10 lessons from the Coronavirus outbreak

This world pandemic has affected everyone and has changed the way in which we do things in an unprecedented way. In the UK, where I live, more than 1,000 people have died at the time of writing these lines. In Spain, where I am from, it is more than 6,000 the number of people who lost their lives due to this virus.

Many countries have shut down as a response to this growing threat, and many of us have been isolating at home for almost two weeks already.

Life has inevitably changed and society’s priorities have completely switched in a matter of weeks. There are many lessons to be learnt from this crisis, but these are the ones I want to make sure I remember when life goes back to “normal”.

#1 The economy or the environment? We shouldn’t have to choose…

Our dear planet is recovering slightly with our lockdown. The media has reported on clearer skies, lower CO2 levels in Asia and Europe, cleaner waters, and even dolphins in the Venice canals! Although the latter was recently claimed to be false (I’m sorry, I also loved the idea of dolphins in Venice!)

As a climate change advocate, I’m excited about this positive news and I’d love to keep it this way once life goes back to normal. However, it is quite sad and obvious that the reason why our planet is recovering is because we got out of the way and gave it a chance!

The incompatibility of our economic system with the health of our planet is now crystal clear (wasn’t it before anyway?), so I really hope we (Governments mainly) all can appreciate how quickly our grateful planet is to heal and we can re-shape the way we do things when we go back to “normality”.

#2 The world’s key workers

When life trims down to the basics, it becomes quite obvious who really makes a difference to help us “survive”. Health and food – and everything involved in their chains: from the top doctor to the hospital cleaner, from the supermarket cashier to the lorry driver to the farmer. Those are who we really need right now.

And yes, in the current century and economic system, let’s also acknowledge the need for other “survival” services such as postage and delivery, media and communication, or basic banking and utility services. But that is about it, other professions (mine included) didn’t make the cut.

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#3 We are all the same in front of this virus

Despite the numerous social and financial inequalities present in our society, it has been proven that health pandemics do not discriminate on people, money or social class. Everyone and anyone can be a victim of Covid-19, from Tom Hanks to Boris Johnson or Prince Charles.

#4 We were rich and we didn’t know it

Many of us are already dreaming about the plans we will make when all this is over. Not crazy plans, just normal plans… Dinner with friends, house gatherings, holidays, weddings, birthday parties, a visit to our grandparents, a dance class, a drink after work, a hug to a friend, a kiss to our parents, a job interview…

It is all the things we took for granted last month that now feel like such a luxury. The good news is that we will get there eventually (China did, right?), and the better news is that now we stopped dreaming about winning the lottery and just hoping to go back to the safe, fortunate life we had before this outbreak started.

lego toy in clear glass container
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

#5 The real shopping essentials in the age of consumerism

We have all being shocked about the empty shelves in the supermarkets, which can easily remind us of what scarcity meant in war time.

In a society where we constantly have way more than we need, it is interesting how, in times of fear and lockdown, people not only stocked-piled, but also ditched the processed foods and prioritised wholefood.

Toilet roll jokes aside, an article in a Spanish newspaper surprised me this week as it reported that pulses were the product that had increased its sales by up to 300x in supermarkets, followed by pasta and then, yes, toilet paper. In times of need, people are going back to what is essential: olive oil, milk, potatoes, legumes, pasta, rice, vegetables, tinned fish, nuts and seeds…

Time to get the most nutrients for the least space, a package of dried chickpeas will give us that and not a frozen pizza.

#6 Health is paramount…

…and the world can stop because of it. This virus has put the world on hold. Closed every shop except for the essential services, and reminded us all of what really is important.

This is the first time (except for war times maybe) where only essential shops are allowed to be open. Fashion? Forget it! Beauty? Nope. Entertainment? No-no. It is becoming obvious what is not essential and how we can actually live without it.

And we thought Brexit was bad….

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#7 The power of digital

Luckily for us, technology has been a great tool to keep us all connected in times of need. Online school lessons, work, entertainment, workouts, meetups with friends… The list of options has flourished in the past few weeks, and it is amazing how we all have been able to adapt so quickly. Something to be grateful for.

This has also demonstrated that working from home is feasible for many office-based companies and, coming back to point number one, I hope this proof helps us to structure our working week differently in the coming future – allowing us all more flexibility to work from home, reducing our commuting time per week and overall improving our work life balance as a society.

#8 Time to slow down

Living in this hyperactive western society, where everyone is constantly on the go, this virus has forced us all to slow right down. Despite being at home all day can feel a bit claustrophobic at times, part of me is loving the plan. It is such a novelty not having be running around all day with a thousand plans. I feel a lot more rested, I have done some great things in the house and spent so much quality time with my other half.

Spending time at home with your loved ones is now the rule, and I hope that allows all households to create some beautiful memories together because, as long as this is over, it will be hard to go back to this homie cosy days.

Those living alone might experience a different reality however, as spending time 24/7 on your own company can end up being a bit overwhelming. If this is your case, I hope you enjoy this period pampering yourself, learning new things, taking life easy and connecting with family and friends every day.

#9 Humor will save us all

I can even start counting how many memes I have received since the start of this pandemic. Cleaning up my phone pictures the other day, it was funny to observe how memes have evolved as weeks passed: Coronavirus went from being something linked to China and then Italy, to something knocking at our own doors.

I must say that memes have made this drama so much more manageable and lighter for me. People are so funny and witty, and sharing the jokes with friends and family is something that I think is also keeping us closer with a feeling of ‘being on this together’.

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#10 People is good 🙂

Finally, it is often at the worst times when we see the best in people. And Coronavirus has been no exception. It has been to moving to witness people’s attempts to help one another with numerous initiatives. From helping neighbours in need within our own community, to supermarkets allocating time for old and NHS shoppers only, to Governments finding money from who knows where to minimise the toll this is going to take on businesses and workers.

Signing in the balconies, applauding the healthcare staff, prioritising the vulnerable… This crisis has tested us and it is encouraging to see society’s values at their best.

Stay safe, stay strong, and remember this too shall pass, my friends!


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