Man, how to run my life… while in quarantine?

We live in curious times… Just a few months ago, a situation like this would be unimaginable, as in the minds of the Westerners pandemics were a relicts of the past, just like war and lack of drinking water. So… how to navigate this new reality?

11.03.2020, the day of the shutdown

The SARS-CoV-2 virus was originally a pathogen that caused sickness in wild animals, mostly bats. The symptoms in animals aren’t usually very acute – you could compare it to a common cold with mostly respiratory symptoms. But viruses mutate quickly, so CoV soon became able to infect people. Frankly, it’s not the first animal virus we have to struggle with.

As we can learn from history, eating exotic animals – especially untested ones – is not the best idea in the human history. Aside from coronavirus, this penchant for exotic meats gave us HIV, as well as a list of other more or less dangerous illnesses.

Taking into account the fact that no one expected the situation to escalate so fast, it was shockingly easy for the virus to spread. It was all over Europe within a mere week, which isn’t all that surprising, considering the open borders. What is surprising, though, is that the situation in Italy had to get really dramatic for the other countries to take measures against spreading of the virus. And it’s still not true everywhere – in Turkmenistan, a country that isn’t exactly known for the freedom of speech, the government officially says… that there’s no virus. Which in turn means that even after the quarantine is lifted in Europe, there still will be places where the virus is running rampant due to the flippant or outright ignorant attitude of the governments.

So we can expect the virus to make comebacks in the future, which means… well, more quarantine.

Stuck at home, but now what?

It’s no secret that the people who are handling this situation the best are the ones that spend a lot of time anyway. People working from home, stay-at-home parents of small children, introverts.

If someone was used to going out all the time, visiting clubs, bars and cafes can suddenly discover, that… they don’t know what to do. They simply weren’t used to this. People like this reported worse moods, anxious and depressing thoughts – they suddenly found themselves in a situation they were not ready for.

So how do you handle loneliness? Unfortunately there’s no other way than to seek alternative ways to fill up your afternoons. Fortunately, this quarantine caught us in the age, when internet is common and fast, unlike it was 20 or 30 years ago. You can always talk to your friends on Messenger or Skype, work through Zoom, read books, study. What’s more, museums began to share their collections online, and along with them operas and Broadway musicals. There’s no shortage of things to do.

The mass home office.

Coronavirus managed to prove one thing – companies that insisted their work cannot be done remotely were definitely twisting the truth a lil bit. Now whoever can, works from home.

Of course, platforms that exist to enable remote work have been out there for years. Zoom, Google Hangouts – both sites have the option to not only hold a videoconference, but also to share screens. Aside from that, the option to share a screen has been a part of the operation systems of almost all new computers, which makes things easier whenever teamwork is required.

Even organizing work isn’t too hard to handle. Companies often use systems dedicated to count the work time. Of course, in the case of home office overseeing the work is a little more complicated, especially considering the fact that almost every corporate employee knows the trick with putting a clock under the mouse to cheat the activity trackers. But if someone cares more about a job being done rather than holding employees accountable for every toilet break, sites like Slack, Trello or Monday help with managing projects.

The trouble with working from home is less about the proper tools and more about having to implement them very suddenly. The bigger the corporation, the harder it is to change something on a short notice, as it causes a chaos in communication. It’s the chaos we were struggling with at the beginning of quarantine and it’s possible it’ll last until the very end due to the uncertain situation we found ourselves in.

What about after-work activities?

I already mentioned several things you can do to keep yourself occupied at home. Many people forget how important it is to move, so aside from reading or watching Netflix all the time it’s important to get a healthy dose of daily exercise.

Those of us who used to frequent the gym might have a hard time switching to working out at home. But the truth is, you can exercise anywhere, all you need is a good outfit and solid shoes. It’s worth to do at least 15 minutes of cardio a week and double that amount for other exercises. You can start with exercises that use your own weight to substitute weights.

But strength training isn’t all you can do in quarantine, and the current situation is perfect for catching up on our reading and TV shows. I definitely recommend buying an e-book reader, which became my most-used gadget since the bookstores closed.

The quarantine also caused many online service providers to give their clients some bonuses, i.e. Udemy offered a lot of free courses that you can sign up for completely free of charge. You can also get ballets, operas and concerts for free, although they usually have some time limits or regional blocks.

Ok, but there are some upsides.

One advantage of the current situation is that it’s a great opportunity to step back and make some positive changes in your life. As in the case of most tragedies that affect the society at a large scale, there is a need for empathy and unity. That’s why we see so many aid initiatives, sewing facemasks, volunteering to help the old and vulnerable.

Perhaps quarantine and isolation will cause new work systems to be implemented in sectors that were previously in opposition to remote work. For many workers it would mean an additional hour of sleep, which – according to the statistics – we don’t get enough of. I’m sure many people will switch to home office even after the quarantine is over.

Additionally, we finally have an occasion to spend some time with the family and do some of the things we wanted to do, but never got around to. I don’t just mean consuming culture, but most of all self-improvement, developing relationships with others, trying new things.

And finally, the quarantine causes it to be a little cleaner outside, as there are less people to litter and poison the air with fumes. We don’t know for sure just how much the current situation is actually affecting the environment – maybe the overwhelming amount of delivery food coupons will mean the situation is not that much better, but nevertheless, air pollution indicator look better than they have in years.

There’s just one last question left – will we return to the “normal” from before the quarantine, or will our reality be changed permanently? It’s hard to say. Surely, most people will try to get back to normal, but new sanitary restrictions, economic recession and the necessity to introduce new technology in many parts of life will make this choice a little less obvious than some would expect.

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