I think it is safe to say most people know about the Coronavirus, and that many countries are now imposing social distancing and restrictions on travel and general movements.
Here in Melbourne, Australia, my work has slowly moved everyone onto Work From Home arrangements until the end of March initially (we operate out of a high rise tower in the CBD with most staff on public transport), the local libraries and community centres have closed, so have art galleries and learning centres, supermarkets are stripped bare of anything and retail shops are struggling to stay open.
By the end of this week there is an expectation that cinemas, clubs and large restaurants will also close. Airlines have all cut back on flights and construction on major job sites have pretty much stopped.
But what does that all mean? While that does mean it will help slow down infection rates, we are now in unprecedented times. We are extremely fortunate that most people have access to the internet at home (hello Netflix!) but many people could find themselves without jobs or income within the next few months.
So what can you do to stay positive in this time?
Create a routine and stick to it.
Being self isolated means we are going to be in small quarters for an unknown length of time, so it is important to create a routine so the days don’t drag and you also make the most of this enforced social distancing.
Mental health is absolutely critical and arguably more important than physical at this point. It helps keep us sane and positive when things don’t go our way.
Exercise. Just because you can’t get to the gym, doesn’t mean you stop. Pick a time of day and hop on google for ideas of home workouts. It doesn’t need to be complicated, and you will be amazed at what you can find at home to help with body weight exercises!
Stay in contact, phone calls, texts, video chat, emails… these are all easy and great ways to stay in contact with family and friends. Talk about what book you are reading or show you are watching, share recipes and talk about something you learned. It doesn’t mean hour long conversations about nothing, just a few minutes is enough. There are so many who will be completely isolated (elderly, vulnerable, ill) who will really appreciate that little bit of contact, and it will mean much more to them then to you.
Are you able to work from home?
If yes, fantastic. It will be a massive help to stay motivated and provides a distraction. If not, can you alter your hours to avoid travelling during peak hour?
I am fortunate that my job already allowed work from home on limited basis, because it meant they were better prepared for their 500 plus staff to suddenly need to be remote.
So everyday I log in to my work laptop around 7.30am while having breakfast and coffee, and check emails, diaries and latest updates (I am an executive assistant – so there isn’t as much for me to do remotely, except provide support and pre-empt any issues that I might see in the emails). But by keeping the laptop open I am able to check how things are going while doing my own thing at home.
If your work doesn’t allow or isn’t set up for work from home, then this is…
The perfect time to catch up on your education
There are so many free resources online that your hardest part will be figuring out which are legitimate and which are not!
Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn but never had time? Now there is no excuses… My favourite spot to look at is The Entrepreneur Store. It is a online one stop shop with links to dozens of online providers of courses at discounted prices. Learn Adobe, excel, project management, cyber security and more.
Just keep in mind that the default currency is in USD$ and you’ll be fine. I’ve signed up to several but have always been too ‘busy’ to start. I don’t really have an excuse now though!
It's time to clean house - Marie Kondo style!
With awareness of hygiene at an all time high, take this time to scrub your place from top to bottom, and yes that means moving furniture to vacuum underneath them!
In the last two days I have scrubbed my place from top to bottom, changed my sheets, aired out the apartment and cleaned out my kitchen cupboards and fridge.
Bring out your inner Marie Kondo and go through everything. What else do you have to do? Catch up on the latest Netflix series? We can do that later…
Start section by section, then move to room by room.
Check use by dates and throw out that make-up pallet you’ve held onto for a few years too long.
Take stock of your kitchen and general supplies
With people going absolutely mental at supermarkets, it is time to recognise that many of us just don’t have the money or the space to stockpile several weeks worth of food and household items.
So before we risk further injury at the shops, first take stock of what you have. By that I mean pull out everything.
Pick a spot to put it all, wipe down and clean all the cupboards, shelves, fridge (and even the bin). Now lets look.
Veggies been in the fridge for a little too long? Soup. Hopefully you have a blender or food processor. If not, stick blenders are the best and take up minimal space.
Have a look at the Mueller Austria Ultra-Stick Multi-Purpose Hand Blender from Amazon… this very nifty device can whip, blend and froth up whatever you need, with minimal storage space required (also much cheaper than going for a traditional blender).
When my Nutribullet died, I didn’t have the money for a new one so picked up this stick blender. It has actually been much easier to use and clean, while soups are not as smooth it blends everything really well.
Go through all your herbs, spices, jar sauces and oils. Throw out anything that is well past the use by date. Because let’s face it, if you haven’t used it by now – you never will.
Now let’s look at the rest…
Overripe fruit? Cut them up and freeze them in sandwich bags. Perfect for smoothies or home made sorbet.
Mince meat? You can make bolognaise, burger patties, chilli con carne or rissoles from that.
My parents managed to get me a kilo of mince meat from their butcher the other day (I went to 5 supermarkets over the weekend and not one had any meat left at all).
So using the following ingredients from my cupboard I made a basic version of bolognaise (don’t tell my Italian grandmother – she would congratulate me on being creative before cursing me for some of the ingredients I used!)
Everyone will have different things in their kitchen cupboards, which is completely normal. But what I love about a basic pasta sauce is that you can use it to create dozens of different dishes. Make a big pot, let it sit for a few hours then split it up into small containers and freeze.
Just a note – you only need to add a tiny bit of chilli when freezing it. Trust be it really heats up when you defrost it!
I also throw in most of my veggies into a stock pot, cooked it down and blended it all into a healthy soup. Hard boil some eggs and roughly chop them up into the soup when serving. Veggies plus protein.
Keep in mind that when blending, it is much easier to get creative as you don’t need to worry so much about the veggies breaking down or what texture they might have. Add a bit of seasoning or herbs and you will be amazed how good they can come out.
My clear-the-fridge-out soup included: carrots, celery, parsnip, lettuce, eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, mushrooms, leeks.
Not the standard! But is actually came out really nice with a bit of cracked pepper and salt and is a healthy snack to have during the day or as a standalone meal.
As more of us will be struggling over the next few months, it is now more then ever time to be kind.
Take the time to pull out anything you no longer want or need, making sure they are in good condition (charity stores are not giant bins) and drop it off at your local charity store.
Books, clothes, shoes, bags, pillows, kitchen utensils, DVDs… even those little toiletry kits you stock up on from hotels but have never opened. They are all useful to someone else.
Animal shelters can use old (clean) towels, blankets and soft toys. If your office is going through a massive paper cleanup, then some places will also take the giant bags of shredded up paper as well. Call your local shops and find out.
If you are in a position to help with anything (basic repairs, pick up small groceries, walk a dog) put some flyers into mailboxes near your home or a sign up in your apartment block. You never know who might need help or just something as simple as company.
Stop Listening to Fake News
Social media and the internet is an amazing tool, it provides endless information, entertainment and learning tools.
But it is also filled with dangerous amounts of false information and fake news. This is reminder to not believe everything you read online, there is no proven cure and the world is not going to end. For the latest correct information check your local government’s website for up-to-date information on restrictions and recommendations for you and your area.
Also, take the time to install a decent antivirus and avoid spammy looking emails. With people online even more now, there will be many *not nice* people trying to take advantage.
The World is Not Ending
It is just going through a period of incredible change that no one living has ever gone through before. But thanks to technology we are better equipped to protect ourselves and others around us.
We just need to learn to think before we act and be mindful of those around us. While the virus won’t be around forever, the changes we make now will have a profound impact on the way we live now and in the future.
What changes are you making to your life?