April 03, 2020 By Sanjeevani Yonzon Shrestha (COVID-19)
The Corona Virus or COVID 19 has taken over our lives and as the whole world is under a lockdown, most of us feel this is probably the most distressing times of our lives. The whole of humanity is facing this collectively. We are bombarded with information about the virus and more we hear about this, the more worried we might have become. I too have felt the enormity of this problem bog me down- but making a conscious decision to be the best that we can be in such a situation has been essential for me to function normally.
As all things have two sides I urge us to look at the situation of "Social Distancing" not as the worst situation of being stuck in our homes but as an opportunity to bond with our loved ones, exchange ideas, and spend quality time doing productive and positive things. Social distancing means physical distancing from people, it does not mean emotional distancing from people.
I strongly suggest that we look at this situation from two angles. One- there are things that we do not have control on and two- there are things we have control on. Things that we cannot do anything about are the things I suggest we should not get too worked up about (I tend to do that sometimes). We must focus on things that we do have control of and there are a spectrum of things we can do.
Twelve days into self-isolation with family here are few things I have been doing and maybe you could do it too while SOCIAL DISTANCING.
GET OFF YOUR BED AND OFF TV- EVERY DAY IS NOT SATURDAY I realize that that many of us find it difficult to leave our beds. But if it is not Saturday, I suggest that you "get off your bed" and stop sitting in front of the TV or with the phone. This is not going to do any good. Of course we must keep informed but don’t let this one activity dominate your entire day. Get off your bed, wash up and change clothes. I make it a point to ask my daughter and ourselves to change from our night clothes. It's very easy to feel lazy and go inside the comforts of the cozy unmade bed with your sleeping clothes throughout the day. But trust me, it is better for your mental health if you are up and about. It's important to gear up and face the day. Make your bed every day. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and there will be much joy to slip into a well-made bed later. Limit time on TV consciously. An hour and half watching the news is enough. Watch perhaps just one movie a day. Try to watch happy movies- if you watch at all. Limit not only TV time but all your other screen time as well.
MAKE A DAILY ROUTINE As an educationist, I have tried to keep my family busy throughout the day. I have developed a daily routine filled with activities that we might do together or on our own and then share with each other. I truly believe that to keep our sanity we must focus on the positives.
Your daily routine should have healthy time allocation for productive work. This productive work may not just be your office work. Many of us are working from home. Today's technology is allowing us to video conference, hold meetings, and keep deadlines. But you must not overdo it as well. You must separate time where you learn new things and do something productive.
Here is how I have made my own lockdown routine. I have tried to follow the morning and evening routine more strictly, because in the afternoon you have to do several things according to your profession and preference.
Wake up time- 6.00 am
Change and Make your bed
Exercise and/or Meditate
Breakfast and Lunch Menu discuss
Late Afternoon and Evening Routine
Tea and Dinner Menu Discuss
Family Sharing Time
Your routine may also have interesting things like
Re-decorating your room
Organizing your wardrobe
Calling a lost long friend or family member/s
Taking up art, music
Making a happy meal
Taking up gardening
Learning about Birds that come to your garden and make them feeders and baths
FAMILY KNOWLEDGE SHARING Many a times even when we are together we don’t share things with each other. If you are in self-isolation with your family then I think this situation can be utilized to find about things you were always curious of and share with your other family members. This I have found to be really fun and productive. If you are alone then perhaps you can research about things and make write about them. Perhaps you could like to keep a digital story diary. Perhaps one day it could be published? Why not? Anne Frank wrote about her feelings during a hideaway time and became the one of the most famous writers of all times.
What we do in our household is that each of us prepare something or research over the day and present to each other in the evenings. For example- My husband is a food lover and a good cook so we have agreed that he will research about food or cooking and share with us in the evening. Over the few days he has told us about different kinds of peppers around the world, Italian cooking, accidentally discovered popular foods!- to name a few. My daughter who is 9 has learnt to make powerpoint presentations. If she using the laptop so much-might as well use it for a better purpose! She has researched (over google - we all do right?) and told us about different types of Painting styles, about Abstract Art, about the most famous Abstract Artists- Mr. Jackson Pullock and Mr. Picasso and shocked us by talking about the youngest Abstract Artist Aelita. She was blown away by finding out how much each of arts of these artists made! I am sure more than ever, she is determined to become an artist. Haha!
I on the other hand have been researching about the superlative flora and fauna of Nepal. Do you know that we have the biggest honey bee in the world and it's called the Giant Himalayan Honey Bee and they make mad honey! Well I am happy to report that the end of it all this all, I might come up with a book series! We shall see.
Each of us share about our topics in different ways. I say, you can do it story style, through powerpoint presentation, or just show pictures. I think the idea is not be pressure yourself too much. This experience needs to be fun. The whole point of this is to talk to each other and while talking build up on your general knowledge (GK) and just feel good. This will also make us realize there are so many things in the world that we had no knowledge of and make us realize there is much more to life than our daily grind.
Many times we have experts in our family but we never make time to share the knowledge we have with our family members. Some of us may even have an expert story teller. Let's hear a new story, or relive an old one, or just add on to our GK. The point is to keep our brain cells active in a positive way. Let us all remember this time we have not as traumatic Corona Virus time but a time which brought us closer to the people we love and closer to our true happy self.
More on my next blog on Gardening, Making some Me-Time and Making a Happy Meal!
Sanjeevani is an Environmental scientist and Educationist. She works at WCN. She lives in Kathmandu with her family. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org