If you’re reading this article, there’s very little chance that you’re not familiar with the name in the title. This dreaded virus has taken the world by storm and has yet to show signs of slowing down. Not since WWII has the world found itself globally united in such a catastrophe.
At the end of WWI, the Spanish flu emerged and would claim in its wake an estimated 17-50 million lives having infected 500 million over the course of two years. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison compared the coronavirus to it stating “This is a once-in-100 year type event”.
There has been a wide range of reactions towards this pandemic. It’s been met with fear and panic, but also apathy in some parts. If you log onto any of your social media platforms, you will find the recent count of infected cases and deaths immediately followed by the latest TikTok. You’ll find news of people losing their jobs, and a trending meme, side by side.
One thing for certain is, things will not be the same after this virus is finally gone. Many questions will be raised about healthcare, travel and a plethora of arguments. Whether scared or trying to find the humor in it all, everyone is looking for hope and for what all of this means.
Hope. Something to look forward to. When facing a crisis, problem solving steps include developing alternatives. By generating new ideas, one hopes to overcome the problem at hand. But what happens when the problem is out of your hands? Apart from the responsibility we all carry to minimize the devastating spread of this disease, what else?
At this point, it is often a normal response to look for the silver lining. The bright side of things where you find that elusive element, hope. And herein lies the crux of this article. As the news becomes gloomier, and as governments warn us more and more, is there still room for optimism?
There have been attempts to reach such a belief. Satellite images showing a decreased carbon footprint, clean water flowing through cities and animal life is thriving. Yet, an environmentalist might argue that this is temporary. So again we ask, where’s the hope.
One of the first things everyone began noticing since the pandemic started, was their own selves’ response to the ongoing events. In our fast-paced lives, being quarantined for weeks is not something we imagined or were remotely familiar with.
Many papers and studies have been published recently addressing boredom. They exhibited the directly proportional relation between the increase in ways to escape boredom and ironically, boredom. This is more prominent in younger generations but with quarantines and curfews, this issue reaches across all generations.
We were accustomed to fighting boredom, each in their own way. One might go a step further and say it wasn’t just about escaping boredom. We continuously look for ways to sustain an elated and entertained mood. It might be the simplest of things in your daily life, but when added all together make for one big problem.
Your favorite coffee place around the corner, that Thursday night party or hanging with the boys. We’ve been tuning our minds to constantly receive good mood boosters. From that very specific coffee blend to the movie you were gonna see with your friends. Between work, friends, and hours on end spent shifting between our phones and TVs, it was like we were being primed to suffer from this pandemic not only health wise or economically, but psychologically.
In her recent TED talk two years ago, Manoush Zomorodi talks about how our brains are wired to come up with our most innovative and insightful thoughts during boredom. However, because of our modern culture, we’re doing everything we can to avoid those moments of boredom. As such, we’re losing some of our most crucial and key characteristics; creativity and self-reflection.
According to WHO statistics, over 264 million people worldwide are affected by depression. Stress is rising globally as a health crisis and in a study conducted across 15 countries in 1,000 corporations, it was found that 6 in 10 workers suffer from stress.
While you might think checking your phone, logging onto Facebook or Instagram might distract you from your stress or anxiety, it only hampers you. Instead of giving yourself a much-needed rest, not just sleep, you flood your brain with distractions that make it impossible to allow your thoughts and emotions to settle down and take their natural course. It is why somehow distance themselves from social media call it a cleanse.
Social media itself is not the problem, nor is it the only form of distraction, as clearly shown in the recent wave of bleakness caused by self-isolation.
It is normal to miss social interactions, after all we are relational beings.
Between our children, our jobs, and global unrest, we are always pushed in a corner. And unfortunately, mood boosters don’t relieve this stress. Nor does a good night’s sleep clears it up.
There is nothing to rejoice about in this pandemic. If there is one positive thing that COVID-19 might have given us, it is time.
Time to reflect, to heal and recuperate.
Maybe we weren’t spending enough times with our families. Perhaps we didn’t have the time to re-evaluate our priorities before. How could we know that we were working too much if not now? Perchance, could we sit back and think back, instead of forward?
Hope. We hope that it is feasible that we come out of this healthier than before, not just virus free, but stress free. Not just germ free, but free from that constant weight on our shoulders.
Now is the chance to reset our values. Life will always deal us with nasty blows. It’s only fair to try and lessen the load. Give yourself a fighting chance by actually being bored! Let your brain work its way around. Reflect calmly on your thoughts, feelings and decisions.
Catch a break from the hectic rhythm. The cycle has been broken, so take advantage. Take a deep breath, and remember, wash your hands always.