Week four: There’s a woman dressed like Sandra Bullock in Birdbox roaming around Coles, lads

There’s a feeling of tension in the air that I can’t quite put my finger on. It kind of feels like the air in an exam room, or when you try to get your boyfriend’s attention when he’s watching Six Nations.

This tension, of course, is caused by coronavirus, and it’s the first time that I have wished I could just nip home for half an hour to make sure everyone is doing okay, even though I am being reassured via text, phone calls and coronavirus inspired memes.

We’re finally on a roll despite the fact that there’s no toilet roll. There are better promises of houses this week since we decided to split up as opposed to trekking forward with our idea of the ideal five bedroom house.

There are also exciting job prospects, however the stress caused by searching for both has not quite dissipated as coronavirus begins to sweep across the globe. The public are scared of the coronavirus and it’s evident in the lack of toilet paper, pasta and tinned foods in grocery stores.

As I stroll past the hummus aisle in Coles, there is a woman dressed as Sandra Bullock in Birdbox, complete with a baseball cap, scarf draped around her mouth, sunglasses and a camping backpack, she storm troops up and down the aisle, quickly placing tinned goods into a shopping basket. Just metres away, there is a couple pleading with a Coles employee. “When will there be toilet paper again? Why can we only have one packet? Can we order it online? What if we lived in separate houses and wanted a pack each?”

There is a tension in the air and it feels like fear. This fear is well warranted, it’s impossible to shut your eyes and ears and block out even one minute of coronavirus talk. Each day, there are updates in the media that can send even the most sensible people into a spin. I wish I could fast forward three weeks into the future and just take a quick look at what’s coming.

This week, in Australia, grocery stores have become depleted of essentials, the Grand Prix is cancelled, Katy Perry is in lockdown in Sydney and Tom Hanks announced that he and his wife Rita have Coronavirus. From Ireland I am hearing that hospitals continuing to lose staff due to the need to self-isolate, St. Patricks’s day has been cancelled, people are working from home and public places are closing or limiting opening hours.

This week got me thinking a lot about how we humans tolerate one another when there is cause for panic. It also got me thinking about evolution and the ways in which we perceive those who are more vulnerable that we are. In the case of coronavirus, I’m talking about the elderly and those with compromised immune system.

There has been times this week when I have been madly impressed by compassionate community spirit and times when I have been seriously maddened by an evident “all about me” mentality when it comes to the pandemic, which is showcased by stock-piling food, taking the “I’m not going to be affected so I don’t care attitude” and even sharing badly made memes on the subject.

In times of doubt, when you don’t know what tomorrow will bring, we should remember a quote from the Dalai Lama, I feel like he knows his stuff.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the goings on of coronavirus, especially if you are far from home, here are some of my tips of stress management.

  • You can’t argue with facts. Only research using resources such as WHO and HSE. Stop looking at Dailymail articles, now (and forever) and limit social media if you find it’s putting you into a spin. If you’re in groupchats and they’re becoming lit up with hysteria, mute it. Put yourself first when it comes to the content you’re coming into contact with.
  • Regularly call and check in with friends and family. The sound of a loved one’s voice is a sure way to quell worry and lift your mood. Making sure that everyone is okay regularly and proactively will help with managing your own stress.
  • Follow the guidelines offered by healthcare professionals. If that includes not attending work or public events, remember that this isn’t forever.
  • Don’t speculate. It is difficult but there is no point of speculating on what will happen, whether it’s in regards to the possibility or a recession or future international travel. Take every day as it comes.
  • Practice self-care. It’s okay to feel stressed and you’re definitely not alone in feeling like this, especially when you actively see people acting like the end of the world is coming. If yoga or a sheet mask will make you feel better, do it sis, you deserve it!

On a brighter and lighter note, to balance out the above, here are 10 things I’m grateful for this week:

  • Iced coffee
  • Good quality face times
  • Discount sheet masks
  • Sunny cold days
  • Friendly strangers
  • Free tram zones
  • Wifi
  • Classpass
  • Chemist warehouse
  • Vegan cheese

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