Making the most out of a strange situation
Positive things about the COVID-19 shutdown
Being forced to take a break from the modern rat race doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There are some great opportunities not usually afforded by the demanding schedules our jobs put on us. Here are a few good things about the shutdown:
People are spending more time with family.
Money, resources and favors are important, but the most important gesture we can really make to each other is to invest our time and attention. The rat race doesn’t allow us an ideal amount of time to spend with family. Many modern families are dual-income, and many people regularly travel for work. Workweeks longer than 40 hours are common. At present, most of us don’t even have the option to go to work. This gives us precious time to spend with precious people.
People are spending more time at home.
Home and family are where we develop our sense of security. Spending time within this environment is valuable, especially if you spend that time cultivating said environment to be a more comfortable and useful space. Take advantage of it while you can; enjoy it, and do what you can to make it a better place to retreat to and unite with family.
Peace and quiet like this is usually hard to come by.
Even for those who can work from home, no commute is required and there’s not the pressure and general busy-ness of your regular workspace. No traffic, no noise, no meetings, no crowds. Trips to the park and the grocery store are relatively quiet and peaceful. Being outside, in general, is much quieter without the sound of traffic. Now is a rare opportunity to really listen to the sounds of the natural environment outside our door and contemplate how important the rat race really is.
Awareness of how reliant we are on the modern supply chain --- and time to become more self reliant.
Times like these illustrate for us just how out of luck we would be if the modern supply chain broke down on us. People are stockpiling, and the shelves in grocery stores are actually bare at times. Now that we’re forced to consider it, being so reliant on food to just appear in the store space is a perilous situation to be in. Luckily, there’s plenty of time now to plant some crops or procure livestock to strengthen your sense of security.
Opportunities to do miscellaneous other things that you wouldn’t normally have time to do.
Learn a new skill you’ve always wanted to learn, consider a new career, or consider a new approach to this experience we call life.
Taking advantage of rare opportunities Invest more time into strengthening the relationships that sustain you
Settle old disputes, catch up with old friends, tell somebody what they mean to you, and get closer to the most important people in your life. This time can be used to improve your support circle.
Invest time into your home or office.
Fine tune your environment for optimal flow. Build some new racks or shelves for organization. Take some cues from Six Sigma and lean philosophy on how to optimize your workspace. The power of having a dedicated place for everything, and having everything in its place, cannot be overstated. You could take this time to inventory your stuff, and get rid of old and no-longer-used junk. If you get rid of everything you don’t love, you’ll have only things you do love. Do you really have room for anything else?
Be resourceful and adventurous.
Visit any parks that are open, go on a hike, plant a garden. Learn a new skill, like altering your own clothes, speaking a new language, welding, wood carving, or playing an instrument.Surely, there’s something you’ve wanted to do for a long time, but its too much too take on when you’re working all the time. The pursuit of a new skill, in which you have 100% creative control and no deadlines to meet, is a new lease on life --- a large dose of novelty injected into your existence. So immerse yourself in something that will transform you as a person, rather than maintaining tired old patterns.
How not to make the most of it
Worrying and doing things that feed worry.
Stress and fear keep us in fight-or-flight mode, which keeps cortisol levels high. Cortisol actually suppresses the immune system. You’ve experienced this first hand if you’ve ever been prescribed prednisone (which is essentially synthetic cortisol) to combat swelling or inflammation (which is an immune response --- a symptom, rather than the condition).If you’re being responsible and safe, there’s no reason to worry. The rest of life, as always, is out of our control. Tuning in to the news once a day is probably enough to stay updated. More than that is just keeping your thoughts needlessly trained on the negative aspects of this event.
Never going outside.
We need fresh air and Vitamin D, which we get from sunlight. During these months in Western Washington, Vitamin D is already a scarce commodity. Vitamin D deprivation leads to depression and other ailments, and those who are sunlight-deprived are more likely to get sick.
Additionally, the activities that go along with being indoors are typically more sedentary and less stimulating. We need every edge we can get to make sure we stay healthy right now.
Increasing your media and social media consumption.
That screen time has correlations with health problems is no secret. This extends beyond obesity,though. Whether its the resulting sedentary behavior, or a direct effect of media itself, a correlation exists between screen time and both anxiety and depression. See here and here, for example.
You don’t need us to tell you this, as its is fairly self evident, and has been the conventional wisdom for some time. What you might need is a reminder. Just like a drug, media consumption offers us highly accessible stimulation for very little work, so it can be hard to unplug. But no matter how strong the FOMO gets, you’re always healthier for decreasing your media and social media consumption
Getting into pointless debates with strangers about politics on social media.
How do you know when a debate is pointless? Productive debate is an exercise in testing your ideas against the (valuable) perspective of people who don’t think like you. Nowadays, especially online,political debate commonly takes the form of a struggle to earn a technical victory, as scored by humiliating your opponent for being intellectually and morally inferior.
You know a debate is pointless when insults fly. The productive debate is over, and its not coming back. When somebody’s insulting you, its because they don’t have something intelligent and/or useful to support their claims with. Engaging with such nonsense is only going to make you feel more hostile towards others, during a time when we’re already isolated from the world at large. You’ll feel much better if you extract yourself from these situations without a word and go in search of useful and credible information.
Blaming somebody for the Corona virus pandemic.
Let’s do ourselves a huge favor and be realistic: we really have no idea what happened. All of the information we get nowadays is varying degrees of unreliable. The real kicker is that there’s no way to ever really know how reliable said info is.We don’t know who to blame, so the healthiest course is to simply act responsibly, take care of ourselves, and embrace the advantages that come with the strange situation we’re in. We might never see anything like this again.