When I was in my late teens, I went on a holiday solo after my relationship broke down and was stuck in a dead-end job. I wanted the opportunity to get away from life, to consider what and who was important to me. I needed the break from being me, to understand who I really was and what I had the potential to be.
Sitting on a beach does wonders for clear thinking, and the clarity was instrumental in my future career path. On my return I moved city for a fresh start, unshackling the chains of childhood friendships that were bad influences.
Lockdown has done something similar for the whole world, something we should be thankful to essential workers for. They have enabled everyone else to have a break from life, to realise who and what is important to them. With no access to hairdressers or beauty technicians, roots grew out and we started to see who we really were.
With lockdown restrictions relaxing, no doubt everyone is formulating plans on who they will see first. That hug with those chosen people will feel amazing, and not just because of the Oxytocin release. Because we get to hold our cherished friends and family again. With Coronavirus affecting both the rich and poor, money suddenly seemed worthless.
With Coronavirus latest figures showing 5,939,276 confirmed cases worldwide at the time of writing, and billions untested, it was essential to limit the spread and to try to keep deaths to a minimum. The death rate of 12% (362,798) of closed cases and the high chance of getting Covid-19 shows how vital the mass quarantine was.
The Impacts of Coronavirus
As hard as it has been for some people, particularly large families in small homes or people struggling to work from home with children, or indeed people living alone. There have also been many people suffering the loss of a loved one unable to say goodbye. Small businesses have folded, causing huge amounts of stress and pressure.
But in an effort to focus on positivity, there have also been great benefits to our local communities and beyond. Here are just some I have noticed, so please comment for anything I have forgotten:
Increased Community Spirit and Interaction
In our close, we have 60 houses. One neighbour managed to get everyone into a Whatsapp group to help those vulnerable and to work together. Despite living close by for years, modern society had opened up the world to us, but taken the focus on those geographically closest. Ten weeks of clapping and we are a lot closer. People stop to talk, share willingly to help others, and we had a lovely social distancing VE Street Party. Our story is not unique, there have many other groups with the same story. I have great hopes that after lockdown it will continue as a neighbourhood watch, freecycling and tool sharing platform. There was also an improved showing of gratitude to the NHS with the weekly clapping.
We had more time on our hands to spring clean and get to the jobs we’ve been putting off. With local household dumps closed, we could not dispose of unwanted items. Instead, landfill caught a break and these items were freecycled. Items were happily passed to someone who could use it. My children saw no shame in hand-me-downs and someones junk became their treasured possession.
Change in Consumerism habits
It turns out to live at home for 10 weeks you don’t need a lot of clothes. So we didn’t buy any! Fashion sales plummeted. The only ecommerce sectors to show increased sales were home improvements and home fitness. We planned to make our lockdown confinement as luxurious as possible, even if it did mean living in the same clothes. And why buy an expensive hedge trimmer if you can borrow one from your neighbour?
Supply and demand also meant a petrol price fall to record lows, and once we got over the initial stockpiling fears we realised we needed a lot less than we thought.
Family time and increased bonding
Those fortunate enough to be temporary furloughed or those with a job suitable for working from home could spend more quality time with their loved ones. Admittedly educating our children may have carried additional stress, but the lack of a commute in some cases gave parents hours a day more with their children. Families have made playhouses, bars, dens, and most importantly memories. Siblings have created bonds that will hopefully last a lifetime.
Maybe the generation we have been teaching goes beyond standard education and into the importance of family, respecting nature, and understanding the importance of a healthy work/life balance.
There has also been a big shift in how companies work. After decades of productivity and work ethic fears on home workers, it was realised most people can work from home. Companies such as American Express have announced they will continue home working for the rest of the year. While this is likely a cost-saving exercise (smaller offices and cheaper utility bills) it does mean more time back for workers.
Left to their thoughts gives creative types time to work magic. J K Rowling released a story after keeping it hidden for years, musicians and singer-songwriters are busy producing music that will come out in abundance very soon. And it’s not limited there, film-makers, photographers, writers, will all have been busy working on some great ideas.
Prior to Lockdown, the world news was dominated by Scientists Declaring a Climate Emergency warning drastic action had to be taken to reverse climate change. It was the third such coming together of world scientists to highlight the extinction threat since 1992. Even Great Thunberg could not get World Leaders to listen to them until the first case of Covid-19 is believed to have originated in Wuhan.
Aeroplanes were grounded, roads deserted and factories closed as we were forced to stay home. Nature got the break it so desperately needed. Reports showed improved air quality with emissions dropping, and Oil consumption fell dramatically. Wildlife is also showing increasing numbers which is great for the ecosystem.
With working from home continuing we should see less congestion on the roads. The path has been cleared for World Governments to maintain the momentum and invest in renewable energy. If only they had a history of listening to Scientists rather than fossil fuel companies.