One month ago the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Is it just us, or does it seem like six months?
In that time we’ve all learned to wash our hands, wear our masks, and for Pete’s sake, don’t touch our faces. Most of us are probably over the initial shock. But as the crisis stretches on we’re learning that new challenges – and opportunities – keep popping up in our day-to-day lives.
This is the most important historical event in our lifetimes, so what are we learning?
1. Porch-sitting is back in fashion and it’s the perfect social-distancing solution. We live on a lovely, tree-lined street of houses and apartments built in the 1920s and 1930s, and each one has a small, private front porch facing the street. With stay-at-home restrictions, restaurant, bar, and business closures, porches are alive with folks enjoying the delightful spring weather, and chatting with neighbors and passersby. The interactions are a breath of fresh air – literally, and an instant cure for cabin fever.
2. We’re juggling new jargon. Just think of all the unknown and rarely used words and phrases that have become common in our everyday conversation: coronavirus, social distancing, flattening the curve, incubation period. shelter in place, asymptomatic, exponential, community spread, epidemiology, and herd immunity. We’re always interested in increasing our vocabularies; we could have skipped these terms.
3. Here’s our chance to hit the pause/reset button. Natural disasters happen somewhere on the planet every day. On the other side of the globe hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people lose their lives. But this crisis is happening in our own back yard … everyone’s own back yard.
For all of us, dire concerns, forced isolation, and radical changes in our routines have given us the chance to pause and reflect on who and what is truly important in our lives. And hopefully, when it’s all over we’ll return to center with a clear awareness of our real priorities.
4. Don’t fall for clickbait headlines. Too much time, TV, and internet mean that we’re all suffering from news overload. When bouncing from page to page online it’s easy to be sucked in by sensational clickbait. You know the ones: “500 Positive Coronavirus Tests in 24 Hours.” What the headline conveniently leaves out are the 2,000 negative tests.
Don’t get us wrong, as blog writers we understand the need for attention-grabbing titles, but it’s important to keep in mind what you absorb and how you react to headlines.
“Major news organizations do not see their role as mouthpieces for public health communication.” — University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy
Your mental health and stress level will be much improved if you try to get the whole story and understand the real implications of what you read – and don’t panic.
5. Social distancing is a good test of our self-entertainment skills. All this forced isolation is enough to drive you bonkers, and maintaining your mental health may take a bit of extra effort. Well, now’s the time to indulge your curiosities.
Whether it rib-stitch knitting, multi-line kite-flying, or Buddhist archery, now you have a chance to dig into the details – and there’s no better time. This is a golden opportunity for busy folks to take some “me time.”
6. We’re even MORE dependent on the internet. Whether for better or worse, with the ongoing or recurring need for social distancing everyone will become more dependent on the internet, social media, and other online resources for their daily lives. If you believe the internet is a panacea then we’re heading into a better world, but for those who think cyberspace is a seductive mistress depriving us of real, face-to-face interactions, it’s a slide down a slippery slope.
7. Prepare to play the long game. We all desperately want things to return to normal … and fast. But it doesn’t take an epidemiologist to see that, given the off-the-charts spread of COVID-19, it’s going to be a long time before the planet gets back to anything approaching normal. As every parent knows, asking, “Are we there yet?” only makes the trip seem longer.
Vivian Greene said it best:
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass,
it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
Happy Trails and Stay Healthy,
James & Terri
P.S. And if you don’t remember how much fun it can be to dance in the rain, just check it out!