Feeling Helpless? Here’s What You Can Do
Editor’s Note: We have a simple goal: tap into the power of the global diabetes community to save lives. Visit coronavirusdiabetes.org to learn more about what you can do as a person with diabetes to keep yourself and others safe from COVID-19 until we’re all safe.
This article was published in March 2020.
Feeling helpless in the midst of COVID-19? You’re not alone. There’s a lot we still don’t know about the virus and the situation is changing by the hour. One important thing to think about is separating what you CAN do from the things you cannot control. We’ve compiled a list of specific actions you can take to have a real positive impact for yourself, your family, and your community.
People with diabetes may be at higher risk should they contract COVID-19, so please take all of the personal precautions you need to at this time. Not everyone’s risk is the same, so be mindful of yourself and others. Take what works for you from this list and leave the rest. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what we missed, we’ll keep building!
Take basic precautions
Wash your hands often for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water. Practice social distancing, limiting travel, working from home, and rethink big events – these precautions are not solely for you but for those around you who may be susceptible.
Stay up-to-date with your local health department about COVID-19 in your area.
Connect with family
Stay in touch with friends and family virtually. Up the frequency that you communicate, and be clear about how you’d like to stay in touch. FaceTime or video chatting can be an awesome tool to feel close to those who are far away – without adding any risk for you or your loved one. Other ideas for staying in touch: start a family or friend group text, find games you can play together remotely, or set a regularly scheduled phone call.
Talk to the children in your life about what’s going on. Tell them we’re washing our hands and keeping to ourselves to protect ourselves and others to help them understand that this is about all of us, not just one of us. Ask if they have any questions and explain as best you can. For older kids and adolescents, asking “what are your friends saying about the coronavirus?” might be a good jumping-off point for starting a conversation to help clear up any misinformation.
Make a list of projects for children to help you with around the house, and teach them how to cook with your extra time at home – you’d be amazed at what they want to help with and how good they will feel knowing they are contributing.
Reach out to people who are most vulnerable
Think about the people you know, and be mindful of how the current situation might be impacting their specific circumstances. Elderly neighbors, grandparents, older relatives, friends with health conditions, anyone going through chemotherapy or the many, many, other circumstances that might contribute to the current level of anxiety. Reach out and ask how they are. Offer to listen or lend a hand — helping with simple tasks like grocery shopping and limiting the time they spend in public could make a huge difference. If you’re limiting your time in public, too, even just lending an ear at this time can help keep anxiety and loneliness at bay.
Don’t tolerate or perpetuate racism, particularly towards those of Asian or Chinese descent. Referring to COVID-19 as the “Wuhan” or “Chinese” virus may perpetuate racism and xenophobia. If you hear or read others referring to COVID-19 using those terms, please correct them. The importance and impact of being kind to one another cannot be overlooked.
Support your local community
Follow local public health departments and support local news. Journalists everywhere are working hard to keep the public informed about this rapidly-evolving situation. Now is a great time to purchase a subscription to your local news source if it is in your budget. Please also think about the sources of information you read, and try to verify their trustworthiness before you repeat it – the CDC and WHO are good for receiving global updates you can trust.
Donate to your local food bank (find one here). Donating money might be more helpful than donating goods, as food banks often get their items at wholesale cost (in many cases, a $1 donation is equivalent to 5 meals). If you’re well, experiencing no symptoms, and have low risk, ask what volunteer opportunities are available to assist with food distribution.
Support local businesses. If you are fortunate to have uninterrupted income during this time (i.e. can do their jobs from home) and have it to spare, consider transitioning purchases from chains to local businesses, buying groceries from local stores rather than large online retailers.
Consider purchasing gift cards now for use later at a gift store, book store, or local restaurant. Call and ask what they need, or if they’ll accept the transaction over the phone. Ask if they deliver or ship.
If you’re out and about, tip your waiters and waitresses, Uber and taxi drivers, stylists, barbers, and other service industry workers as generously as you can afford.
Offer support in other creative ways, like buying yourself or others a gift card online to use later, and shopping local businesses online if they have the capability. Reach out and ask what support these businesses need that you might be able to offer (i.e. even just sharing online about what they do).
Support the diabetes community
Help drive research + innovation. Sign up for the T1D Exchange Registry, a research study that pulls from your personal experiences and data to help accelerate the development of new treatments. Previous T1D Exchange research efforts have led to things like insurance coverage for test strips and changes in guidelines for A1C goals – your input has the power to make a difference.
Donate your data + impact others. Join the Tidepool Big Data Donation Project, helping further the reach of our collective knowledge about diabetes. Your data gets anonymized and Tidepool will also give back 10% of proceeds to the nonprofit organization(s) of your choice.
Share your voice. Talk to your network about the importance of social distancing and other steps you’re taking to minimize contact and stop the spread of this virus.
Connect with the Beyond Type 1 Community. Download the the Beyond Type 1 App and chat with others living with diabetes. We need connection with others now more than ever.
If you’re facing challenges around work + income
If your work hours were cut, file an unemployment claim.
Contact your creditors, electric, phone, and cable companies to see if any accommodations or payment arrangements can be made to make up for lost hours or pay shortages at work.
Worried about homelessness or evictions? Reach out to organizations dedicated to fighting homelessness and their plans to deal with the pandemic. Also, stay informed on if your city’s policies on halting evictions due to COVID-19.
What you can do to support mental health
Look into telehealth options for mental and physical care. Check your insurance to see if there is a telehealth service offered, contact your doctor to find out if they have an option for remote visits, or check out services like DoctorOnDemand, BetterHelp, or TalkSpace.
Find a new daily routine. Keep getting up early, making coffee, eating breakfast, getting ready for the day and choosing a space to work. Going about your day to day as regularly as you can will only do you and your family good.
Volunteer with animals. Dogs and cats appear to not be susceptible to the virus*, so if you are able to walk dogs at your local shelter or visit the cats, consider it. Animals can help reduce stress, and you might even end up with a new friend to take home.
*the virus may be able to survive on the animal if it has been touched by an infected individual, so know the risks here
Volunteer your time remotely to help others experiencing distress. You can take the training to become a Crisis Counselor with Crisis Text Line from home, and work to support those in crisis.