How crazy is it that we're just days away from Thanksgiving? How even crazier is it that, at least most of us, are trying to figure out how to make this holiday happen when we're still—still, y'all—in the middle of a pandemic? Because let's be real. While when it comes to protecting our overall health and well-being, it would probably be best to sit this year out, since we've already made so many sacrifices, especially socially in 2020, I get that some of you may want to semi throw caution to the wind and share a meal with some of your loved ones anyway.
And that's just what we're gonna tackle today. If you're sick and tired of COVID-19 totally running your life and so you're gonna make Thanksgiving happen, one way or another, here are some things that can significantly decrease your chances of you or your people getting sick as a direct result.
1. Grocery Shop Carefully
Before we get into how to carefully handle the people who will be in your house, let's first get into the main reason they're coming over (other than to see you, of course)—the food! The last thing you want to do is have an awesome day with everyone, only for them to fall ill a few days later. So, have a clear shopping list (the less time that you're in the store, the better). Also, make sure that you try and go grocery shopping during a time when there is less "people traffic" (definitely not a couple of days before Thanksgiving or during the times when most people are off work). Always wear a mask and sanitize the handle of your grocery cart. Fresh produce vs. frozen or canned goods isn't that much of an issue (as far as which is safer when it comes to avoiding COVID-19); however, do make sure that when you get home that you wipe off cans, that you thoroughly rinse your produce and that the foods that needs to be refrigerated are put into a fridge that is set at 40 degrees (your freezer needs to be zero degrees) Fahrenheit. Doing this will decrease the chances of foodborne pathogens developing.
2. Prep Your Home
While you're cooking, clean all surfaces constantly (with soap and water; then follow that up with a disinfectant). Contamination can spread quicker than you might think, so wiping down counters and swapping out dishrags for different things (like using one for dishes and another for cleaning your stove) that you're preparing is important. Oh, and also be intentional about cleaning anything that folks will be touching a lot including door handles, tables, faucets, and light switches. While you won't have time to follow up behind everyone the entire time, wiping these things down right before company arrives, once during their visit, and again after everyone leaves is a good practice.
So that air can be well-ventilated throughout your house, crack open a few windows. You also might want to turn on a humidifier in the space where most people will be hanging out. Aside from the fact that indoor air pollution is automatically 3-5 times worse than anything that's happening outside, dry and poorly ventilated areas also make it easier for germs to spread. I actually read that using a humidifier in the wintertime can lower your risk of getting COVID-19. The more you know, chile.
3. Avoid Potlucking
Here's the thing about potluck. While, on one hand, it takes the burden off of you having to cook as much, the flip side is you don't always know if other people are as semi-OCD as you are when it comes to cleanliness. While this is great food for thought, no matter what, it's especially important to keep this in mind during this pandemic. So, unless you are absolutely at peace with someone bringing a homemade dish, request that your guests bring pre-packaged items like drinks, paper products—stuff like that.
Also, you might want to avoid going the takeout route this Thanksgiving as well. Although I actually wrote an article for the platform earlier this year entitled, "10 Safety Practices For Ordering Takeout (During A Pandemic)", restaurants tend to be slammed during the holiday season, and while it would be wonderful if they were all as cautious as we are with following COVID-19 cleaning protocols, assuming that they are is a risk that you might not wanna take. Because, after all, the only person you can ever truly be sure about is yourself. Right?
4. Go the Paper Products Route
As far as serving your meal to your guests, while properly washing (or dishwashing) dishes and utensils typically knocks out most germs, take extra precaution this year and consider going the paper and plastic products route. That way, people can throw away their plates, forks and cups once they are done. As a bonus, you won't have to do as much clean-up once everyone is gone.
If that is way too "low-end" for you, just make sure that you clean and disinfect every item that you and your guests use. By the way, running your pans, dishes and utensils through a dishwasher is considered to be the most effective for getting rid of germs while letting everything air dry is a fair follow-up alternative. Whatever you do, just make sure to avoid using the same towel for drying everything. Out of all of the drying options, that one basically sucks at preventing germs from spreading.
5. Cut the “Body Count” Down
One of the reasons why a lot of kids continually get sick in daycares is because there are so many of them in a tight space. Five children in a big room is very different than 20 in a smaller one. This line of thinking brings us to my next point. If you have a small gathering of 5-7 people (especially if you live in an apartment or a smaller house), that makes it so much easier for everyone to socially distance than if you've got a houseful. Listen, already opting to host Thanksgiving, in your home, during a pandemic, is a pretty bold feat. Don't you dare feel bad or guilty that you can't invite as many folks as usual. You've still gotta go to work on Monday. The lower your body count is, the better—for all parties involved.
