Army Materiel Command health and resiliency professionals are encouraging the workforce to stay informed and maintain routines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These are challenging times and situations for many of you,” Gen. Gus Perna, AMC commander, said. “Now more than ever, we must be resilient. Rely on the resiliency training we have all taken, year after year. I encourage all to take time to focus on your physical, mental and spiritual well-being.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, COVID-19 illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and may appear 2-14 days after exposure.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, experts with the CDC say to avoid touching your face with unwashed hands. They recommend washing hands often for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, they suggest using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
In addition, Army Materiel Command’s Command Surgeon Col. Matthew Hoefer suggests regularly exercising, catching up on sleep and eating healthy choices. Out of those, he said exercise is the most important. He recommends 20 minutes of vigorous exercise each day.
“You can take the time saved from commuting to exercise,” he said. “Exercise accelerates our immune system and is good for our mood. It also has long-term effects that will make you less susceptible to diseases in the future.”
Hoefer recommends getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night. He suggests keeping a regular schedule, waking up and going to bed around the same time every day. Taking 15 to 20 minutes to nap during the day can also help.
“It’s easy to become a homebody, but if you maintain a regular schedule, your body is going to respond better,” he said.
To eat healthy, he suggests using the Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate model. The MyPlate plan suggests dividing your plate into four sections with fruits and vegetables taking up half the plate, meat taking up a quarter of the plate and starches taking up the final quarter of the plate. Hoefer also said foods like grainy cereals, fruits and vegetables make good snacks.
“Every two to three hours, have a snack to keep your appetite in check,” he said.
CDC experts also say to stay home as much as possible and put distance between yourself and other people. Army Materiel Command has approved maximized workforce flexibilities (www.army.mil/article/234093/amc_offers_best_practices_for_those_teleworking) to prevent the spread of the virus. Hoefer said it is still important for those who are sick to stay home.
“If you can telework, even some days of the week, that’s better,” Hoefer said. “Absolutely don’t come to work if you feel bad because the risk is too great.”
Something else to keep in mind during this time is anxiety and stress. Valerie Francis, AMC’s Health Promotion program manager, said to stay informed without being overwhelmed with COVID-19 information.
“Do not panic; focus on the facts,” she said. “Do your own research from credible organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
She said resilience trainers across the AMC enterprise are collaborating to develop resilience messages for the workforce, and she suggests trying to focus on the positive things in life during these times of uncertainty.
“The resilience messages will help individuals focus less on the negative and more on the positive aspects of the crisis – strangers helping one another, more time with family and a resurgence of the American ‘can do’ spirit,” she said. “Those positive acts can increase optimism which gives us hope that our current situation is just temporary and normalcy will return.”
She said focus on what you can control. The mindset can empower one to take purposeful action and prevent feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
“Cherish time with family and create new, happy memories,” Francis said. “If teleworking, be thankful you have the option and call a colleague that is having to work in the office. Your gesture may brighten their day.”
While taking in new updates and navigating through this unprecedented time, Hoefer said it is important to reset your work-life balance to make sure you don’t lose focus on either one. He also reminds our workforce to take a few extra steps to look after each other.
“We still work with the same people even though we’re teleworking,” he said. “Dig through your old contacts and reach out to those you haven’t talked to in a week and ask if they need anything and ask how their life is going.”