Life in the time of social distancing

March 28, 2020

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Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

The world has changed forever in these last few weeks. And when this is all over, we would also have changed in so many ways — the way we do things, the way we look at things and the way we take all small and important things in life.

These weeks and the weeks ahead of social distancing due to Covid-19 appear daunting and depressing. There are more questions than there are answers. Few people are sure of what to do, but there is no doubt that staying at home and keeping ourselves and others safe is the best thing to do.

All this becomes a little easier, at least for me, when I reflect on how we have had weeks of warnings about what was taking place in other countries in the world because of Covid-19 and having the time to prepare for the lockdown that we are in now. If you live in a place that is considered less affected and a lockdown is not in place, consider voluntary social distancing to avoid getting infected from this virus.

If we look at our blessings, we will not be so depressed about staying home and giving up life as we have always known it. Think of the people in Kashmir, Syria and Palestine, just a few places today where people are forcefully deprived of their freedom, their homes and liberties by outsiders and enemies that are hard bent on crushing them. They have been in lockdown for years, with little ration or resources and a bleak future, if at all there is a future for them.

All the rest of the world that is going for a lockdown due to Covid-19 is at least getting a chance to collect and surround themselves with all the things they will need and be with their loved ones, with the governments working overtime to ensure the needs of the citizens are met as much as possible.

These are also going to be hard economic times for the whole world. For majority of the people, there will be less income as businesses close, people lose their jobs and they have to make whatever money they have now last as long as they can. Adults will have their own decisions to make for the whole family, and you too will have to make decisions, though of a different kind, of how to deal with the weeks and months of being off from school and social distancing.

Think of it this way — years from now, when a new generation will come which has not experienced life during the Covid-19 pandemic, make sure you all have good stories to tell them, stories of personal growth and responsibility, stories that you are proud of and they can learn from.

We all have our parts to play today in beating a global crisis. We all can make a difference, even within our own homes, by our positivity and productivity. Make sure the role you play is a significant one.

What to do in this lockdown

We all need to make a mental shift to fare and sail well through a time that we have never seen before. There is much that we can do with our time as we stay home with our family, we just need to develop a new mindset, try different ways of doing things and even do things we never thought we would do.

We all know what are some of the popular suggests that people resort to during a ‘staycation’ (a time when a person stays home during vacation), such as online lessons, games, reading, watching movies, playing board games, etc. But let us think out of the box and look at other things that can be done as we stay home and stay safe.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Get closer to your spiritual side

We all have a spiritual side, an inner voice that our conscience follows. This inner voice may in turn take guidance from religion or logic, but it tries to give us answers to our questions and shows us what to do.

We all can find this inner voice through reflection, mediation or prayers. And when we do any of these things, we will find peace and maybe even answers to all our questions and worries.

Whatever works for you, whether prayers or meditation, while maintaining social distancing and self-isolation, do it and you will find solace, peace and hope.

I always feel very light-hearted after praying, which can be simply a one-on-one kind of conversation as if talking to a parent, guide and the Creator who controls everything, or a prescribed prayer. Once done with that, I always feel lighter as I believe I have unburdened all my problems and I can relax that all will be taken care of by God.

Having so much free time is also a good time to learn whatever religious lessons, learning and reading you don’t get time to do otherwise all through the year.

Give space to everyone and yourself

With everyone inside the home, we are bound to bump into each other too often and step on many toes. Meaning soon everyone is going to get on to each other’s nerves as no one has much to do and has never been in this kind of situation before.

So it is important to give space to yourself and others. If someone is getting irritated, leave them alone and if feel you will snap at someone, just leave the room.

As the days pass, things will become easier as we all find our rhythm to pass our days with limited movement and interaction with the outside world.

If your parents are working from home, give them space to do their work. They are not home to keep you occupied and take care of your needs. They have responsibilities to fulfil and that too in newer ways that need time to adjust to.

It will also give you a great opportunity to understand what they do.

Set a schedule

Add meaning and substance to this unplanned vacation by giving it a routine to keep yourself mentally, emotionally and physically healthy.

This schedule should more or less be one that matches with that of other members of the house in terms of some basic tasks, such as bedtime, wakeup time, meal times, doing chores and leisure activities.

Being in sync will help adults run the house more smoothly and you will get fewer scoldings. Otherwise the house will seem like a mess all the time with unmade beds, a loaded dining table because not everyone is done with food and everyone following a different body clock.

Revive connections

This COVID-19 pandemic has turned back the clock to about a century in terms of family life. It has given us the chance to spend more time with family members than any of us can remember spending before. Maybe it was all nature’s way of reacting to the disconnection that had taken place with people we are living with, as we became more occupied with our online lives.

Including myself, we had all been spending too much time online, even when we were around our family and loved ones. We are still doing that now as we stay at home, but at least there is still much time leftover to interact and do things together without a screen taking up our attention. We had all been busy running in and out of the house for studies, tuitions, work, hangouts, activities and what not, with the result that we hardly had enough time to say more than ‘Hello” and “Goodbye” to the people we live with.

Sit together and chat, listen to what elders have to say, do fun activities together, play games or invent some of your own. This will also help lift everyone’s spirits and offer a healthy distraction from all the stressful news of tough times around the whole world.

Make personal growth a priority

Don’t just wait for this time to be over and when you can get back to living the life you were living. Make the life you are living right now worthwhile by improving yourself in some way.

Learn a new skill or overcome your weak areas. Make a plan to accomplish something every day and make sure to do it. What you do will depend on your interests but don’t let a day end without having done something you enjoy or can do better now.

Do cheerful things

Watch a nice movie or TV show. Or even documentaries that add to your knowledge and satisfy your curiosity. And of course there are all those DIY videos that teach you pretty awesome things for free.

These things, if done with others in the family, will lift everyone’s mood and make it easy to pass this difficult time.

Keep practising social distancing and good hygiene

Whatever the length of the stay at home or lockdown order may be where you live, keep practicing social distancing until everyone on the planet is free of this virus. And let the lessons you learn about germs, hygiene and health now r

Don’t take unnecessary risks and put everyone in trouble. You have to be wise for yourself and for others.

Keep inside your homes and keep safe!

Published in Dawn, Young World, March 28th, 2020