6. Avoid Folks Who Haven’t Been “Acting Right”
I can count on one hand, the amount of people who've been in my home ever (chalk it up to the ambivert in me). Anyway, there is one person, in particular, I had to "put on punishment" because when I tell you that they are out here in these streets, like there isn't a pandemic happening, right at this very moment? Whew. My point? People who aren't wearing masks. Folks who haven't been social distancing. Anyone who even hints at having a fever or cold symptoms. Someone who has recently traveled and hasn't quarantined at all. These are the kinds of people who should skip out on Thanksgiving at your house this year. One workaround is to have them check in on Zoom, Skype or Google Hangout. While it won't be exactly the same, it's safer which ultimately makes it all good.
7. Establish a Strong Hygiene Protocol
Once people step into your house, consider having them take their shoes off and leaving them at the door (so that germs aren't tracked throughout your home). Have some hand sanitizer waiting at the door and/or ask them to wash their hands before actually getting comfortable. When it comes to sneezing and coughing, a minimal amount of that is natural, even when someone is well. That said, make sure that there are tissues on tap and maybe even cough drops or warm tea and honey so that your guests' coughing reflex can be calmed down; the less sneezing and coughing, the less particles of spit that ends up flying around. If there are kids who are coming, make sure that someone sees that they wash their hands before leaving the bathroom, and definitely have no problem with encouraging social distancing, especially if you are hosting indoors.
8. Consider Having Thanksgiving Outdoors
In many cases across the country, global warming has been showing all the way out. A silver lining in this is it's been proven that being around people outdoors (when you're social distancing, of course) is exponentially safer than when you're spending time with them while being inside of a space. So, if the weather permits, why not host Thanksgiving outdoors? Put a picnic table in your backyard (if you've got a backyard) and spread the seats apart. If you like this idea but you're worried that it will be way too cold come the end of November, you can always move Thanksgiving up a bit. Hey, nothing about this year has been conventional. I don't think folks will trip too much about having Thanksgiving dinner with you a week early and then being able to chill at their home on actual Thanksgiving Day.
9. Limit the Time Spent
Here's the thing about COVID-19—the longer that you spend time around an infected individual, the more you significantly increase your chances of them transmitting the virus onto you. According to the CDC, if you spend more than 15 minutes, in close proximity to someone who has COVID-19, you significantly increase your chances of them passing the virus on to you.
Look, we all know that none of us are interested in doing a drive-by Thanksgiving. However, this is a good enough reason to again implement social distancing and not having folks at your crib from noon until midnight.
10. If You’re Flying, Follow CDC Guidelines
So, what if you're not the one who is hosting Thanksgiving but instead, you're traveling to be with relatives or friends this year? Definitely keep your immune system up in the days leading up to your fly-out date (check out "Ready To Try 10 Quick & Easy Immune-Boosting Hacks?" and "10 All-Natural Ways To Avoid Catching A Cold"). If you want to take a test before you leave, many Walgreens and CVS stores offer the service (although it's not the cheapest; CVS is around $140, I believe). Be sure to wear a mask at the airport as well as during the flight. Don't forget to have some hand sanitizer (one that contains around 60 percent alcohol) on tap. While traveling, try and socially distance (remain two arm lengths apart) as much as you can, that you avoid touching others and that you keep your hands off of your eyes, nose, and mouth. (For more info on CDC travel guidelines, click here.)
Oh, if you decide to take a road trip instead, have some disinfecting wipes so that you can wipe down any ATMs or gas pumps that you may come into contact with.
And finally, if you feel, even a little bit under the weather, within 48 hours before traveling, strongly consider not going. Again, it's always better to be safe than sorry.
I know this all might be a bit "much" compared to years past. Yet I'm confident that if you stick to these 10 tips, you can have a pretty normal Thanksgiving. And after all that 2020 brought our way…"normal" is outstanding.
Featured image by Shutterstock
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This post is in partnership with Amgen.
The seemingly simple task of taking a breath is something most of us don’t think twice about. But for people who live with severe asthma, breathing does not always come easily. Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs, affects millions of people worldwide – 5-10% of which live with severe asthma. Severe asthma is a chronic and lifelong condition that is unpredictable and can be difficult to manage. Though often invisible to the rest of the world, severe asthma is a not-so-silent companion for those who live with it, often interrupting schedules and impacting day-to-day life.
