What a week it’s been! The world is in a health crisis, the human race are collectively anxious about one thing, and the new media have gone a little bit mental. It’s probably best I don’t add up the hours I’ve spent on the day job, or the minutes I’ve found myself consuming BBC News. I had promised myself I’d write a non-weekly blog post or two, I’ve got a pile of them waiting, but words have been even more elusive this week than they were last week, so I failed on that one. I have, however, caught up on the washing (no mean feat!), ironed the shirts, done some trombone practice (yes, actual practice), got back into the habit of cooking properly at home, and done a bit of exercise. So not all bad…
Celebrating 70 Years
The biggest and most important thing that I’ve done this week is head back to Lincolnshire to celebrate my Dad’s 70th birthday. More than a little milestone, it was so nice to be a part of a surprise afternoon tea with some of our family and friends. A history lover, and a fan of toy soldiers – the minifigs kind that you paint yourself – my sister and I decided to get him something a little bit different for this special birthday, a replica Brown Bess musket. Thankfully it made him smile as much as we’d hoped it would.
The photo I’ve used for this week’s weekly blog header image is my dad in his natural habitat – on a hill, looking at the view, with a camera in hand. I’m always grateful for the person my Dad is, and for all the things he has taught me, especially to love the outdoors and to be kind to everyone I meet. Thanks Dad – and happy birthday x
Acknowledging the World Health Crisis
It would be remiss of me to post my weekly blog this week, which was always meant to be a place for me to talk about normal and everyday life, and not mention the current COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve been involved in discussions, planning and communications for more than a month now thanks to my day job, but this week I think we can all agree things have gotten a little bit more interesting. It’s no longer a thing that’s happening a long way away, no longer anything to do with where you have travelled from or who you’ve met, but now it’s something that is very much here, right on our doorstep, and has become very scary indeed. The media has whipped up something of a frenzy with its 24-hour breaking news, the supermarket shelves are bare thanks to panic buying, and our scientists, doctors and politicians are arguing over the best way to deal with the outbreak to give us all the best chance of beating it.
The fact is that none of us have done this before. Those of us who are charged with planning for various scenarios and communicating with others about those plans, our leaders who are making decisions based on scientific advice and the notion of what might be best for the country, even our health professionals won’t have dealt with this kind of infectious virus in these numbers until now. And as a result we’re all working our way through it as best we can, and that might show through the cracks. It’s hard not to be confused, worried, anxious, or even scared.
I’m no expert, I’m just a communicator who imagined being in the middle of this only as much as any of you. But there are a few things I’d like to think we can all do in this weird and tiring situation to help ourselves get through it:
- Don’t underestimate how the virus spreads, or how simple it could be to keep yourself safe. Be an excellent hand washer, keep your mobile phone clean, wipe down your computer keyboard, and be mindful of how your actions might affect others. While events are being cancelled left, right and centre, this is not a requirement here in the UK, and we are not being asked to stay away from family, friends, or not go to events and activities.
- Be kind. This includes looking out for your family, friends and neighbours by checking in on them regularly. It means following the advice and staying at home if you feel unwell, seeking medical help if you feel you need it (and not if you don’t…), and being a Good Samaritan to others who might need it. It also means curbing that feeling that you need to stock up on dried and tinned goods and only buying what you need, thus leaving plenty for others on the supermarket shelves. Kindness is so important at the moment.
- Only get your information from official channels, and try not to believe everything (or maybe even anything…) you see tweeted or posted on Facebook. That’s not to say that posts on social media are all lies, or that sharing opinions is bad, but it pays to be vigilant and check sources and official guidance before inadvertently spreading rumours or following random advice. If you’re in the UK like me, then start with the NHS website, along with the government’s Public Health site – these are updated regularly as advice changes.
- Shop local. This ongoing situation is going to be tough on everyone. And while large companies may struggle, it’s our local small businesses who will be hit the hardest. Buy your vegetables from your local greengrocer, your meat from your local butcher, and your coffee from your local independent café. Be mindful of where you buy your books and magazines from, and if you’re using periods of self-isolation and potential enforced social distancing as an opportunity to get crafty or similar, make it your aim to use locally sourced materials and equipment if you can. It isn’t always possible, but even if you have to shop online you can generally find products and services that are not that far from you who would appreciate the business at the moment.
- Live your life and look after yourself. It’s fair to call coronavirus a crisis, it is all kinds of horrendous, and looks like it will only get worse before it gets better. Please, then, be careful with your mental and physical health; don’t forget to eat your greens and drink plenty of water, and find ways to give your mind a break from the monotony of constant news. If you can’t visit your family and friends, call them up, use facetime or Skype, set up a family WhatsApp group and bombard them with random memes and silly gifs – loneliness can creep up without us realising and it won’t take long for some to feel completely disconnected. Find something that’s not the news to watch on the television (I’m planning to pre-order Disney+…), learn a new skill, pick up an old lost hobby, and try not to overthink every minute detail of what’s going on around you. Converse with people on social media, comment on people’s blogs, share photos that make you smile, and don’t be afraid to dream about adventures you’ll go on when this is all over. Until you are told you must distance yourselves from others, continue to live your life outdoors and make memories – the longer this goes on the harder it will get, so let’s keep on keeping on for the time being.
There are lots of other hints and tips I’m sure, suggested ways to cope with potential social distancing or illness, and I’d be happy to hear yours in the comments below. We’ve absolutely no idea how this is all going to play out over the next few weeks or months, but we can at least control how we deal with it all on a personal level. I hope with all hope that herd immunity works, that we will see a light at the end of the tunnel very soon, and that history will look back on this as the time the world overreacted. I’ll be praying for that, anyway.
This Week’s Question
With my eyes rolling at those ransacking the supermarkets and panic buying, I have been wondering…
If you were to stock up on one thing you couldn’t do without for period of quarantine, what would it be?
I’m not expecting particularly sensible answers here. I’m assuming you already have a spare room full of toilet paper, paracetamol, dried pasta, baked beans and tinned tomatoes. But what else? I think I would want to make sure I had tea bags, decent chocolate, cheese, frozen grapes (like little natural Haribo…), and crisps. My quarantine shop would not be a healthy one!
If you enjoyed reading this blog, if you think my weekly blog series is a good idea, and especially if you got to the end of this episode, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. And I mustn’t forget the vloggers’ catchphrase – please like and subscribe for more posts like this in the future! Come on by next Sunday at 6pm (ish!!!) for the next in the series.
Next week’s weekly blog will be in the form of a Q&A, the idea being that you ask me some questions and I answer them. You can reply to my posts over on twitter and Instagram stories, or feel free to add your questions down in the comments below as well.