Absolutely off the charts / is this actually real? / wtaf? / am I in a film? / How?
There’s not a word strong enough to describe what’s happening in the world right now, but I’ve heard ‘unprecedented’ more this week than I ever have in my life.
No one can quite get a hold of the immensity of what’s going on.
But it’s here, in England we’re now finally on lockdown, like Austria, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Bavaria, Belgium, France and Tunisia – and many other countries across the world.
The global pandemic has reached such a level that now millions of people are only allowed to leave their homes for groceries and to walk the dog, or for ‘one exercise’.
– The Outside has never been so tempting
Anyone who said it as ‘just a flu’ (Trump) is having to eat their words, inside their house, at their own kitchen table.
Covid-19 is closing in on us.
Friends of friends, cousins of friends, housemates of friends are falling ill. Thankfully, none seriously as far as I know. But it’s been serious for over 16,000 across the globe, and there are going to be more.
Cancelled travel plans
My annoyance at cancelled trips is in the past, and I feel kinda douchey for moaning about them on social media just last week (Cornwall, Scilly Islands, Grenada). This shit has got real serious, real fast.
My brother living in Barcelona said we weren’t taking it seriously enough in England, as did my friend Dan in Portugal, and the people of Italy, who’ve now lost over 6000 people – a figure that’ll no doubt be higher by tomorrow.
And now Boris has grounded us.
Covid-19 has affected us all. Whether you’re one of the lucky ones that just has to worry about toilet paper or going for a run, or you’ve moved up the list to a lost job, reduced hours, a ruined pension, your health is compromised, or worse, a loved one has suffered.
I’ve seen Tweets wanting to hark back to the good old days where ‘all we worried about was Brexit’. All our hopes for the start of a new decade and 2020 are already written off.
I’ve been 99% self isolating for a week now – with just a bike ride to the beach and two trips to supermarkets in the past 7 days. Now though, as an asthmatic, I am IN.
I feel like I’m over the crying stage now – Bob Marley’s One Love on the radio got me right in the feels, as did all the unsold Mother’s Day presents in Tesco, next to the empty rows of fruit and veg – and now I’m onto acceptance and practicality.
Where can I get a job? What can I do for work? How can I stay sane? Have some sort of exercise?
New identities for all?
I read a really interesting Twitter thread the other day, which I can’t find now, by a psychologist. She said that in huge and sudden life changes like this it’s normal to feel like you’re losing your identity, and to panic. Office workers are now stay at home parents, tradespeople have nowhere to go, entrepreneurs have had their businesses whipped from under their feet, travel bloggers are now stuck at home cleaning and gardening…
She said it was ok to feel overwhelmed by this. The panic and need to adjust are unsettling and it will take time to get used to a new way of life. Change creates uncertainty which can move on to anxiety.
I’m definitely feeling lost.
I signed up to help with the relief efforts here in Portsmouth, but have since chickened out, because of the asthma and various respiratory issues I’ve had over the years. One of my friends with asthma has taken the difficult decision to leave his family home, and child, for the 12 weeks, as his partner works in the NHS – this was a wake up call for me.
Instead I decided the best I could do was stay out of the madness.
I’ve started many projects already, from painting the lounge to digging up the garden to cleaning every single thing in the kitchen – but haven’t found the headspace or focus to finish any.
Friends and readers keep telling me I need to do a ‘thing’ to keep people busy and interested – like Joe Wicks with his morning PE for kids. I’ve had a few ideas, but to be honest, I don’t feel I could sum up the enthusiasm. This is all about just keeping going, with no business I need to focus on income.
As we all do, I know so many people who’ve lost their jobs, two who’ve had to postpone their weddings, pregnant friends terrified of the birth in the next six weeks, and friends abroad worried about their relatives. People who’ve had epic plans for this year, but now, we’re all grounded.
I don’t want this blog post and update to be all doom and gloom though, despite the last 700 words.
Negativity, like viruses, is contagious.
But so is hope, and love, and joy.
This is it now. This is our lives.
We’ve gotta get through this, as the great Daniel Bedingfield once sang.
In all this misery, we absolutely have to find a mental space to move forward.
