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Tips, Tricks & Essentials for Your Household During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tips, Tricks & Essentials for Your Household During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Jamie Greyson and Rachel Ross
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Photo Courtesy: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg/Getty Images

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, finding the time to get kitchen supplies and taking care of your mental health can be more than challenging, but, amid everything, it's essential that you do so.

We’ve been social distancing and quarantining at home since March, doing embarrassing things and finding ways to keep calm. We hope you’ve got the hang of this weird situation already, but if you haven’t, that’s okay. There are some must-haves you'll want to help you get through today’s struggles (beyond eating all your quarantine snacks and regretting your home haircut).

Real talk: Here are tips, tricks and essentials that will help you feel a little less stressed, a little more informed — and a lot more prepared to manage daily life in the COVID-19 era.

Stay Hydrated, Not Thirsty, With a Hands-Free Water Bag

Fluids are a great way to nourish your body and prevent dehydration. Plus, water is great for flushing toxins out of your system. The only problem? Keeping track of your intake while you’re distracted by scrolling through social media, working or binge-watching a show all day.

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Photo Courtesy: Joybuy

That’s why we suggest this handy Hydration Bladder, a leakproof 2-liter water reservoir that’ll keep you sipping. Whether you’re in bed or hiking your favorite trail, the high-flow bite-valve — just bite down on the mouthpiece and sip — makes using it hands-free, the new big theme of the year.

Don’t Share Personal Items

Before the outbreak, we were all guilty of sharing everyday items like beverages, ChapStick and hand towels with friends and family. Some of us were also guilty of hoarding toilet paper and disinfectants at the beginning of the outbreak, but that’s another story.

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Photo Courtesy: Home Depot; Dirk Waem/Belga Mag/AFP/Getty Images

Remind your kids that while "sharing is caring," they should avoid doing so during the pandemic. While bathroom and kitchen hand towels are a great way to go green, you might want to try out these Seventh Generation Paper Towels to stop the spread of germs, especially if someone in your household is sick. Bonus: These two-ply, 100% recycled, dye- and fragrance-free paper towels are as green as disposable gets.

Effective Hand Sanitizer That Meets CDC Guidelines

If you haven’t already stocked up on hand sanitizer, you may be screaming in frustration (internally) when you find it sold out everywhere. Ohio-based Gojo Industries, the makers of Purell, told Today that they have "dramatically increased production" in response to growing concerns over the virus, but Purell products are out of stock consistently, even online.

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Photo Courtesy: Amazon

Before adding any hand sanitizer to your cart, peep the alcohol content. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to kill the coronavirus. Thankfully, many retailers are stepping up and making their own hand sanitizers to meet the demand, including beauty brand PURA D’OR. This lemongrass-scented set contains 70% alcohol and aloe vera to keep your skin feeling smooth like butter. So there’s no need to run around in a panic with dry hands ever again.

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Review Your Sick Leave & Insurance Policies

As COVID-19 continues to present a worldwide threat, we recommend looking into your healthcare options ahead of time to avoid a $1.1 million hospital bill. Oddly specific, but it has happened before. Brush up on your employer’s paid sick leave and sick-time policies. If your job allows you to work from home, we say do it, especially amid the shelter-in-place orders many local governments have enacted.

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Photo Courtesy: AMC/Netflix

If your employer shuts down or reduces your hours due to the pandemic, see if your state allows you to file a temporary Unemployment Insurance claim. If you’re okay financially, see if you can support workers who live paycheck-to-paycheck by contributing to GoFundMe campaigns, buying memberships to your local nonprofit theater or snatching up gift cards to your favorite neighborhood eateries.

Electrolyte Supplements (in Moderation)

Gatorade commercials are very convincing, often encouraging people to buy these drinks to avoid dehydration, replace electrolytes and become pro athletes. Maybe in our dreams. Texas A&M professor John D. Bowman, MS Pharm, told Vital Record, "The basic deficiency in [these] beverages...for illness-related dehydration is that there is too much sugar and not enough salt (sodium) or potassium."

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Photo Courtesy: @pedialyte/Instagram

In addition to drinking clear liquids, David B. Banach, head of infection prevention and a hospital epidemiologist at the University of Connecticut, suggests trying an electrolyte solution like Pedialyte. We know what you’re thinking: Isn’t Pedialyte for babies? Yes, but it’s also for grown-ups and has successfully won the hearts of health experts and public figures. Sayonara, Gatorade.

