Published 29 March 2020 ● Last Updated on 15 July 2020

As I write this article, I don’t know what worries me more – the bombardment of information coming my way (and me having to sieve through all of it!) or the fast paced global spread of COVID-19 itself. Either way, I feel like I’m stuck in a real life Pac-Man game – it’s only a matter of time before the ghosts catch up! By now we are aware of the necessary precautions that need to be taken in our respective countries; in this article we try to keep our focus on the ‘good in the bad’…

2020 cancelled meme
Dark humor, courtesy The Shovel

Who would have thought that year 2020 would be about learning to slow down and self isolate? While in the context of the current situation, it is a desperate measure to contain this novel coronavirus from spreading, in the ‘ideal’ scheme of things this is exactly what humanity and our planet needed for self healing!

As we continue to stay at home and distance ourselves for communal safety, we are most definitely having an impact on our world. Whether it is an environmental impact which is now clearly visible, or a social impact which is an abstract “new normal” – there is truly a whole new world out there! There are talks, perhaps rightly so, of climate change budgets and government/corporate actions suffering in the aftermath of COVID-19, however only time will tell what impact the planet undergoes eventually. 

Slowing down? The air you breathe is cleaner.

Coronavirus said “STOP!” and the world came to a standstill…

NASA satellite images coronavirus impact
Nitrogen dioxide over China dropped with the coronavirus quarantine, Chinese New Year, and a related economic slowdown – satellites images by @NASAearth

From our fast-paced daily lives to this slow stay-at-home life, everything seems to have calmed down other than the ‘panic’ buying! Yes, there will be repercussions – global economic slowdown is going to hit us hard and it may take the world a bit of time to recover. But at this point of time, every human life that can be saved has to be prioritized and for that to happen, a global lockdown is necessary. 

For those of us who have been fighting to make this planet a better place to live in, this global slowdown has given us an unexpected gift –  air pollution levels across the world are much lower! The air we are breathing is much cleaner, thanks to fewer cars on the roads, fewer commercial flights operating and industrial units shutting down. 

The bit that I am enjoying the most is having the globe trotting professionals learn how to work from home efficiently! (Thank God for Google and Zoom making seamless video conferencing possible) For those of us who have always worked from home, it is our chance to dole out ‘experienced’ advice to spouses and friends. Here are some tips to help you stay productive while working from home!

Social Distancing? More time for family bonding.

If the Oxford word of the year in 2019 was climate emergency, any guesses on what could be a top contestant in 2020? I’m putting my money on ‘social distancing’.

Many feel that social distancing is about avoiding crowded places and not going to public spots. It is that and much more – you can’t really go to your bestie’s house for coffee or arrange playdates for your kids at home when you are ‘social distancing’. Stay at home with family members and if you must step out for necessities – maintain a minimum of 6 feet distance from one another. Want to know more about social distancing practices, take a look at this article

mattsurelee COVID19 charts
Follow @Mattsurelee for his daily COVID chart updates! We simply love them.

A result of social distancing is we find ourselves with a lot of more time with our families at home. In our usual lives, we work hard to enable a better lifestyle for our families, unfortunately the one thing that inevitably ends up suffering is the quality time spent with family. But now, many of us find ourselves locked together in our homes now and believe me, this time is a gift with our loved ones and we need to make the most of it! So set a schedule ensuring that family activity time increases and individual activity time reduces (give personal devices the least amount of time possible!) 

If you need some ideas for family activities, for starters we suggest watching eco themed movies or re-purposing household items into useful things.

Staying indoors? Make your stepping outdoors count

Your decision to stay indoors in self ‘family’ isolation DOES make a difference – in the long run it saves lives. This article by the Washington Post explains the spread of coronavirus using simulation graphs – and it shows that extensive distancing does make a huge difference when it comes to curbing the spread of the virus. While some of us are complaining about staying indoors, think about those who have no option but to step out – doctors, nurses, paramedics, law and order personnels, authorities and other workers – without whom the recovery phase would be impossible. 

If you must step out, try to make a difference – Heading to get your groceries? Get some for your elderly neighbour too. A call for volunteering? Step up and offer your support. If you are unable to help in person, give monetary support – especially to groups that are suffering severe repercussions – such as migrant labourers and daily wage earners. 

If you live in Singapore, you could help by donating or volunteering with SG United.

Sg united

Getting anxious? If you can WFH, you can ESMAH too (Exercise Socialise Meditate at Home)

Covid-19 is the known threat; the other sly threats lurking around are mental health problems arising from anxiety and depression. Times are tough and so it is natural that people are worried but this level of anxiety is primarily the effect of excessive information intake and way too much uncertainty. If you do use WhatsApp, the incessant pinging of your phone indicating yet another forward is surely going to give you a headache at the very least! At any point if you sense anxiety and feel it is getting to you, make sure to seek professional help. 

Wondering how to reduce this anxious feeling? For starters, limit your information to reliable sources only. Meditate. Exercise- we found some fabulous tutorials for yoga enthusiasts on YouTube. Have a Guru? Ask him/her to conduct an FB live class or a paid session on Zoom! Connect with friends on video chat via Zoom or Skype. Do all that you have always wanted to do with this ‘gifted’ time. 

Panic Buying? Sharing is caring

100 rolls of toilet papers? 20 bottles of hand sanitiser? Food to last you the full year? This behaviour can partly be blamed on anxiety, but at some level it is humans ‘thinking about themselves only’. Difficult times do call for strict measures; however, all Governments have repeatedly announced that essentials will be provided and citizens should not hoard. Panic buying will not make you feel better or secure – it only increases your anxiety because you’re NEVER going to have enough to last you a lifetime!

Buy what you need. Pick up a few extras and share with those around you who need it. If you have excess of something, don’t save it for the end of the world – give it to someone who needs it today. There is always enough for everyone if we learn to share!

The coming days are going to be tough, stricter measures are going to be put in place to try and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. As responsible citizens of this world, let us do what is best for us and our dear ones. As Robert H. Schuller said, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” Take the tough call to stay indoors to stay safe!

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