April 03, 2020 By Sanjeevani Yonzon Shrestha (COVID-19)

Social Distancing during the horrific COVID19 pandemic has given us a lot of time to stay at home and reflect on our lives. Some of us are coping with the death of loved ones and some may be isolating themselves due to appearance of symptoms of this Corona Virus infection. We  must be vigilant of our health and take all precautions. I recently heard Gagan Thapa, our Parliamentarian and former Health Minister say- "any over-reaction is better than under-reaction in these crises." I totally agree and stress we must not undermine the seriousness of this.  We have been fortunate that Nepal has not witnessed the severity of this crisis. But we have all felt the pain. We must, no matter what, however move on in life with a positive outlook. We must believe that "this too shall pass" and we shall come out of the woods as better people collectively. I have been using the word collectively more often these days because the entire world is facing this problem together. It has forced us to reassess how we have been doing things and revalue things. Being an Environmental Scientist and an Educationist the biggest problem I have faced has been to drive home the message that what we do on the earth, it will come back to us. This pandemic has risen like no other issue to show us- we must slow our pace. Evolution of the human kind in the mind is much more important than the crazy commercial world we have spun around us. For years we, as an organisation have struggled to keep Environment and Health in priority of the education system of Nepal- but it took a worse kind of a disaster to probably put it back on PRIORITY 1 of every nation. I hope it stays there.

Nearly two weeks in social distancing during this crisis, I have truly realized the basic fabric of society is based on how we treat each other. People who are kind and nice to other people in everyday life has been rewarded in these dire times. My mother and Grandmother (everyone is biased about their mother and grandmother I know
) are truly the nicest people I know. Though totally different in their behavior, their approach to life is the same - be giving and kind to others no matter what and this is being paid in full. People are delivering the necessary supplies and vegetables at their front doors by kind shopkeepers and helpful neighbors. No money can buy this. So the gist of this is- "Be Nice to People". Period. Don’t expect to get anything back but in times of need you will be rewarded.

I don’t know how many people will read this piece but I hope some do and some will find it useful. Today I would like to talk about few more positive things that we can do during the time of this global lockdown and social distancing. I know some of you might think that this is frivolous but I think they are just as important to keep things light and joyous. Most of us are fortunate to be alive and well and it is important to keep it that way.


I think many of us do not ever dedicate enough time to ourselves. Today men and women are equally caught up in our daily life that most of us do not find the time for self-care. If this is the case, it is a good time to start. You could separate some time for personal grooming. Take care of your skin- get a homemade face-pack or do some pedicureJ (I strongly recommend for both men and women). I stress there is nothing better than to have a clean skin. With age all of us get our lines and wrinkles and age spots – but I say we have earned them and should wear it with pride. In spite of them, we can still have healthy clean skin. Yes, so make some time for your skin.

You could also pick up a book that you never had the time to finish, learn Yoga or do something positive that helps you increase your wellness or think of your wellness – to start off with . I have recently started surya namaskar every morning. A good friend shared this video which I was putting off to start …and then one day during the lock down I started! I used to do it before but was never able to stick to it. I hear it takes 21 days to make anything a habit. So I thought maybe this is just the right time to start again. We shall see where I land up!

This could also be the time to learn about different types of music, start painting or learn about art! You know I never knew that I liked alternative rock or had time to learn about Jazz or Blues or Nepali jyaure for that matter. It has been quite good actually to learn of them and appreciate music and listen to them as the days go by.

It is also the right time to share some of these activities with our children…especially exposing them to different music or to the joys of a book or yoga.

I think the most important time and happy time of the day is definitely when we sit to eat! It doesn’t matter if you are the king or a pauper! I am sure good food always puts a smile on you. So why not make it an occasion and prepare something nice and happy each day! I know we all have to keep an eye on the food ration and essential supplies but the trick is to find the balance. You can stir up a happy meal together-no matter what we are left with. A happy meal is something that everyone likes…in Nepal… yes it's always momo J but maybe we can be a little more creative. There's not a better activity like cooking and eating a joyous and healthy meal together. After all a family that cooks and eats together stays together- literally this time! There are many recipes mentioned in http://www.writeweavers.com/ that you can look up and start cooking.


If ever there is a time for taking up gardening this is the time. It is spring and everything is just blooming and growing. You could start gardening in a huge garden, small patch of land or few pots, depending on where you live. There are so many websites and self-help channels that you could go to, to start gardening.

I understand that those of us who had gardeners come in to help us maintain our gardens may no longer have this help anymore. Understandably, they too need to think of their health and security. This is why maybe it is time for you to get your hands dirty and start getting the good microbes in the soil onto your hands. With the virus going on though, you might want to wear your protective gloves. Use masks if need be.

It might be difficult to plant new flowers because you will have to go out to get their saplings you could definitely start with some vegetables that are in your kitchen!

If anything this lockdown has taught me, it is to completely realize the SELF SUFFICIENCY PART! I know we cannot grow rice and corn and lentils ourselves, we can most definitely plant the greens and herbs and some vegetables throughout the year!

To start right now with three easy things to grow– rummage through the kitchen and get hold of Whole Coriander seeds, some whole Onions and Garlic cloves. If you select just the ones which already have green shoots coming out then even better.

You can directly sow them in the pots or a prepared patch of land…before the lockdown gets over you can see them grow and enjoy. The beautiful part of this is- you can harvest multiple times and they keep growing back. There's nothing better to see things you sow –grow! Keep them watered and plant them the right away ;) shoots facing the sky and roots the soil.  You can also do the same with lettuce. If you have bought lettuce leaves with their roots, then just remove the leaves- maybe leave some and plant it with the roots intact and enjoy them as they grow over and over.

Someone said, "A person who plants a seed believes in tomorrow". How simple and yet poignant.

This is definitely the best kind of activity that you can have your children do with you. Now get those green thumbs working!!

If there is one thing that has come out truly unadulteratedly positive is that our earth is healing. Scientists have noticed that the vibrations of the earth has changed…as the chaos of our daily grind has halted to a standstill, the weather has improved and the crazy levels of Carbon Dioxide has come down. In Kathmandu we can finally see our hills and blue sky over our heads.  So even though the entire humanity is going through a crisis, nature is taking one day at time…it is giving us every reason to believe in the goodness of life.

Therefore we can also make this time to hope for better times. And what better way than to make a happy plan for the future. We can also do this as a family. Each of us can add one line to the happy plan when this is all over.

For example it could be like- Going to see the Rara Lake, or make it to the Everest Base Camp. It could be eating your heart out at your favorite Japanese Restaurant or plan for a holiday in Japan! Do it now…make a plan and make it happen!


Sanjeevani is an Environmental scientist and Educationist. She works at WCN. She lives in Kathmandu with her family. She can be reached at sanjeevani@wcn.org.np

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