Corona. Virus. Covid-19. Illness. Pandemic. Crisis.
Contracted. Death. Contain. Delay. Cancelled. Postponed.
Just a few of the fear-mongering terms we’ve been mentally inhaling since the global Corona breakout. Too rapidly to even comprehend, the virus has swept its way around the world – leaving a trail of panic and devastation for a majority in its tracks.
Businesses, schools and universities have closed their doors. Hospitals are operating beyond capacity. Highly anticipated music festivals, weddings, film premiers and sports events have hit cancel. And, most significantly, the likelihood of Karen going on her pre-summer holiday to Tenerife is looking like it’s going to be off the cards for a fair while.
But I’m sure you will already have a *reasonably* good idea on this, given the fact that we are now receiving hourly updates on the latest from every corner of the world. And it’s not just the news sites keeping us in the loop, oh no! Suddenly, social media has become a one stop shop for all you need to know about the current shit show that has taken place. Not only is your sister, godmother, uncle and ex Tinder date sharing ‘How to spot Corona symptoms’ infographics on their stories – but countless influencers and celebrities are also jumping on the hype to share their thoughts on the matter. Just in case we weren’t all hyper-aware of the situ already, thanks. xo
The dreaded words ‘We will soon be losing our loved ones before their time’ are spluttered by Boris on live television and just like that – yet another lorry load of hand sanitisers and toilet rolls fly right off the supermarket shelf quicker than you can say ‘self isolation’. But it really hits close to home when your friends are proudly showcasing their impeccable stocked up cupboards of tinned tomatoes and bagged rice (”Guess who got the last basmati!”) for Mission Quarantine.
On the other side, we have the likes of Chill Bill simply going about his normal routine; perched at his favourite table in the café, sipping his Americano with milk and telling us all to chill the fuck out. He casually licks his non sanitised finger, turns another page of the Sunday paper and very confidently informs us, ”Ahhh, it’s just like the regular flu. Trust me, it’ll all be over in a few weeks.” *Raises eyebrows, smiles smugly, does a joke cough without covering his mouth as if to prove point*
Ughhhh. So. Much. Information. And. Mixed. Messages. It’s a whole lot to take in, to say the very least.
So as we wash our hands for the 6583920th time to Happy Birthday (twice), are we doing enough here to also protect our mental health?
Our sponge like brains absorb everything – and when you can’t go anywhere without headlines clocking up the latest death tolls, the vast amounts of daunting insights can only take its toll on our minds. Try as you might to escape it, but the lack of spaghetti offerings and the fact that places that were once buzzing with life are now a dead town are the tough reminders you didn’t need of this global pandemic.
I’m scared, unsettled and anxious as hell. The uncertainty is keeping me on constant edge, but I’m trying to remain open minded. I’m trying to think clearly, rationally and with reason. Because here’s the thing: We cannot control something as powerful as this, but we can do our best to take care of ourselves – and just as crucially, all of those around us. Perhaps even sprinkle in some old fashioned common sense for good measure.
No good can come from suspiciously eyeing up your fellow commuters, questioning whether they really washed their hands for the exact time of 20 seconds. Nor can joining the hoards of trolly jockeys on their quest to swipe the aisles clean of long-life products. Self-interest is coming before compassion, and that’s an issue. Tackling this is going to be no easy feat, therefore we need to look out for each other. And that starts with piping down on the panic buying, so there is plenty to go around. ”HANDS UP KAREN! Thaaaaats it…. Put. The. Loo Roll. DOWN!”
And now I’m on a role – perhaps it is time we looked at our phones less and switched off the news. Of course it’s important to stay informed by reputable sources, but we don’t really need to let it consume our every hour of the day. I’m pretty certain that there are plenty of other things we could be doing with our time for some glorious escapism; getting creative, going out in the fresh air, binging on Masterchef and getting lost in that pile of hardbacks you’ve been stashing ‘for later’ all this time.
In a time when social distancing is the new FOMO, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from video calling a friend so you can exchange fond conversations about your latest hermit induced discoveries. So far, I have found that lying on the floor with a freshly painted pedicure and Dido on full blast to be most pleasurable. Even better when you add another item of clothing you can’t afford to your online shopping basket. ‘Positive visualisation’, and all that.
Being kind goes a long way. Whilst a lot of people won’t be seen as ”physically vulnerable” to Corona, they may well be struggling mentally – for all the reasons above and much, much more. The huge hysteria that has been built up in such a small amount of time is incredibly overwhelming, and offering an ear to listen never goes a miss. Might be nice to just keep an eye out going forward, too.
So let’s take care. Speak up when you’re feeling anxious, isolated and confused. Strike the sweet balance between time for yourself and looking after others. Find things that make you feel good, and incorporate them in to your everyday life. Listen to and follow expert health advice (spoiler alert: turns out drinking water does not make you invincible). Wash your hands. And for Gods sake Karen, JUST REMEMBER TO BREATHE!