Among the many individuals who battle severe asthma, Black women face a unique set of challenges. It's not uncommon for us to go years without a proper diagnosis, and finding the right treatment often requires some trial and error. Thankfully, all hope is not lost for those who may be fighting to get their severe asthma under control. We spoke with Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq. and Jania Watson, two inspiring Black women who have been living with severe asthma and have found strength, resilience, and a sense of purpose in their journeys.
Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq.
Juanita Ingram has a resume that would make anyone’s jaw drop. On top of being recently crowned Mrs. Universe, she’s also an accomplished attorney, filmmaker, and philanthropist. From the outside, it seems there’s nothing this talented woman won’t try, and likely succeed at. In her everyday life, however, Juanita exercises a lot more caution. From a young age, Juanita has struggled with severe asthma. Her symptoms were always exacerbated by common illnesses like a cold or flu. “I've heard these stories of my breathing struggles, but I remember distinctly when I was younger not being able to breathe every time I got a virus,” says Ingram. “I remember missing a lot of school and crying a lot because asthma is painful. I [was taken] to see my doctor often if I got sick with anything so I was hypervigilant as a child, and I still am.”
Today, Juanita says her symptoms are best managed when she’s working closely with her care team, avoiding getting sick and staying ahead of any symptoms. Ingram said she’s been blessed with skilled doctors who are just as vigilant of her symptoms as she is. While competing in the Mrs. Universe competition, Juanita took extra care to stay clear of other competitors to ensure she didn’t catch a cold or virus that would trigger her severe asthma. “I would stand off to the side and sometimes that could be taken as ‘oh, she thinks she's better than everybody else.’ But if I get sick during a pageant, I'm done. I had to compete with that in mind because my sickness doesn't look like everybody else's sickness.”
Even when her symptoms are under control, living with severe asthma still presents challenges. Juanita relies on her strong support system to overcome the hurdles caused by a lack of understanding from the public, “I think that there's a lot of lack of awareness about how serious severe asthma is. I would [also] tell women to advocate and to trust their intuition and not to allow someone to dismiss what you're experiencing.”
Jania, a content creator from Atlanta, Georgia, has been living with severe asthma for many years. Thanks to early testing by asthma specialists, Jania was diagnosed with severe asthma as a child after experiencing frequent flare-ups and challenges in her day-to-day life. “I specifically remember, I was starting school, and we were moving into a new house. One of the triggers for me and my younger sister at the time were certain types of carpets. We had just moved into this new house and within weeks of us being there, my parents literally had to pay for all new carpet in the house.”
As Jania grew older, she was suffering from fewer flare-ups and thought her asthma was well under control. However, a trip back to her doctor during high school revealed that her severe asthma was affecting her more than she realized. “That was the first time in a long time I had to do a breathing test,” she describes. “The doctor had me take a deep breath in and blow into a machine to test my breathing. They told me to blow as hard as I could. And I was doing it. I was giving everything I got. [My dad and the doctor] were looking at me like ‘girl, stop playing.’ And at that point [it confirmed] I still have severe asthma because I've given it all I got. It doesn't really go away, but I just learned how to help manage it better.”
Jania recognizes that people who aren’t living with asthma, may not understand the disease and mistake it for something less serious. Or there could be others who think their symptoms are minor, and not worth bringing up. So, for Jania, communicating with others about her diagnosis is key. “Having severe asthma [flare-ups] in some cases looks very similar to being out of shape,” she said. “But this is a chronic illness that I was born with. This is just something that I live with that I've been dealing with. And I think it's important for people to know because that determines the next steps. [They might ask] ‘Do you need a bottle of water, or do you need an inhaler? Do you need to take a break, or do we need to take you to the hospital?’ So, I think letting the people around you know what's going on, just in case anything were to happen plays a lot into it as well.”
Like Juanita, Jania’s journey has been marked by ups and downs, but she remains an unwavering advocate for asthma awareness and support within the Black community. She hopes that her story can be an inspiration to other women with asthma who may not yet have their symptoms under control. “There's still life to be lived outside of having severe asthma. It is always going to be there, but it's not meant to stop you from living your life. That’s why learning how to manage it and also having that support system around you, is so important.”
By sharing their journeys, Juanita and Jania hope to encourage others to embrace their conditions, obtain a proper management plan from a doctor or asthma specialist like a pulmonologist or allergist, and contribute to the improvement of asthma awareness and support, not only within the Black community, but for all individuals living with severe asthma.
Read more stories from others like Juanita and Jania on Amgen.com, or visit Uncontrolled Asthma In Black Women | BREAK THE CYCLE to find support and resources.
