Reasons to be Cheerful, and COVID19

We’re living through some strange times, aren’t we?

Schools shut, the majority of shops closed, roads eerily barren, and life in general is void of its usual hustle and bustle. It feels as though everyone has up and disappeared.

Major sporting events like the Olympics have been postponed indefinitely, the Eurovision Song Contest has been cancelled for this year (a silver lining if there ever was one), social gatherings banned – the entire world on ‘pause’, all thanks to COVID-19.

We humans frequently like to think ourselves as invincible. Funny what something as simple as a virus can do. Nature has unapologetically reminded us of who’s boss here.

Mother Nature; Badass boss lady

In light of the current situation, it’s all too easy to get caught up in your own panic and anxiety – which I, too, had found myself falling prey to. For me, it all really hit home when my daughter’s school closed its doors for the last time on 12th March. Staff and pupils innocently thought they’d all be seeing each other again within a week or so – until it became obvious that it would be much longer than that.

This also meant that I now had to adapt to a totally new routine, too. I now had to work from home for the foreseeable future – something which I know I am tremendously privileged to be able to do. I then got a taste of what life is like for a teacher. I’ll say this; each and every single one of them deserve a trophy (or, at the very least, a pay raise).

It all hit a few days into voluntary quarantine (I’m asthmatic, so COVID19 would be a bad idea right about now). There I was, listening to some tunes, going about my day, when a freakin’ Billie Eilish song of all things brought the entire situation crashing down on me like a massive tidal wave.

Damn you, ‘Ocean Eyes’

How long would we need to stay quarantined for? What happened if we had some sort of medical emergency – or, Heavens forbid, actually contracted the virus? How long would my daughter’s education be disrupted for? What if the healthcare system couldn’t cope? What if loved ones (some of whom healthcare workers) became ill? When would things be ‘normal’ again?

I had hit a slump, and stayed there for quite some time. Nothing and nobody could shake off the gloom and despair I was feeling. Under normal circumstances, I’d go to the gym to burn off some steam, or to a cafe’ to unwind. Those coping mechanisms were now out of the question, and I had nowhere to go to escape these troublesome thoughts.

Ironically, what eventually got me out of my little funk was the very thing I should have been avoiding, given my anxiety – the news. Somewhere in the midst of piece after piece on COVID19, there it was – an article on how, thanks to millions of people adhering to guidelines and staying put at home, pollution rates had nose-dived. In Malta alone, this had dropped by a whopping 70% in just one month.

Wasn’t that simply awesome? After so much campaigning and awareness on the topic, after thinking that there was no way around it, emission rates were down, and the Earth was having itself a well-deserved breather. Mother Nature herself was taking back what was rightfully hers. Greta Thunberg must be well pleased.

*Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” playing softly in the background*

Another positive to take out of this is that China, once thought of as the epicenter of the outbreak, has seen major improvements over the last weeks. At time of writing (25th March), the number of new infections and deaths has been steadily declining, which proves that their efforts are working and do have results. And whilst there is no doubt that the current situation in countries like Italy and Spain is dire, here is concrete proof that the situation gets better with the right actions and precautions.

Something which has been the silver lining for most people in this situation is the added time spent with their loved ones. Yes, we all get driven crazy by family, much as we love them. However, when are we ever going to get such an opportunity for quality time? We probably all take our loved ones for granted – here’s the chance to all pull together and be there for one another.

And speaking of taking for granted, my last but definitely not least ‘reason to be cheerful’ is my new-found gratitude for the people busting their behinds for us at this challenging time. Whilst they do this for us day-in day-out regardless, being so selfless during these times is truly something to applaud.

To all doctors, nurses, carers, healthcare workers, pharmacists, cleaners, volunteers, supermarket employees, logistics people, police officers, people in the armed-forces; a giant, heartfelt ‘thank you’ is due to each and every single one of you. Now, and always.

In a nutshell; whilst this situation is far from anybody’s idea of a fun time, positives can be taken from it. Check on your loved ones, stay indoors as often as you can, and keep a positive mental attitude. With any luck – and with everyone taking precautions! – things will be back to normal sooner rather than later.

Keep safe, everybody.

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