Staying Safer (and Healthier) at Home

Eau Claire doctor offers tips on maintaining your family’s physical and mental health during isolating times

V1 Staff, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

Since COVID-19 came to dominate the headlines a few weeks ago – and particularly since Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order went into effect statewide on March 25 – our individual and collective health has been at the forefront of our minds. And while we know avoiding social contact can slow down the spread of this dangerous virus, staying inside all day for weeks on end may take a toll on our physical and mental health, too. Volume One talked to Dr. Mollie Meagher, a Family Medicine Resident Physician with Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, about how we can keep ourselves and our families healthy and happy during this unusual, stressful time.

Volume One: Besides special safety concerns and suggestions to combat the spread of COVID-19, how can people stay healthy during quarantine or self-isolation? How can we better monitor our GENERAL health and well-being?

Dr. Mollie Meagher: To stay healthy, continue to keep your normal routine as much as possible and stay connected to family and friends via virtual methods such as FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, or a simple phone call.
Continue to stay healthy and to be alert for symptoms by:

  • Keep your hands clean.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough and sneezes to keep germs from spreading to others.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces routinely.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • ALWAYS CALL YOUR PROVIDER FIRST before arriving at any health care facility for testing.

Will this be easier or harder when stuck at home?
This depends on how we approach this situation. If staying at home is looked at as a time where we can’t do things it may be more difficult. However, I encourage everyone to look at it as a time to see what we can do. Read that good book you’ve been putting off, clean the clutter around your house, learn to cook a new meal, call an old friend or anyone who may need an uplifting phone call, spend quality time with children, rearrange your furniture, paint a room a new color, learn a new skill, get outside (while keeping a six-foot distance, of course). There are so many things in our busy lives that take a backseat. Use this as a time to check those off your list.

Is there anything specific we should watch out for, in terms of our physical or emotional health, while staying at home for weeks or months at a time? Any red flags to look for and address?
Physically, look out for overeating and being more sedentary. Emotionally, look for signs of loneliness, isolation or depression, or anxiety not only in ourselves but also in family and friends. Feeling little interest in doing things, having trouble getting out of bed, having little energy to do things you normally enjoy, poor appetite or overeating, and trouble concentrating are all signs that you should call your doctor. In times of uncertainty, such as these, people can begin to feel very anxious. Look for things such as not being able to control worrying, becoming easily annoyed or irritable, or having difficulty relaxing. Again, reach out to your doctor for further discussion.

Do you have any tips or resources to stay active and get some exercise while staying at home?
There are lots of ways to stay active during this time! Though in Wisconsin we are under shelter-in-place orders, we are still allowed to get outside for walks, runs, hikes, or bike rides as long as we keep our six-foot distance from others. We live in a beautiful area with lots of biking and hiking trails to take advantage of.

Additionally there are several different services that are offering free online classes, challenges, and apps. Search on Google or YouTube for free classes as there are many for everyone.

As always, continue to support local businesses by reaching out to your local gym or yoga studio to ask if they offer any online options.

Can you speak to the importance of health and physical activity to one’s mental well-being?
Health and physical activity are known to help mental health and well-being. When we exercise, our body releases endorphins which trigger a positive feeling. Exercising outside in nature is even better. So get back on that bike, treadmill, or local trail and start being active.

What do you want the community to know in regards to health, safety, and well-being? What do you wish they knew and were doing?
Remember to continue to take care of yourself both physically and mentally, as this is a challenging time for everyone. Follow all of the “Safer at Home” and quarantine guidelines, as these will help to keep all community members safe. Most of all, reach out to family and friends to continue to be social while keeping distance and always call your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your physical or mental health.

Yes. We are prepared to treat patients with COVID-19 and are preparing to do so at a pandemic level should that occur.

Dr. Mollie Meagher, D.O., is a Family Medicine Resident Physician with Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.