosening up of COVID-19 restrictions means grocery shelves will be restocked, but after the country's cleaning supply "March Madness," buying them again could resurrect bad memories. Don't let it stop you. Here are some tips to help you "keep your eyes on the prize": beating COVID-19!
Everyone has a critical role in making the country's reopening as safe as possible. This means not forgetting we are still in the midst of the first wave and accepting that a second wave is expected. Slowing and decreasing its severity is the goal.1
China’s second wave proves the need for continued vigilance. On April 22, China put a city of 1 million on lockdown when more than 70 people were infected. Reports state the source was traced to a student who returned home from New York.2 Heilongjiang, a Chinese province that borders Russia, reported 370 new infections since the beginning of April. Again, traced to people returning home from other countries. 2
How Your Thoughts Influence Your Immunity
There’s no magic pill to defeat coronavirus, but the world is working faster and more brilliantly than ever to fight COVID-19. It's a competition requiring speed and endurance. Pace is key.
Cleaning and tidying up your house frequently helps control the spread and can make you feel safer. Safety helps you relax. Relaxation helps keep your immunity strong.
Turning Requirements Into Choices
How to reposition the "need" for cleaning: Keep its urgency top of mind but visualize it more positively. It's a step closer to stability and better health for everyone. The country is moving from a defensive strategy to offensive. Instead of feeling "forced" to follow rules, see cooperation as empowering. You are choosing to play an active and beneficial role in the war against COVID-19.
Other ways to regain control include focusing on your health. You've been cooped up. Now or soon, when you have a chance to go outside and exercise (wearing a respirator of course and keeping social distance), remember how badly you wanted to get out of the house. If you've dreaded spring cleaning in the past, this year try viewing it through a different lens.
The Power Of Acceptance
A new lesson in balance: Embrace contradiction. What does that mean? Staying positive and living peacefully contrasts with words like "war, killing and death" which COVID-19 has brought into everyday life. Yet accepting both will help you emerge stronger. There is a war against COVID-19. The goal is to kill it, and the virus has claimed many lives.
Noted psychologist and creator of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Marsha Linehan, explains that challenges present us with four options: Leave it, change it, accept it or remain miserable.3 No one is immune to COVID's wrath. Even if you've literally developed immunity due to COVID-19 exposure, your life has been largely impacted. Accept it. Redirect your energy toward things you can change.
To help understand this and gain insight into your immune system's actual mechanics, picture all of the parts of your immune system working together blocking invaders or actively fighting. Anything that interferes with that focus weakens your army and benefits the enemy. The same holds true for your mood. It can boost or hurt your immunity. 4
On that note, let's practice balance and transition into hygiene and why it's a powerful weapon against COVID-19.
What's The Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting?
Cleaning means removing dirt, grease, grime, and other undesired “stuff” that you can see, feel or not see on surfaces and our body, “à la” showering and bathing. Disinfecting kills or neutralizes germs, bacteria and other harmful substances through the use of chemicals.
Disinfectants are typically harsh. Without proper skin and respiratory protection using gloves, a face mask and ventilation, you risk toxic exposure. Never mix cleaning products, follow all instructions and do not ingest. In case of accidental poisoning, call 911 or contact Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.
Bleach And Other Disinfectants
“Bleach” is actually a loose term that means to remove a substance. It’s often used as a verb.
Bleaching your hair means to remove color, usually with hydrogen peroxide. Skin bleaching, also very popular, removes or lightens hyperpigmentation like age spots, sun damage and pregnancy mask caused by hormonal imbalance. Hydroquinone is one of the most popular skin lightening products.
The household product "bleach" is the chemical compound sodium hypochlorite. It’s not the only agent effective in COVID-19 destruction. For a list of products tested and shown to kill COVID-19, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of products tested to kill COVID-19.
Disinfecting is advised when the virus is present in a form that makes contagion possible. This includes surfaces and the air, but if it gets in your nose or other mucosal membrane, it’s too late to disinfect (a nasal saline rinse or a hot cup of tea will not cure you). Take the necessary steps to protect yourself and others. If you think you may be infected with COVID-19 or another virus, seek medical advice using telemedicine.
Not everything needs to be disinfected. Focus on areas that are likely to transmit COVID-19 like entrances, indoor/outdoor spaces and frequently touched surfaces. Otherwise straightening up, organizing and regular cleaning with soap and water should be good. Of course use your judgement and follow CDC guidelines.
At least one rule that isn't flexible is keeping your hands COVID-19 free. Wash your hands with soap and water as soon as possible if you may have come in contact with COVID-19 and carry hand sanitizer with you when you're out in public.
The Mechanics of Bubbles And Pathogen-Eating Cells
The hallmark of soap is bubbles. Bubbles aren’t there just to look pretty as they refract light and create rainbows. Although if you are looking for a bonus assignment for your child’s at-home lessons check out this article that explains the phenomenon, also known as bending light.
Soap bubbles encapsulate dirt, oil and germs so they can be washed off with water. Although more complex, large white blood cells called macrophages kill pathogens by engulfing them and then digesting them with enzymes.
Turning On T Cells
Other types of pathogen-eating white blood cells, called phagocytes, include granulocytes, dendritic and neutrophils. Phagocytes are part of innate immunity because their reaction to all pathogens is the same. It's defined as a non-specific response.
Although they make up the immune system’s frontline, phagocytes can turn on adaptive immunity by alerting it about the presence of a pathogen and providing key information so T cells can gather data to launch a variety of specific attacks against pathogens.
With COVID-19 ravishing the body from so many angles, you can see the importance of infection-fighting white blood cells.
Learn more about your immunity and how to boost it: Strengthen Your Innate & Adaptive Immunity
1 How China is Attempting to Prevent a Second Wave of Infections. Bloomberg.com https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-28/how-china-is-attempting-to-prevent-a-second-wave-of-infections April 28, 2020. (accessed on April 28, 2020).
2 Thomson, Billi and REUTERS. China puts a city of 10 million 'on lockdown' to curb a new coronavirus outbreak after a student returning from New York 'infected more than 70. Daily Mail.com https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8248709/China-puts-city-10-million-lockdown-detecting-new-outbreak.html April 23, 2020 (accessed on April 28, 2020).
3 Woods, Rachel F. 14 Benefits of Practicing Acceptance PsychCentral.com https://blogs.psychcentral.com/cultivating-contentment/2018/08/ August 31, 2018 (accessed on April 28, 2020).
4 DeNicola, Audra. Accepting the Reality of COVID-19. PsychCentral.com https://psychcentral.com/lib/accepting-the-reality-of-covid-19/April 1, 2020 (accessed on April 28, 2020).