I think I speak for most people when I say that last week was terrifying. Somehow one week managed to stretch on forever, as if we were in January all over again. Each day, our phones were being blown up with bad news that sunk us deeper and deeper into the signature Millennial existential crisis.

But this week we’re going to turn things around! There are a lot of factors surrounding the coronavirus that we don’t have much control over, but we can control how much exposure we have to the virus, and whether or not we are ready for it if it comes our way. The absolute safest way to ensure that you have minimal exposure to the coronavirus is by reducing the number of public social interactions you have. By limiting how often you go outside and interact with people, you can drastically reduce your chances of contracting the virus. Some important things to remember are:

⁃ According to the World Health Organization (WHO), once contracted, it can take anywhere between 3-14 days for someone to start showing symptoms, then around 2 weeks for the virus to run its course.

⁃ According to the CDC, the virus is contracted from person to person through droplets of mucus that can escape when we cough, sneeze, or speak.

⁃ According to a research study done recently, the virus can survive in the air for up to 3 hours before dropping to the ground, up to 24 hours on most surfaces, and up to 2-3 days on metal surfaces.

So the less interactions we have with the outside world over all, the less likely we are to contract the virus. But I know that staying home from work means losing money and spending what you do have on supplies for the house. Self isolation can be expensive so it is important to budget for the time you will be home. To ease some of that stress, I’ve come up with a list of budget friendly things you can do to stay safe and prepared for anything in the coming months.

  1. Make Sure You Stock Up On The Basics 

    Although most stores are cleaned out by noon these days, you should still try to find supplies where you can. After several trips to various places, I figured out that hardware stores like Home Depot and Menards still had most things in stock, such as toilet paper, paper towels, off-brand cleaning supplies, and latex gloves. The hard to find items are hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and disinfecting sprays. But if you get up early and head to the store on shipment day you can usually catch them restocking the shelves just as the stores open, according to one amazing Target employee. During this time of crisis, it is important not to take more than you need, so I recommend stocking up on 30 days worth of supplies to start. While you’re out getting household supplies don’t forget about your health. Stock up on Vitamin C, cough drops, electrolytes, and vitamins, such as turmeric supplements (which are great for immune health). 

  2. FOOD

    Arguably the most expensive part of self isolation is figuring out how to feed yourself and your loved ones for 30 straight days. While I know it will be tempting to stock up on frozen foods and canned goods (and you still should), we have to remember that one of the best ways to boost our immune system to fight sickness is by consuming plenty of fluids, fresh fruits, vegetables, and protein. So I’ve come up with a cost effective way to feed your family on a budget. Stock up on fresh vegetables like carrots, yellow onion, and celery, or bell peppers, white onion, and mushrooms, then chop them up and freeze them in freezer safe plastic bags. When it’s time to eat, pair the former with chicken and chicken broth, and the latter with rice and your favorite protein. Do the same with plastic bags filled with blueberries and raspberries and have it as a frozen treat or add some honey to make a smoothie. 

    Pro Tip: instead of buying expensive teas, stock up on lemon, ginger root, and honey (no more than $10 for a month’s supply). Those three ingredients will brew a “super tea” that helps fight off cold symptoms and boost the immune system.

  3. DIY Hand Sanitizer 

    Hand sanitizer is so important to your health because we can’t always wash our hands on the go. Taking sanitizer with you when you are out in public is your best defense against contracting coronavirus. If you haven’t been able to find hand sanitizer in stores or online, then it may be time to consider just making your own. Most commercial sanitizers have a moisturizing element to help prevent your hands from drying out, but the truth is that all you really need to make an effective sanitizer is a solution with at least 60% Ethanol Alcohol and some vegetable glycerin. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Here’s the recipe: 
    1 cup of Ethanol Alcohol
     ¼ cup of Aloe Vera Gel (optional)
    3 tsp vegetable glycerin
    ½ tsp tea tree essential oil
    ½ tsp of lavender essential oil (optional) 
    Mix this solution and transfer it into a spray bottle, or do what I did and pour it into an airtight container full of paper towels to make sanitizing wipes. This way, you can use it at home for your hands or on surfaces.

  4. Activities/Entertainment 

    You don’t have to spend a lot of money to entertain yourself during your time at home. Use the things around your house as inspiration. Check out Pinterest and try a new life hack. Read some of your old books or watch an old DVD. If you like binging, host a live watch party with your friends and start a new show together. Insecure season 4 is coming up on April 12th, so now is a great time to catch up on the last 3 seasons. Another great way to pass the time is by starting a blog or youtube channel to showcase things you’re passionate about. Or take this time to start a new hobby like yoga or exercising, it is almost bikini season!

  5. Don’t Freak Out

    This is a scary time for everyone, but letting your depression/anxiety/etc take you to your darkest places will only make things worse. Carve out time to focus on your mental health. Everyone knows that being stuck at home can be awful, but do what you need to do to turn your home into a sanctuary, a place where you feel safe and at peace. Practice breathing exercises, work on an art project, call your favorite friends and family members. Do what you need to do to practice healthy coping mechanisms. 

    Remember, we are all in the same boat. We are all trying to balance everyday life, and still remain safe from contracting the coronavirus. If we all make the conscious decision to stay home during this time, we have a real chance at slowing the spread of the virus and protecting our communities. If you can, exercise your worker power. Your company does not run without you and your coworkers. Work together with your coworkers to stand in solidarity and stay home. And if you have to work, then please be safe. Wear latex gloves and sanitize/wash your hands often. If you take away nothing else, remember this: we are stronger together. If we all take the same measures to protect ourselves and our communities then we can drastically reduce the impact of the virus in this country.