The Silver Linings In Social Distancing

If one chooses to look beyond the gloomy COVID-19 headlines and misstate social media stories, it's not impossible to see a silver lining of possibilities.
The Silver Linings In Social Distancing
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We have a few more weeks of good climate for all things outdoors in the UAE (and most of the Middle East), but owing to the coronavirus outbreak, everything from beachside walks to barbecues and camping have come to an abrupt halt. Celebrations have been called off, travels for both business and holidays have been cancelled, and people have foregone their offices to work from home instead.

The world is undergoing extraordinary circumstances with the COVID-19 pandemic with the sole solution to prevent the virus’ spread, at least for now, being self-isolation and social distancing. Social distancing without exception has become key for our safety and that of others; however, being social animals, one can’t blame individuals who could be feeling a bit antsy during this time of mandatory physical distancing.

Yes, the clouds are dark and pregnant with uncertainty about when things will be back to normal. However, if one chooses to look beyond the gloomy COVID-19 headlines and misstate social media stories, it’s not impossible to see a silver lining of possibilities. Here are a few that I’ve personally kept an eye out for:

1. Gratitude When was the last time you felt grateful when getting coffee to go? When stepping into the office on a Sunday morning? Team lunch on Thursday, a trip to the salon, a walk in the park, working out at the gym? There are so many little things that all of us take for granted. Now when we are indoors and missing it, maybe take a moment to feel grateful for it. A simple, silent thank you. Go on, try it. 

2. Recharge relationships For people who have been complaining about lack of time to spend with their spouse and/or children, now is that time you have been asking for. Couples now have the chance to dedicate time for small things like making a meal together, exploring a home workout routine, or setting aside some time each day to discuss that migration plan, or even simply to read together. Working from home is an opportunity for couples who are otherwise caught in the work and commute rut to make time for each other. Having said that, do remember to give each other some space. Everyone deserves some me time. As for children, it’s good to note what Helen Pearson, science journalist and author of The Life Project, said in her TED talk: “In one study, children whose parents were reading to them daily when they were five, and then showing an interest in their education at the age of 10, were significantly less likely to be in poverty at the age of 30, than those whose parents weren’t doing those things.”

3. Fitness Worry not if you don't have a gym at home. Fitness establishments in the UAE are doing a great job of providing online workout classes that require no equipment. Some for a nominal fee, and there are quite a few that are free of cost. Also, remember all those saved home workout videos on YouTube? Right now is absolutely the right time to hit play and follow. Boosting immunity through improved fitness during this COVID-19 climate will only improve your chances of avoiding the disease.

4. Conquer that clutter Netflix binging versus tidying your space? Netflix is always going to be there, but is there a solid excuse to not have a house or home office that sparks joy? There will never be the right day and enough time to clear all that clutter, but the sense of accomplishment post some KonMari magic at your home or workspace is going to be priceless.

5. Build a new routine Yes, we are all working from home, but if work and Netflix are all that one is doing all day, then the days spent in isolation are going to just fuse into each other, and get a bit intolerable. Set a routine, and try to stick to it. Allocate some time for fitness or meditation, to read, to learn a new skill, to prepare a meal, or do some research for that migration plan perhaps. This is an opportunity to feel good about accomplishing small tasks throughout the day, instead of feeling relieved for jumping out of bed and making it to office in the nick of time.

6. Dress for success Thanks to us working from home, dressing down is now not limited to Casual Thursdays. But having your eat, pray, love, and work moments all happen in the same space can make it hard to psychologically differentiate as to what zone you need to be in. Changing into your work attire during those work hours (even when at home) does not only help in getting things done, but also helps in knowing when to stop working once you change out of them.

With a little bit of optimism and the will to not be overwhelmed by the pandemic, I am certain that all of us come out of this phase feeling renewed, recharged and ready for the world post COVID-19.

Related: Going The Distance: Why Remote Working Is The Key To A Flexible Future

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