I was reading an article this morning written by a philosopher in lockdown. He said that he was using the time during coronavirus confinement to reflect. I think he is an elderly gentleman, required to self-isolate. He certainly isn’t in charge of young children. He’s lucky to find a path that gives what’s happening some meaning. At least for him.
In our separate houses, we’re each facing a unique situation albeit within the same constraints. We mustn’t leave the house for unessential reasons, socialise, meet with family or friends, take a walk, play sport (other than virtual video games). Most of the things that usually enrich our lives, are, effectively banned. So how do we cope?
This is where many of the similarities end and it’s time to consider, like our philosopher, our own individual natures and what works best for us. Some will have little choice. The group that I most feel sorry for are the women locked inside small flats with no outside space and young children. For them, day-to-day will be a challenge. Perhaps on day one they will have had ambitions of home schooling and home cooking. My advice – don’t expect too much of yourself.
Then there are those without the option of staying at home. The nurses, the doctors, the paramedics, the street cleaners and shelf stackers, the police officers and those trying to help the vulnerable. They remind us on Facebook that staying at home can be seen as a luxury.
But what of the rest of us? There are plenty of new roles we can play.
Type of roles we can play during
The coronavirus expert
Suddenly we all have our theories. Where the virus came from, how it spread, who conspired to make this a pandemic. The coronavirus expert is up first thing in the morning to check the statistics (which apparently are usually out later in the day) and to find out which country is up, which down and which has it yet to come.
For some of us keeping abreast of what’s going on and sharing it with others is what’s keeping us afloat. There’s certainly plenty of news to read and some, like The Local, have taken down their pay walls to share information. Articles, information and advice are out there and accessible. It’s just making sure that you apply your own filters to what you read. Not everyone is an expert.
Social media junky
If there is one feature of 21st century life that’s thriving, it’s social media. With everyone behind closed doors for days on end, no matter what your age, chatting over the internet, reading online, even doing a new online course are at your finger tips. What would we have done without it?
In our house there are no more arguments about screen time. With a thirteen year old boy and no possibility of accessing the football pitch, all previous resistance to online activities has disappeared in favour of an acceptance that the alternatives are few and far between.
Social media is really playing a part too in keeping people connected. Teachers are reaching out to their students, families and social groups are using Facetime, Skype and chat rooms like never before. Social media has come in for a lot of criticism but now, used wisely, it’s a lifeline.
The indoor games co-ordinator
How did people used to enjoy themselves? I imagine that more than one household has been dusting off the monopoly and cluedo boards and wondering where the dice and the paper money went.
Coronavirus confinement is a good opportunity to revisit some card games, board games and even, dare I suggest, charades. It’s not going to fill all your day but having a games slot to look forward to (or dread) might just help break up the monotony.
The master chef
At the present time food is not being rationed. You can still (only one person at a time please!) go to the supermarkets and most of them are well-stocked every day. Without the option of your favourite Chinese or Indian meal or a cheeky menu del día then a cooked evening meal can become the focus of your day.
If you’ve allowed your culinary skills to flounder a little over the years (after all, eating out here can be as cheap as eating in) now is the time to search out your cookery books. Even if you can’t find them there’s no shortage of recipes online. Go on, you might surprise yourself.
The community activist
It might seem strange at a time when everyone must stay a metre apart, that people are reaching out more than ever. We’ve seen the daily applause for health workers and others providing much needed services. There’s Facebook posts of neighbourhoods where people are out on their balconies, singing together, playing music and spreading encouragement – at a safe distance of course.
It’s brought out the best in some and taking part in activities like this has not only rallied others but created a sense of purpose driven by the community activist in us all. Let’s hope this continues when we can once again enter each other’s space.
The indoor fitness guru
There’s no shortage of ideas online for using whatever little space you have to keep up your daily step target. You might not be able to use your Fitbit in quite the same way but you can try a little yoga and set yourself a day-to-day challenge.
For some people a daily boost of sport-driven adrenaline – whether its sit-ups, press-ups or even running on the spot, can blow away the cobwebs. It might not be quite like your local gym but for those who want to keep their fitness it’s surprising what a little creativity can do.
The spring cleaner
It might not feel like spring but there are plenty of people who will take the opportunity to put on their apron and get out the mop. It’s deep clean time and there can be a great deal of satisfaction in tidying those darkest corners and turning your attention to those little jobs that you’ve needed to do for a while.
It’s too late to go out and purchase your next set of DIY project materials but you might have a tin of paint somewhere and a couple of brushes to keep your home looking spick and span. When we can open our doors it’ll be good to welcome people inside our super tidy homes.
This will pass
We don’t know how long the lockdown will continue. The fact is that as individuals we have no say in this and no option but to do our bit. What we can influence is the message we send out to those immediately around us. Let’s not be too hard on ourselves or those we share our space with.
We’re not going to look our best every day, we may put on a little weight and wish we’d been to the hairdressers before the lockdown began. But, we are all in similar situations and whatever our differences before, we do need each other now. Like every good and bad time, this will be over. We can already start to imagine what it will be like to walk freely through the gate and wander on the beach. What will be the first thing you will do?
Let’s be nice to each other, empathise and use all our creativity and resilience. It doesn’t matter if you’re a virus expert or master chef, a media junky or games co-ordinator, or even all of these things. If that’s your way of seeing this challenge through, then that’s alright by me.
Our top fifteen suggestions for generating a smile during coronavirus confinement
- Pick up the phone – we spend a lot of time messaging but sometimes it’s good to talk.
- Get out the board games or a pack of cards. Revisit the old favourites you’ve not had time for, for years
- Join in the celebrations of those on the front line – even if your neighbours aren’t applauding yet, if you start they just might join in
- Look for an online course. It’s a good time to pursue an online activity that you’ve been meaning to do
- Get into a good book. If you have a kindle this shouldn’t be a problem. Alternatively why don’t you get out some old favourites. Just like watching a film again, you’re bound to have forgotten plenty and discover something new.
- Try some new recipes – pick up something completely different from the supermarket and see what you can make. Look online for how to cook it and take the opportunity to experiment
- Watch every episode of your favourite TV show, box set or Netflix series – you can’t accuse yourself of wasting time!
- Identify a window every day when you’ll do a little physical activity – there’s plenty of suggestions on Facebook. Even if it’s just a little stretching or running/ or walking up and down stairs.
- Write a diary or perhaps even a book. How many times have you said that you’d like to write one but don’t have the time? Well now…
- Move some furniture around – organize something differently. There’s time to look at your living space and make some changes.
- Be nice to yourself and to others. This isn’t easy and toilet rolls are important but…
- Download a video game – yes, you can still play these even if you’re not a teenager
- Try a little drawing, or painting if you’ve got the resources. You can find ‘how to draw’ online and all you need is a pencil and some paper
- Practise your Spanish! Get out those old vocabulary books and the text book you bought many moons ago. There are courses online too.
- It is time for reflection, so join our philosopher, get out the old photos and let’s try and count our blessings