The Black girls are tired of the monthly expenses costing more than our car payments. In one month, I easily find myself spending hundreds if not thousands between ordering groceries, hair appointments, lashes, nail salon appointments, etc. I'll be honest and say at first, I didn't notice because while I'm not rich, I'm also not exactly struggling.
Still, last year, I began to look closer at my finances and discovered feeling like "that girl" was costing me way too much. And while I love looking and feeling put together, is spending all my money on maintenance the most financially responsible thing to do?
There's been an outpour of Black women on social media declaring that the monthly expenses we rack up in the name of maintenance are not only unnecessary but unsustainable. 2023 was my year of ease, and while I will continue to prioritize myself and my needs, I want to be intentional about what I spend my money on and become the DIY girlie that my future self will thank me for.
I be at my appointments with a straight face ain’t shit funny 😭😭 https://t.co/jBgrkgEkYX— ⭐️ (@Foreign_Star_) November 4, 2023
1. Eyelash Extensions
Last week, I attended a banquet for my grandfather's 80th birthday, and my 13-year-old cousin walked in with the most beautiful lashes. I asked her who she went to, and she told me she learned on YouTube! We have no excuse if the children are learning how to apply their lashes. She's coming over next week to teach me, and I will have some sparkling cider and pizza waiting for her so we can catch up on everything going on in her world.
2. Unnecessary Hair Appointments
Hair care is essential to me, and every week, after a swim, you'll find me in the sauna deep conditioning and loving on my tresses. But I went through this phase where I was changing my hair up every month, sometimes twice a month, because I found myself in a funk. I can't deny that changing my hair brings me joy, but it doesn't need to break the bank. Daily, I scroll through social media and see Black girls do the same hairstyles at home that I pay for, so aside from necessary hair appointments - the hair salons are now on a needed-visit basis.
3. Nail Appointments
This one might upset the girls, and I get that, but hear me out - I work from home, and one day, I had to ask myself, "Girl, who is seeing your nails that cost $120 per appointment on Zoom?!" The answer was absolutely no one. In tandem with that, I've found myself loving the press-ons that I come across, and I have been putting them into my rotation. Am I breaking up with my nail artist? Absolutely not. That's my girl, but she won't see me as much this year.
4. Make-up Appointments
I've been promising myself that I'd learn how to do my own makeup for years, and I'm now in my thirties, calling my makeup artist for every event, whether it's a girl's night or a concert. While I love a beat face, if our girl Jackie Aina, the queen of soft living, still does her makeup, what's my excuse not to start learning?
5. Ordering Groceries
There is a time and a place for this one. Now, if I'm in meeting after meeting, my food is running low, and time isn't on my side, I'll 100% order groceries to save myself additional stress. But I cannot tell you how many times this year I've driven past the grocery store, went home, and ordered groceries only to have to go the next day because items are missing. This year, I'm intentionally scheduling my grocery shopping around my errands and using that money I save on delivery and mindless shopping for my next girls' night out.
6. A New Outfit For Every Event
Raise your hand if you have a closet full of clothes but still feel like you need a new outfit for every event; now that your hand is raised...ask yourself why you are like this. I say this with love because I've had these same discussions with myself, and we are shopping our closet first all year long and then shopping responsibly.
7. Ordering In
I enjoy cooking, and I always have, but I found myself ordering out more than ever once I moved out on my own, and it not only impacted my pockets but also my waistline. Recently, I've found myself experiencing so much joy in cooking and deciding to order out less and instead become more intentional about cooking more of what I enjoy, and when I desire take out, driving to go get it, and if I don't want to drive to pick the food up, then I clearly don't want it as much as I thought I did.
8. Luxury Massages
I went through this phase of needing to go to the most aesthetically pleasing places, only to discover that you're paying not just for the service, you're paying for the vibes. Growing up watching Girlfriends, I thought every massage I'd experience would be with my girls at a luxury spa with champagne, and then I realized it wasn't sustainable. That's not to say that I don't indulge in the $250 massage, but monthly, I can afford the $50 massage at the local spa with ease, and trust me when I say the experience is just as satisfying, if not more because I know I can go back.
Does cutting these expenses mean I no longer allow myself to experience ease and rest? No, because every month, I still have my house cleaned and enjoy dinners out, massages, weekly swims, time in the sauna, and other activities because my budget is now more flexible because my monthly maintenance isn't draining my bank account.
This year, ask yourself what you really need every month. Your future self will thank you for it.
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Featured image by Charday Penn/Getty Images