6 Life Lessons We Learned From The COVID-19 Outbreak
Can you believe it’s been almost 2 whole months since Malaysia has been put into partial lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak? It’s crazy to think that we’ve been sequestered away in the safety of our homes and cut off from society; save for social media for such a long period of time. The COVID-19 situation has been a hugely shocking and disruptive time for all of us and suffices to say, we won’t soon be forgetting it! It will probably even go down in history as a significant world event (and will probably have a few Hollywood movie adaptations- just saying).
But over these past few weeks of introspection, there are admittedly quite a few things that we’ve learnt during the RMO that we should continue to practice once the lockdown period has finally lifted; lessons that should be remembered and still be put into practice so that we don’t ever take things for granted.
Treasure Your Bonds
During the RMO, we believe quite a few people had the startling realisation that money isn’t everything. That’s not to say that money is not important or life saving/changing. Instead, it just ranks a lower when you compare it to things like our personal health or the health of our loved ones. Because let’s face it, due to the virus outbreak, a lot of us will lose out financially and our economy is or will be suffering for a time.
But at the end of the day, we as humans will get through this. After all, this isn’t the first disaster that humanity has experienced (and probably won’t be the last). We’ve always managed to rebuild and pull through things together because the fact of the matter is, people are smart, resilient, creative and innovative. As long as we stick together, we can do anything.
Your Mental Health Matters
In addition, we should also be putting more value not only to our physical health but to our mental health as well. Even as we strive towards achieving our material goals, we need to consider the worst-case scenario; that is after the lockdown period has ended, everyone you know will be placed on varying scales of hardship. Beyond stresses inherent in the illness itself, mass home-confinement directives (including stay-at-home orders, quarantine, and isolation) are new to Malaysians and raise a concern about how people will react individually and collectively.
Specific stressors include the greater duration of confinement, having inadequate supplies, difficulty securing medical care and medications, and resulting financial losses. It’s going to take all the support and mental fortitude a person could get to figure things out and get back on track – which is why people should feel free to reach out to loved ones or seek aid from medical professionals if the needs arise; because it’s so easy to spiral into a bad place – mentally.
Be Vigilant With Illnesses
You know that one saying; ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’? That proverb seems to be a shining beacon as we all stock up on tissues, wet wipes, hand sanitizers, disinfectant sprays, soaps and other types of household cleaning paraphernalia in an effort to curb the spreads of germs; something more than a few of us had been guiltily neglecting before the pandemic outbreak got into full swing.
Before the coronavirus, there were every day, ‘good’ people everywhere (you can name a few of them off the top of your head – let’s be honest) who went out or went to work when they were sick. Who would tell you when you met up that they’re at the tail end of a horrible cold but to ‘not worry about it’. The people who would turn up for work with the flu – prioritising their image of being a ‘productivity hero’ as opposed to giving consideration to the health of their colleagues. Those who would be coughing and spluttering at the shops, spitting out globs of loogies in the street and generally being very gross.
Now that there is a pandemic going on that we have yet to find a vaccine for, most of us are suddenly doing everything we can to protect ourselves, our loved ones and the people in our communities. We are remembering to:
- Better our hygiene.
- Self-isolate when unwell.
- Thinking a lot more about our exposure.
- Be careful about where we go.
And most of all, we are finding our voices when we want someone to keep their distance (rather than just sitting there feeling awkward and uneasy about someone’s reckless decisions). Hopefully, once a vaccine is found, we’ll remember to keep just as vigilant when it comes to the flu, common colds and other contagious illnesses.
WFH Should Remain An Option For Many
For some, one of the unexpected boons that came out of being stuck at home due to the RMO is the fact that they were able to try out working remotely from home (WFH). Even the illustrious TIME magazine has dubbed this period as “the world’s largest work-from-home experiment.” From web developers to social media managers, graphic designers and call centres, people are discovering that they can effectively and efficiently carry out their jobs remotely.
Admittedly, working from home is a dream that many people harbour due to various reasons – from minimising distractions to increasing the time spent focused on a project. Thanks to modern technology (and the partial lockdown due to the pandemic, funnily enough), that dream is coming true for more people than ever. Once the virus outbreak ends and the RMO is lifted, it might be worth considering having a chat with your superiors about the possibilities of continuing the work-from-home system whenever necessary in order to promote work-life balance.
The Internet Should Be A Basic Right
Yes, you did not read that wrong. After spending over 50 days at home, you’ve come to realise just how integral a part the internet plays in keeping us sane and connected to the outside world. According to a study done by the University of Birmingham, the right to Internet access (also known as the right to broadband), should be considered a human right.
“Internet access is no luxury, but instead a moral human right and everyone should have unmonitored and uncensored access to this global medium—provided free of charge for those unable to afford it,” – Dr. Reglitz.
People unable to get online—particularly in developing countries—lack meaningful ways to influence the global players shaping their everyday lives. Additionally, during these turbulent times, it is especially important for people to be able to get in contact with their loved ones, friends and work from home if necessary. With the RMO in place, the one sure-fire way to do that is through (you guessed it!) the internet.
Dr. Reglitz also added that the human right to internet access was similar to the global right to health – which cannot require globally the highest possible medical treatment, as some parts of the world are too poor to provide such services and thus would face impossible demands. Similar to how basic medical needs are still provided to poorer regions before they work towards providing higher quality health care delivery; such countries should initially offer locations with public Internet access and develop IT infrastructure that increases access in the future.
Learn How To Be Content Alone
Some people think of “being alone” as a bad thing. It either means you’re anti-social, or unwanted; neither of which is a good position to be in if we’re being quite honest. But with the RMO in place, many of us have been stuck alone at home (and out of state- far from friends and family) for well over a month with no clear sign of when the quarantine period will end.
Being alone can be surprisingly lonely and exhausting, especially for extroverts who thrive on human companionship. This is why for some people, social distancing comes off as being ridiculously difficult. But in order to keep yourself safe (and sane) during this difficult period, you’ll need to learn to cope and keep yourself busy for the greater good.
One thing (amidst several others) that is a sure-fire way to keep you going during this period of self-isolation and social distancing is your very own precious memories. Take a trip down memory lane by putting together a photo book, going through old prints or creating your own set of personalised pillows, wall art or gifts to redecorate your space. Even if you’re initially having a pretty rough day, by bringing back some good memories, it’ll prompt a positive shift in – which in turn, can make you feel super-productive and give you the strength to keep going.
In conclusion, as terrible as the pandemic outbreak is, there are some lessons that are worth remembering even when the RMO lifts and we can resume our normal day to day life. Rest assured, with social distancing in place, herd immunity building and collaborative work underway to develop treatments and a vaccine, all we have to do now is wait.