Personal Strategies During Quarantine
The sweeping actions various governments have taken to curb the spread of COVID-19 has created a surreal situation with significant impacts on most people’s daily lives. These regulations are not just an inconvenience, but will lead to disastrous, long-term devastation to the world and local economies. It truly is a situation where the fear of the virus is likely more damaging than the virus itself. The reality is that there are no “adults in charge”, or rather, no one is making logical decisions based on evidence, but simply reacting to the situation as it unfolds.
It’s easy to fixate on the errors the various levels of government in many countries have made, and are still making, which will undoubtedly lead to dramatically worse outcomes than could have been expected. For instance, neglect over easy precautions, delayed responses, and a lack of data. We are shutting down the world to keep social distancing, yet swarming into grocery stores in crowds. Some European countries have put limits on the amount of people allowed in stores at a time, and in North America, some are starting to put “x”s in the lines to show how much distance to keep. Further actions are likely coming but it is too little, too late.
On top of this, until recently, said grocery stores were doing nothing to aid in sanitation. Why were there not hand sanitizers at the entrance to the store, and at the end of every aisle? The ones that have it now, at least locally in Greater Vancouver, are still largely ineffective. They are hidden away, and often empty. Most countries failed to act and are now acting with very poor data. We aren’t testing enough, and we aren’t randomly testing the population. We cannot predict the trajectory of this pandemic without proper, statistical data. When considering the unknown amount of asymptomatic cases, and mild cases that are not warranting testing, it is impossible to know the true mortality rate. It is also impossible to know the real current rate of infection, meaning any estimates on peak infections and burden to the healthcare system and as such, appropriate regulatory actions aimed to flatten the curve are at best a shot in the dark. Without data, we have no way of knowing if these actions are causing more harm than good, or if the actions are even sufficient. Fixating on these errors will not help us with key issues: our mental sanity, and what we can do to quell the destruction of the economy.
It’s very tempting to let this unprecedented situation disrupt focus on self-growth and distract us from our typical responsibilities. Memes aplenty suggest we treat this period as “another Christmas”. Based on the sharp decline in communications for business purposes, even from contacts that work remotely and should be unaffected (in their duties) from this situation, suggests many have taken this to heart, consciously or subconsciously. This is the absolute worst thing we can collectively be doing. The world is rocked by this pandemic, and the economy will take a long time to recover, possibly years. By further contributing to the decline we are individually adding to the devastation. Additionally, the longer we skirt our usual responsibilities, the harder it will be to get back into the groove once the dust settles.
Fuel Your Self Growth
Use this time to pursue projects and passions that you have put off, or neglected, to keep a sense of progress and accomplishment. Personally, every day I have tackled one item in my home that has long been neglected, i.e. organizing storage, etc. I’ve increased my weekly nature walk for self-care to a daily walk, and some days am going on two long walks. I’ve started a writing project that I was neglecting, due to the undertaking it will be. Think to yourself, what do you want to achieve that isn’t affected by social distancing? Is there a subject you want to learn? Buy some books. Find something to keep yourself busy, and to keep yourself growing as a person.
As an addendum, do not use this extended social distancing to disregard your health. COVID-19 seems to be much harsher for those with elevated blood glucose, and elevated blood pressure. Do not treat this as a “second Christmas.” Eat as healthy as you can and stay active. If you can, get out into nature and go on walks, hikes, runs or bike rides, just make sure to keep appropriate space between yourself and others. Work out at home with whatever you have, your own bodyweight included. For those that need work out friends, utilize video calling to motivate yourself and your friends. Do not let your health fall apart.
Work & Contribute to Consumerism
I cannot state this firmly enough: If you have a job that is largely unaffected by the social distancing measures and you are able to, stay on top of it. Do not slack off, and do not use the pandemic as an excuse to lose focus. A large portion of the world economy is in disarray, we need those who are still able to fulfill their part to be doing so to the best of their abilities. The economic crash may come with far greater consequences than the virus. Everything we can be doing to keep our economy functioning; we need to be doing.
This includes consumerism. When we are afraid, we tend to buy less. If you have the financial means, and you haven’t lost your job, continue to purchase goods. Others depend on this. If we all shell up and stop buying, more and more companies will go bankrupt, and more and more will lose their jobs. This sort of economic collapse will come with far greater impact than losing a few weeks, or a month’s income. Governments are already recommending you pay gift cards to your favourite restaurant to keep local economies alive. This is great, but we no longer exist in a local economy. We cannot only be thinking about the small local restaurant, but also the planet. Most of us will be saving money on travel; contribute it elsewhere, at least in part.
What We Need to Stop
People need to stop panic-buying necessities. Stop hoarding food, toilet paper and cleaning supplies. No one needs a year’s supply of toilet paper or a deep freezer full of meat. It’s selfish, contributes to food waste, and means others won’t have access to food or necessities.
We are standing at the precipice. The decisions and actions we take in the coming weeks and months will determine the outcomes and trajectory of our entire way of life. It’s important that we don’t just stay safe from the virus, but protect ourselves from the economic collapse the virus will cause. Hoarding and selfishness in this instance will ultimately lead to worse outcomes for all of us. Keeping the world functioning is in all of our best interests.