When You Should Wear Disposable Gloves

When in doubt, buy those disposable gloves. If someone in your household is under the weather, products like Powder-Free Nitrile Gloves allow you to clean items they’ve used, worry-free.

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Photo Courtesy: Cartoon Network/IMDb; Ace Hardware

Used by medical professionals and first responders alike, these highly durable gloves promise not to impede your dexterity. Better yet, these synthetic gloves are perfect for those who are sensitive or allergic to natural rubber latex. We even recommend tossing a few in your family’s first-aid kit.

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An At-Home Workspace With the Fewest Distractions

Some folks have jobs that have allowed them to work from home, which is a great solution for avoiding a germ-filled office. However, you've probably realized that there are distractions everywhere, from the comfy bed calling your name to your cat lying down on your laptop. Even worse, many remote workers find it difficult to separate work from their personal lives — after all, they’re literally taking their work home.

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Photo Courtesy: HBO/HBOGo

If you’ve found yourself in the procrastination hole, try designating a particular area as your workspace — think a desk or kitchen table. Avoid wearing "comfy clothes" or working under the covers. Not only can this take a toll on productivity, but it could also cause you to blur the lines between working hours and time off, which is never good for your mental health. To get down to business and work from home effectively, check out this helpful article.

Non-Perishable Food Is Always a Good Idea

Remember when people around the country began stockpiling food in preparation for quarantine? That was a complete trainwreck. However, we now know that you don’t need a basement or a bunker to be sufficiently prepared. If you’ve been exposed to a COVID-19 carrier, you must self-quarantine for 14 days — meaning you just need enough goods to last you two weeks.

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Photo Courtesy: NBCUniversal/IMDb; Amazon

If you’ve been stocking up on baking supplies, you’re not alone. We have additional go-tos you’ll find useful, from beans, tomatoes, pre-made soups and tuna to other canned goods. Tired of the can opener? Well, since it’s not a blackout period, frozen veggies, which contain just as many nutrients as fresh ones, are a great option. When it comes to snacks, grab high-protein items like nuts, peanut butter and Perky Jerky’s Original Turkey Jerky as well as relatively salt-free goods like McCann’s Irish Steel-cut Oatmeal and dried fruit.

Wear Face Masks to Protect Everyone, Including Yourself

Wearing a face mask has been the public standard since the beginning of the pandemic. And we all need to keep doing our part in the group project to get through this. According to the CDC, "Cloth face coverings may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. Wearing a cloth face covering will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people."

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Photo Courtesy: Irina Velichkina/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

That said, if you’re in public, grab some Meridian Point Face Masks to limit the spread of the virus. There is a thicker, specialized face mask known as the N95 respirator, but while it can protect against COVID-19, experts don’t recommend it because it requires specialized training to use properly.

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Creating a Designated “Sick Room”

This one might seem a tad archaic, at least in name. However, if you’re fortunate enough to have a little extra space at home, designating one bedroom as the "sick room" can be a beneficial practice.

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Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

To contain the COVID-19 spread, especially if someone in your household is self-isolating, it’s best to limit your facetime with them. (Even during a more precautionary self-quarantine, we’d recommend erring on the side of caution.) Although that’s easier said than done when said patient is roommate or family member, minimizing your shared items — blankets, bedding and pillows — can do wonders.

Hand Soap Is Still Essential

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, stores keep selling out of cleaning and sanitation products left and right. Like other viruses, COVID-19 is spread through droplets. If a carrier coughs or sneezes, virus-containing particles can travel through the air, up to 3 feet in distance. (Though experts recommend keeping 6 feet between yourself and others.)

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Photo Courtesy: Amazon

These particles can also land on surfaces you come into contact with, so it’s important to scrub your hands frequently for at least 30 seconds at a time. Since you’re protecting yourself from a virus, antibacterial soaps have no added benefit. We recommend the cruelty- and paraben-free Mrs. Meyer´s Clean Day Hand Soap, which comes in refreshing lavender and geranium scents. Bonus: It doesn’t dry out your skin as much as competitors’ hand soaps. Cracked skin, be gone!

A Plant Baby and a Friend

Greenery can do wonders for your mental health, as can the smell of fresh-cut flowers. While flora may seem like a silly pandemic purchase, we believe it’s important to make your home as comfortable as possible — especially when you’re spending much more time there. Sometimes, a little mind over matter goes a long way.

