Living through a global pandemic is an incredibly strange and unfamiliar experience for us all and is likely to be the first situation of its kind that you or any of your family have experienced. Unfortunately, the world is incredibly unpredictable, and nobody could see this coming a year ago. For this reason, we have been harder hit since there was no way of preparing for it or mitigating against its effects.
Having experienced the worst of the virus, there are a lot of lessons we can learn from the previous couple of months, and it is important that we reflect on these and learn from them for the future.
Protecting and Prioritizing the Vulnerable Population
It is necessary that we try our best to collectively protect those who are the most vulnerable to the virus since these will be the people who are most anxious about life adjusting back to normal. The virus also poses a far greater danger to them than to other members of society who are not considered vulnerable. ‘Vulnerable populations’ are generally considered as those who are old or those who have underlying health conditions. Both of these groups are more susceptible to catching the virus in the first place and are also more vulnerable to the effects of it, which are likely to be more severe.
If you have friends or family members who fit into this category, it is important that you take extra precautions when around them. For instance, if you have any symptoms at all, do not visit them until you know that you have been tested for the virus. Where possible, meet with them in outdoor spaces where it is less likely that the virus will be spread between people, and if this is not possible, then try to wear a mask where it is appropriate.
When passing older people in public, it is important to respect social distancing rules and try and avoid coming close to them where possible. If on the street, it is a good idea to try and cross to the other side. This may seem dramatic, but you are unaware of how vulnerable that individual may be, so it is always good to be on the safe side.
Following Government Guidelines
Government guidelines around COVID-19 are put in place for a reason and are there to help prevent another spike in the virus. It is important that you follow these and do not risk spreading the virus further. The guidelines present the legal aspect of the virus and how the law views it, but on top of this, you should be making your own risk assessments based on your personal situation. For instance, if the government permits you to see six different people but you are in a ‘vulnerable’ category, it is probably best to reduce this. Guidelines are set out for the nation as a whole rather than taking into account the situation of individuals, so it is up to you to make sure that you are being sensible and keeping your loved ones protected.
Supporting Local Businesses
Unfortunately, the effect of COVID-19 on people’s health is not the only downside to the virus. As a result of the lockdown and the temporary shutting of many businesses, the economy is also seeing the harsh effects. Wherever you can, it is good to try and support local businesses in your area, since these will have been affected the most during the pandemic. Many restaurants are now open again, for either dining in or takeout, and you should consider supporting them if you can, in order to help them boost sales back up after the temporary crash.
Many people will have saved money during lockdown through living a relatively simplistic day to day lifestyle, so think of it as spending some of your savings if you are in a financial position that permits you to do so.
Thinking About the Mental Health of Your Loved Ones
As well as the physical effects of the virus, it has had mental impacts on many people, particularly those who do not live with family. Being separated from everyone you hold dear to you can be really upsetting and lonely, so ensure that you are checking in regularly on family and friends.
Luckily, we are living in an age where access to technology and social media is really great and widely available, and there are many ways you can connect online. Zoom calls or Facetime feel much more personal than speaking over the phone and this will make the distance that little bit easier. You can also play online games with one another, such as Scrabble, which can be an ideal way to keep you both entertained.
Where possible and suitable, you could try and visit friends or family, even if this is just briefly. If either you or they fit into the vulnerable categories, consider going for a walk or playing a game like tennis, both of which allow you to social distance.
Keeping Up Personal Hygiene Levels
Having become used to life in a pandemic, it can be easy to forget to keep up the personal hygiene levels that were recommended at the beginning of the lockdown. These include washing your hands regularly, sanitizing them when out and about and wearing a face mask.
Since we will be wearing facemasks in public spaces for the foreseeable future, it is really worthwhile to invest in a good quality, reusable face mask against COVID 19. These are far more effective than disposable ones and will ensure better protection for you as well as minimizing the risk of you spreading the virus. It is also far better for the environment to wear a reusable facemask since it avoids throwing away material and can simply be washed when it has been worn a couple of times.
Finding a New Hobby
With the future being unpredictable in terms of whether we will be faced with a second lockdown, the best thing to do to prepare is to find a new hobby that you can do straight from your home. This could be drawing, sewing, writing, photography, or whatever your home permits you to do. It is important that we try to enjoy life in all of its forms, whether this is going out and living normally or staying at home and having to occupy ourselves.
Both socially and economically, COVID-19 has effects on all aspects of society and it is to a large extent out of our control. However, there are multiple things that you can do on an individual level to minimize its effects on your physical and mental health, as well as on the economy. The main thing to do is to try and remain positive, which can be difficult when we are faced with such a situation. However, this can be used as a time for reflection and a time to appreciate your loved ones, even via the telephone.