After two years, multiple variants and millions of tired people, it can be hard to find comforting words to someone who tested positive with COVID-19. There are negative responses. Some don’t say anything while others say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” or “at least it’s not cancer.” These types of responses are unhelpful and harmful.
Many of us probably know from personal experiences how a little extra love and support can go a long way in challenging times. Laughter is a way to take their mind off the situation and has health benefits such as boosting the immune system, relaxing the whole body, and relieving stress.
Tia Newcomer, CEO of CaringBridge, a nonprofit network dedicated to ensuring no one goes through a health journey alone, shares five tips on what to say to someone newly diagnosed with COVID to show you care:
Ask how they’re feeling. Make their health the focus of your conversation. Resist the natural urge to ask immediately whether you’ve been exposed or how they may have gotten it. Save those questions for later.
Offer ways for them to feel better, such as keeping up with drinking water, making sure to get enough rest and eating food, even if it is just crackers.
Check in regularly to see how they’re doing. If you’ve also gone through COVID, you might mention something that helped you feel better, from a type of tea that tasted good to a favorite binge-watch show. Consistently checking in is a positive reminder of support, it can provide a person with strength.
Offer ideas of how you could give support. Instead of asking non-specifically, “How can I help?,” consider making a concrete offer like, “May I drop off dinner tonight or tomorrow?” Or, “Is it OK if I stop by at 2 o’clock to walk your dog?”
Being specific and direct takes the stress away from the decision-making process. It allows them to simply say, “yes” or provide a time that would be better.
Provide them with interaction. To break up the monotony of quarantine, ask if the person is up to a quick video call. This could also offer a welcome distraction for kids who might be feeling cooped up. Grab a book to read aloud, do a singalong if that’s your thing, or even prop up your camera-phone in the kitchen, and make cookies together virtually.
Video calls allow for face-to-face interaction that can be lacking when in isolation. The simple act of a call can be the highlight of their day, it gives them something to look forward while making them feel connected.
These tips are just a few ways to help, and research shows that social support matters in times of need. Your efforts may make their day—and their gratitude for your support may make yours.
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