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Photo Courtesy: Amazon

If you aren’t feeling well enough to venture out to your local garden shop, simple, delivered-to-your-doorstep succulent plants can provide a quick fix. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, having a bit of nature on your bookshelf can improve your mood, especially when you’re practicing social distancing.

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Keep Avoiding Large Gatherings

If anything, the COVID-19 outbreak has shone a light on how quickly viruses can spread, especially new strains with no pre-existing protections. After international incidents in China and Italy proved close contact was spreading the virus at a rapid rate, cities across the U.S., from San Francisco to Boston, took action.

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Photo Courtesy: Seb Daly/Sportsfile/Getty Images

Both the NBA and NCAA canceled their seasons. Broadway went dark. Even Disneyland closed for only the fourth time in its 65 years of operation. It’s tempting to go out and hang in groups, but don’t let your efforts go to waste. By practicing social distancing, you can help protect at-risk and immunocompromised groups — and ensure that our medical care facilities don’t get overwhelmed. If you do hang out with friends in person, do so responsibly. Stay at least 6 feet apart and wear masks.

A Hot Water Bottle for Temperature Control

Sure, a hot water bottle may seem like something from the past, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This tried-and-true method for relieving aches, pains and sore muscles can also come in handy if you’re dealing with COVID-19 symptoms.

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Photo Courtesy: BrandsMart U.S.A.; LaylaBird/E+/Getty Images

That’s right — if you have an upset stomach, a hot compress like this Traditional Hot Water Bottle can do wonders. According to The Guardian, which spoke with Brian King, a senior lecturer in physiology at the University College London, "The heat doesn’t just provide comfort and have a placebo effect — it actually deactivates pain at a molecular level."

If you’re just suffering from a hot summer while indoors, fill your water bottle and pop it in the freezer. It’ll help you beat the heat during the quarantine. If you’re trying to find other ways to stay as cool as a cucumber, take a look at these amazing cooling products.

Cleaning Products for Stocking Those Cabinets

If you’ve ever seen Nia Vardalos’ 2002 classic My Big Fat Greek Wedding, then you know that Windex is more than just a cleaning spray — it’s the stuff of miracles. On a serious note, having cleaning products handy during the pandemic can help you maintain a disinfected, germ-free home.

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Photo Courtesy: Lowes; IFC Films/IMDb

A recent run on Clorox products, thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak, has many people wondering where to turn next. We recommend this Windex Glass and Multi-Surface Cleaner. After a long day out in the world, be sure to wipe off doorknobs, faucet handles, remotes and your other frequently used handhelds.

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A Water Bottle With a Straw

If a hydration bladder isn’t quite your speed, a water bottle can be a great way to keep track of how often you’re hydrating. The virus can leave you feeling rundown and dehydrated — so much so that even the thought of sitting up in bed feels daunting.

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Photo Courtesy: CamelBak

Enter the CamelBak Eddy Water Bottle. Plastic-free, leak-free, spill-proof and dishwasher-safe, this water bottle features a redesigned bite valve on the tip of the straw — just chomp down and sip. It’s hydration made easy, even when you’re devoid of energy.

Games, Games & More Games

While you and your household are practicing social distancing, it’s important to take care of your mental health as well. To stop your house from going stir crazy, break up all those Netflix marathons with some good ol’ fashioned fun.

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Photo Courtesy: Target; Nintendo

From Clue and Pictionary to Scrabble and Go Fish, board and card games offer a wonderful way to break up the monotony. If you’re looking for an action-packed game to play with the whole gang, Exploding Kittens may be the answer. Searching for high-tech fun? Nothing beats Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch.

A Humidifier to Make the Great Indoors More Comfortable

Being cooped up inside can lead to nasty sore throats and dry noses. To combat this, try using a humidifier, especially one like the Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier, which, as the name implies, produces a calming mist.

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Photo Courtesy: Home Depot

Quiet and easy-to-clean, this 1-gallon humidifier runs for up to 70 hours without a refill, so feel free to run it day and night. Bonus: This model includes an "aromatherapy tray," so you can fill it with your favorite essential oil for a soothing, fragranced mist. There’s nothing like the art of self-care to turn a bad day into a spa day.

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All Ginger Everything

If you’re prone to motion sickness or travel sickness, you may already be well aware of the wonders of ginger. If you aren’t, it’s time to get acquainted. Ginger is known for settling the stomach, and while it may not completely prevent COVID-19-related nausea, it can at least help you feel well enough to keep some liquids and plain food down.

