The Coronavirus has spread rapidly throughout the world, creating huge change on a global and local scale, and as always with us humans, there are stark contrasts in the way we deal with situations. There are those that keep a cool head, those that completely lose it, and those that take advantage of it. There are also those that come together as a community, and those that take on an “every man for himself” mentality. These are scary and unprecedented times, but it’s how we respond to them that will determine how well we come through, and finding community in isolation is key.
Why Panic Buy?
Almost as soon as the virus started to spread outside of China, people started to panic buy. Supermarket shelves were stripped bare. People were filmed fighting in the aisles over…toilet paper. Really? What is it about us that makes us feel better if we can hoard items.
Consumer psychologist Paul Marsden, from the University of Arts in London, says we buy to manage our emotional state.
“It’s about taking back control in a world where we feel out of control”.
I understand that there’s a certain level of uncertainty about the way we are living day to day. For some people there may be a real fear of not knowing when they will be able to shop again. But, for now at least, there isn’t any reason that most of us need to be panic buying everything we can get our hands on.
When people do this it always makes me wonder what would happen if there really was a shortage of food. Would the people that bought everything share, or would it be a case of the haves and the have-nots?
When you shop, think about the people that still haven’t made it to the shops. Think about the ones that can’t get out and are relying on someone to bring them food.
Be kind. Take just what you need, so that others can get what they need too.
Be A Community
To switch to a more positive note, the Coronavirus is something that we are all in together so it is something that can bring us together. People thrive in community. It’s how we evolved. It’s only in recent years that we’ve started living in a much more individualistic way, especially here in the West.
As countries like Italy and Spain go into lock down, and the rest of us retreat into voluntary isolation it’s the spirit of community that seems to be rising.
How heartwarming was it to see the citizens of Siena singing to each other from their balconies. The video went viral on Twitter and was soon followed by videos of people all over Italy coming together in song, even though they were separated physically.
With people everywhere taking themselves into isolation to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus it can be especially hard for the older generation and those most at risk to get what they need. Becky Wass, a freelance copywriter from Falmouth, Cornwall, has come up with a novel idea to help those in need and combat loneliness. A postcard that she plans to post through the door of older members in the community with the offer of picking up supplies or even just a chat on the phone. Loneliness is a disease in itself and something as simple as popping your phone number through a neighbour’s door can really make all the difference.
To help stop the people most vulnerable coming into contact with the general population several supermarket chains are dedicating certain hours to the elderly. Pensioners, and carers, can do their shopping without an elevated risk.
In America there have been a few cases of people leaving huge tips to help out the staff of their favourite restaurants. In Ohio, a customer at Coaches Bar and Grill in Columbus gave a $2,500 tip to staff. Another customer at Irma’s Southwest restaurant in Houston, Texas left a $9,400 tip with a note saying “To help pay you guys over the next few weeks”.
These are just a few examples of people coming together and helping each other, there are many more and they strengthen my faith in human nature.
Stay At Home
At the moment, here in Portugal, self isolation is voluntary. However, I think that is about to change. On the news there is talk of declaring a state of emergency at midnight tonight, which will mean that isolation is enforced.
Being stuck at home isn’t so bad, but it takes a lot of patience and imagination to be stuck at home with kids. So far we’ve basically avoided being around other people, but we have been able to go for walks on the beach to break up the day. After tonight I don’t know if that will be an option anymore.
My son isn’t even two yet so he really has no idea what’s going on. Having said that though, we have to remember that kids are like sponges, they may not understand the reasons but they can certainly pick up on our moods. It’s important for them that we try to stay calm and positive. If your kids are old enough to understand then try to explain to them what’s going on in a way that isn’t dramatic or scary, and check in with them about how they are feeling and any questions or concerns they might have. National Geographic have a post for kids, to help them understand what’s going on. You may find it helpful.
One thing that I came across that I wanted to mention is that if your local schools are closed then you can get help on line so your kids can keep up with their education. Scholastic Learn At Home is offering free lessons for students during this crisis. You might also want to check out National Geographic Kids for some fun learning.
The Coronavirus doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere fast, but the more we play our part and follow the safety guidelines the quicker we will get it under control.
In the mean time, let’s try to control our fear and not get taken over by it. Let’s pull together and help each other, instead of being every man for himself.
These truly are interesting times we live in. I hope our response to them will be a defining moment for the human race.
Feel free to comment your concerns and ideas below. Sending lots to love to you and your families. Take care and stay well.