There’s little else on most peoples’ minds these days besides the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in the UK, we’re in lockdown as Boris Johnson announced a series of strict new measures to fight the outbreak declaring it a “moment of national emergency” asking us all to stay at home.
There’s no doubt about it; this pandemic is worrying, very worrying, especially for older people and for those with a compromised immune system. Thousands of people are dying, it’s awful. The financial impact is unprecedented too; from big businesses to the local hairdresser around the corner, companies are collapsing day by day. As Larry Elliott for the Guardian writes, “Around a third of workers in the UK have jobs in the sectors most affected by the pandemic: retail, restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels, cinemas, theatres, gyms, sport – and they are all closed for business, possibly for months to come.”
There’s NHS doctors exhausted and bruised from wearing their protective masks all day, supermarket workers facing abuse from irate customers and parents of special needs pupils left wondering if school staying open for them really is the safest option. We are, every single one of us, from celebrity actors and Prince Charles to your best friend’s uncle and sister’s sister, affected by coronavirus.
There’s NHS doctors exhausted and bruised from wearing their protective masks all day, supermarket workers facing abuse from irate customers and parents of special needs pupils left wondering if school staying open for them really is the safest option.
And whilst we’ve seen this anxiety and fear manifest itself in selfish, heartless ways with feuds over pasta and racist attacks, there are nevertheless unbelievably wonderful shows of kindness and gestures of goodwill ripping through the country. It’s honestly staggering and so heart-warming. Just a small, simple example from our side; on Monday morning I was getting the kids out the car and could see a lady hovering beside the car – albeit at a safe distance. Then I heard a quiet voice, “hello there.” We’d often seen each other from across the road coming in or leaving our houses but we’d never speak. And yet, here she was, the introverted lady from across the road, initiating a conversation and asking how we all were.
And now we have a street whatsapp group of over 55 of us, asking each other who wants some extra rye bread and sharing pictures of our kids’ rainbows. We drop round homemade treats to our local friends, write letters to school buddies and we’re actually connecting to our much loved village in some really wonderful, profound ways. There’s something actually a little bit magical about these connections being sparked and deepened.
And now we have a street whatsapp group of over 55 of us, asking each other who wants some extra rye bread and sharing pictures of their rainbows – and there’s something so so magical about these new connections being sparked.
Here’s 10 positive ways we’re thinking and acting with more calmness, kindness, and gratitude than ever before since the pandemic hit:
1.We’re volunteering more than ever – on Tuesday night the Government launched the NHS Volunteer Responders team to provide care or to help a vulnerable person – more than 240,000 people have already signed up (myself included). Besides that, more than 1,000 other community volunteer groups have also been set up.
2. We’re shopping locally and supporting small businesses – with supermarket shelves emptying, we’re turning to our local shops, little and often
3. We’re donating – from football teams to individuals (this man donated more than 1,000 bottles of hand sanitiser to homeless and vulnerable people), we’re becoming a way more generous bunch!
4. We’re connecting with our loved ones – yes we miss our friends and family a bunch but we’re kind of more in contact than ever. Also, totally obsessed with this app
5. We’re getting educated – museums, galleries and landmarks are offering virtual tours meaning a whole new potential world of education for so many of us (and our kids)
6. We’re supporting vulnerable members of society, in particular the elderly – shops are holding back items for them, taking their shopping lists or holding special early opening hours
7. We’re finding new levels of appreciation for ‘keyworkers’ in our country – from teachers to NHS workers to supermarket cashiers, these are workers who keep the country going, who are far too often taken for granted and whose services we are learning to be truly grateful for
8. We’re slowing the freak down- lock down has forced us to cancel everything, stay indoors and do a whole lot less
9. We’re getting creative and sorting those jobs – being stuck at home for weeks has meant we can finally tackle those DIY and gardening chores we’ve been meaning to do since 2017
10. We’re (finally) giving the environment a helping hand – the air above China has cleaned up faster than ever before in living memory, and cities in the UK are showing similar reductions
Oh and 11. Because more or less we’re not stepping foot over the threshold, we’re relaxing the heck out about our appearance – and that feels good. Anyone else totally lost their hairbrush?
So, though we might not know what day of the week it is or feel like we’re struggling to make our new reality work, it does feel like we might be turning in to a slightly kinder lot. What small acts of calmness, kindness and gratitude have you seen close to you?