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Photo Courtesy: Amazon

Although snacks like ginger snaps will do the trick, it’s best to avoid excess sugar while you’re under the weather. A popular choice for those who are down-and-out with an upset stomach is Canada Dry Ginger Ale, but if you’re worried about sugar adding to your discomfort, try out Traditional Medicinals Organic Ginger Herbal Tea instead.

An Electric Kettle to Make Quick and Easy Hot Drinks

If you’re living alone (or up at odd hours), one of the worst parts of being sick is actually making the items you need to feel better. When your energy is at its lowest, even making a cup of tea can seem oh-so-draining. And, of course, a watched pot — er, tea kettle — never boils.

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Photo Courtesy: Amazon

For that reason, you should pick up the incredible Fellow Stagg EKG Kettle, which allows you to heat up water in seconds — stovetop-free. Modern and minimal, this kettle is a must-have kitchen gadget. Better yet, the fluted precision spout also helps you make the perfect pour-over coffee.

A Sleep Mask & Earplugs to Rest Like Sleeping Beauty or Snorlax

Day or night, COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate. At a moment’s notice, you might just find yourself itching for some shut-eye. Unfortunately, sometimes all the blackout curtains and soothing candles in the world can’t quite get you to Snoozeville.

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Photo Courtesy: Amazon; Paramount Pictures/IMDb

Even for non-illness-related naps, the MZOO Sleep Eye Mask is a must-have item. This particular concave blindfold is shaped to fit snugly around your nose without leaving those pesky spaces for light to peek through. This particular tried-and-true mask even comes with some high-quality earplugs, ensuring a good night’s — or day’s — sleep.

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A Pressure Cooker for Easy Eats

Just like making tea, fixing yourself something to eat when you’re sick or exhausted can be a real burden. If you’re coming down with something or had a busy day, you simply won’t have the energy or patience to stand upright in your kitchen for long periods of time. That’s why everyone should have a pressure cooker in their kitchen cupboard.

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Photo Courtesy: Amazon

The Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker can be a real game-changer for making soup. Toss in some pre-cut veggies, heaps of chicken and some broth and you’ve got an instant chicken soup that’s way healthier — and way less salty — than a canned soup. When you have the time and energy to cook more creative dishes, you can follow tutorials on YouTube for step-by-step instructions on how to use your Instant Pot.

A Multi-Functional Space Heater

Drafty bedroom? No problem. The Hot + Cool Jet Focus AM09 Fan Heater from Dyson has your back. In the winter, this little beauty will heat your whole room in a matter of minutes. In the summer, the noiseless machine will keep you cool.

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Photo Courtesy: Amazon

Needless to say, it’s a wonderful multi-purpose investment. The heater doesn’t have any exposed heating elements or fast-spinning fan blades, so you don’t have to worry about kids, pets or adults with sick-brain getting injured. Whether you’re chilled to the bone or experiencing hot flashes, the Dyson AM09 will be your best friend.

Scented Candles to Help You Chill Out

We could all use a little more "me" time because it’s easy to get stressed these days. Like investing in plants, stocking up on candles during the pandemic may be far from your mind. However, just like that greenery, a relaxing scent can do wonders for your mental health and help you feel more well-rested.

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Photo Courtesy: Amazon

There are plenty of great candle options out there, but for maximum relaxation, try out the DecoCandleS Urban Concepts Tranquility, which comes in a variety of scents, such as the ever-cozy Mélange of Spices & Evergreen or the tranquil Lemongrass & Wild Basil.

Interested in trying some aromatherapy that mixes essential oils and candles? The Chesapeake Bay Scented Candles and diffusers are a great place to start. If you’re looking for a candle to light a couple of hours before bedtime, we suggest lavender candles to carry away stress and transport you to a field of herbaceousness (or maybe that’s just us daydreaming).

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Take a Break From the News & Reach Out to Your Doctor (Not WebMD)

Nothing can send someone into a panic spiral faster than WebMD, which, for all its benefits, can cause us to believe we have a deadly disease after looking up one symptom. If the COVID-19 outbreak has taught us anything, it’s that it is best to remain cautious and vigilant — yet calm. Panicking doesn’t help anyone and can take a serious toll on your health.

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Photo Courtesy: ABC/IMDb

Take a break from the 24/7 news cycle that fills our homepages and social media accounts. Instead of reading article after article for answers, reach out to your primary care physician or healthcare provider to gain peace of mind. These are challenging times, but do your best to be prepared, safe and aware and to make time for self-care.