View this post on Instagram
When they gave me a mask and told me I HAD to wear it to and around the airport on my last day of my Japan press trip in January, I thought they were being excessive. Little did we know two months ago about how widely and crazily this was going to spread. Corona Virus is screwing us all. ? Personally, watching my page views reduce to nothing, the festivals I’ve paid for be cancelled, sponsored trips be ‘postponed’ and any plans I had to expand my work be halted, is painful. My blog has been my life and livelihood for almost ten years now. ❤️ And then I look to friends and colleagues. Ones who’ve built up amazing business over the last few years to follow their dreams. Blood, sweat, tears, savings, heart and energy have gone into them. Huge sacrifices. No one could’ve planned for this though and I don’t know who’ll be able to make it through. It’s heartbreaking to see friends going through this. ? But then more than careers, money and dreams, it’s health. Worrying about my parents, friends worrying about theirs, my pregnant friends – not being able to see people when they need you most, or you needing them. ? I don’t really have a positive thing to say now because the not knowing is so, so shit. My plan right now is to work as if I still have a job, as if I’m not just earning $5 a day, and as if it’s just another pyjama self employed day, not that Boris has told me to stay indoors. ?? I hope your brain is coping with this better than mine. #selfemployed #travelblogger #covid19 #coronavirus #freelancer #uktravelblogger #travelblogging #bloggingindustry #blogger
We can do this
We need to shut out the endless new stories we have no control over and focus on what we can manage in the here and now.
The longer future? No one knows.
The next three weeks? Stay inside, stay in touch with family and friends, and just get on with it.
I know for many of us it’ll be the longest we’ve spent away from our closest loved ones – me included.
I’ve made a plan though, and I wanted to share it.
7 Rules of Lockdown
1. Don’t be a dick
Same as the first rule of life: just don’t be a dick.
Only you know exactly what that means in your particular household.
2. Be kind
This means online and in the house. We’re all going through our own trials and problems right now and we don’t need anyone being mean or judgey to add to that. Do nice things for others, and everyone will be happier.
In this quarantine there’ll be people better off than you, and people worse, but the most ridiculous thing is to knock others down, or tell them they’re not allowed to feel how they do, because it’s worse for others. We all have our own battles and you can’t say one person’s feelings are more legitimate than another’s.
And don’t slag off how others are dealing with this crisis, we’re all getting through it in our own way.
3. Let it out
Use Whatsapp, or Facebook Messenger, or Zoom, or my new favourite – HouseParty – to talk to others. Don’t keep all your feelings in as the chances are your friends and family feel the same and want to talk too.
If you feel the need to cry, just do it.
Everyone is stuck at home looking for an outlet so this is an absolute golden time for communication online, and patching up any broken friendships or relationships. People are finally free to chat!
4. Keep busy
I know this depends on circumstances – I don’t have any kids so it’s easier for me to plan my days how I like.
I plan to do yoga, read books, update every one of the 800 posts on my blog, and do the approximately six courses I’ve bought over the years and never finished. I could make videos, I could work on how to get videos shown on YouTube, I could do some of the many ideas I have over the years, I could get on with my second blog. There’s so much I could do, I just need to get on with it.
I’m actually going to make myself a little schedule – coloured gel pens and all – to try and get some routine so I’m not just pointlessly scrolling. I’m someone who works best on deadlines, and right now I don’t have any.
Learn about a new destination?
5. Stay clean
This is your opportunity to really make the most of those Christmas presents you haven’t opened yet. I went to get something the other day and found a Joules pamper box thing my brother and sister-in-law got me for Christmas. I’ll be running a bath tonight and taking the time to enjoy each and every piece in there.
Also, the handwashing – but you know that already.
If you’re working from home for the first time, having a shower as soon as you wake up is a great way to start the day, rather than slobbing about in pyjamas. The cleaner, the better.
6. Go outside
BUT DON’T GO NEAR ANYONE.
I’m very lucky in that I have a garden, and live a short walk from a common, and from a beach. I plan to do 5000 steps a day, in the morning or evening, when everyone else is inside. We really need to go out and keep our Vitamin D topped up, and to keep those legs working.
Boris says we’re allowed out once a day, so go!
7. Stay positive
Whatever it takes to keep a positive mindset, do it.
Watch motivational videos, treat yourself online, make lovely dinners, eat Dairy Milk Buttons, laugh with friends, dance around the kitchen…
DO NOT spend all day looking at the news, especially if, like me, you tend to just read the headlines.
In these ‘unprecedented’ times we need to do what we can to get through it (so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else).
And if that means signing up to Disney Plus and eating chicken goujons and ketchup for lunch today, then so be it.
How to get through the quarantine
Our adventures and life are going to look very different for a while, but a version of normality will be back soon. What we value and what makes us happy could be changed forever but if possible, don’t worry about it now. We need to get through the next three weeks and focus on what we do have.
Right now I don’t have an income, but I do have my health, and that’s more important.
As long as I have that, and family and friends just a video call away, I’ll work it out, as will you.