Going back to the ‘new normal’

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has not only temporarily disrupted our daily lives, but it will likely also change the way we work and interact in the longer term – perhaps forever. 

As countries across the world are exiting lockdowns and relaxing their shielding guidelines for people with pre-existing health conditions, it may feel strange, and even intimidating, to re-enter public spaces and begin the process of adjusting to this ‘new normal’. Even more so, if you are living with a condition like MS, which may put you at a higher risk of infection or complications from COVID-19 than the general public1.

To make this process easier and help you prepare for day-to-day life in a COVID-19 world, we have collated some tips and advice that we hope will make you feel more confident and comfortable to return to your own new normality. However, please remember that if you experience any symptoms that you think could be related to COVID-19, you should stay at home and contact your doctor immediately.

Tips for returning to work:

  • MS comes in many shapes and forms, and so it may be a good idea to speak to your doctor to discuss your personal risk and the best plan for you to return to work. Your doctor knows your medical history and is in the best position to help decide the right approach for you. See if you can organize a phone or online consultation 
  • Across many industries, the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated incredible agility of workforces, processes and technological systems. Does your job allow you to work from home? Consider your options and see if it would make sense for you to delay your return to your physical workplace, especially if your office space is busy or if your commute requires you to take public transport
  • Speak with your manager or HR team about any adjustments that your company might be able to make to ensure that it is safe for you to return to work. They may be able to prepare a safer workspace for you, and inform your colleagues about any accommodations they may need to make

Tips for shopping safely:

  • Always use a face covering when in public spaces and wash your hands regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you are unable to get to a sink. Avoid public transport, busy spaces, and try to avoid touching any surfaces in public areas
  • If possible, try to do your shopping at quieter times or online. Especially if you’re living in a bigger city, busier hours around lunchtime and early evening can sometimes mean it is impossible to keep a safe distance from other people, increasing your exposure to the virus. The great thing is, you’re also likely to avoid the long lines to enter and checkout – it’s a win-win
  • Aim to pay with your contactless card or mobile device as much as possible. Touching cash means the potential to transmit the virus, and the same goes for ATM machines2, so minimize all contact to help keep yourself safe

Tips for socializing:

  • After months of self-isolation, many of us can’t wait to re-connect with our loved ones. To do so safely, avoid larger parties and gatherings, and meet friends and family outside and in small groups. 
  • Try to avoid socializing in closed rooms or spaces with bad air flow to minimize the risk of coming into contact with aerosols3
  • As unnatural as it may feel, it is important that you maintain social distancing at all times, even when meeting with friends and family. While local guidelines around socializing differ, it is wise to keep a safe distance with your loved ones to minimize your risk of contracting the virus
  • From Sunday Zoom quizzes to FaceTime catch ups, many people have found fun new ways of connecting with friends and family during this time. The lockdown may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop these new traditions! Instead of meeting in person, suggest to your loved ones that you keep regular virtual catch ups in the diary going forward – or introduce these new tools to your nearest and dearest if you haven’t already

Despite the different restrictions being eased, COVID-19 is and remains a very real health threat. Stay cautious and continue to follow local guidelines, as well as your doctor’s recommendations on the best next steps for you. For the latest guidance and tips, please visit the MSIF website

Finally, for tips, advice and support from the wider Living Like You community, keep an eye out on our website and Facebook page. If there is anything that this crisis has taught us, it is that we are all in this together.

 

References: 

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2020). People of Any Age with Underlying Medical Conditions. Available at:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fneed-extra-precautions%2Fgroups-at-higher-risk.html#neurologic-conditions Accessed July 2020.
  2. Paysafe. Combating COVID-19: Contactless payments on the doorstep. Available at: https://www.paysafe.com/blog/combating-covid-19-contactless-payments-on-the-doorstep/. Accessed July 2020.
  3. Nature. Mounting evidence suggests coronavirus is airborne — but health advice has not caught up. Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02058-1. Accessed July 2020.
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