Coronavirus has swept across the world, the highly infectious respiratory illness believed to have originated in continental Asia has impacted our lives to an unforeseen degree. To better maintain order and keep its citizens safe, governments around the world have instigated nationwide lockdowns.
Limiting the movement of individuals and proposed social distancing is a commonsense way to reduce infection rates of a population. For the people themselves, this forced period of isolation has led them to feel cut off from society and increase the possibility of a negative effect on mood or mental health. However, in the background, we’ve seen some beneficial changes to our livelihood, which whilst are welcome are also somewhat surprising.
People Are Exercising More
We’re more health-conscious than ever, focussing on our bodies like an anxious teenager in a prom limo. Combine this with a small window each day to leave the house and exercise, the result is more people than ever putting on their trainers and hitting the streets. Look out your windows and you’ll see a growing number of power walkers, joggers, and cyclists.
Limiting the opportunity to exercise and curtailing freedom of movement has led many of us to start a fitness regime that will keep us healthy and keep our minds occupied. The benefits of exercise go without saying, and an hour a day is plenty to keep your body in a better condition. While exercising though, it’s important not to disregard your safety or that of those around you. Traveling in packs is never recommended and a 2M distancing as a minimum is essential at all times.
Remember that pushing yourself will require you to take breaks, as rest periods are as important a principle of getting in shape as the exercise itself. Muscles tear and grow back stronger, but they need time to recover. Also, you have less margin for error, a serious injury could land you need medical attention or even require a trip to the hospital, which due to the current circumstances isn’t the best place to be.
Streaming Is More Popular Than Ever
On the flip side, with all this free time on your hands, the temptation to cram an entire series of television into a day is just too high. This is made easier than ever thanks to the growing number of streaming platforms, many of which offer uninterrupted playback to watch one episode after another without ever lifting a finger.
It’s not all sitcom laughs and nature show gasps. We’re now experiencing a stratification of streaming services, to access the shows you love it is now the case that you will be expected to subscribe and pay for multiple platforms. Even with all this access, you’ll still probably watch The Office again (UK or American, no judgment).
This has led to speculation about a revival of programmed television, the picking is done for you and the advert breaks provide time to snap out of your show-coma. Traditional television channels also offer regular news updates, which streaming platforms simply do not, making them very useful at informing their viewers of the latest updates or providing important messages.
Home Cooking is Back in a Big Way (Finally)
If you’ve been to the supermarket recently you’ll have seen a lot of empty shelves. Thoughts of a post-apocalyptic world where only you and a handful of scavengers exist fighting for the last tin of sardines immediately comes to mind. Tinned food and frozen products were the first to go, thanks to their longevity which is always appealing when facing a potential survival situation. What this left us with is a sparse collection of spices, vegetables, and cuts of meat that we’ve largely ignored in favor of those popularised by restaurants.
But rather than panic we’ve risen to the occasion and cooking just became a whole lot more interesting. It’s not a challenge to roast a chicken or braise a steak, but combining beef cheek and mung beans presents a new opportunity for experimental cooking. It’s time to rise to the challenge and experience a walk on the wild side. Reliance on previously ignored food sources could lead to a potentially better diet. During WW2 rationing in the UK and the promotion of the Land Army (home farming) led to Britons consuming more fresh produce and arguably eating better than they had pre-war.
With all that time on your hands, there’s never been a better time to strap on an apron and get experimenting.
Working From Home Is The New Normal
While key industry workers such as doctors, nurses, refuse collectors and even warehouse operatives for online stores will be seen going to work, a larger group will now be working from home. Pre-lockdown the prospect of remote working was a hot-button topic in boardrooms across the world, with concerns about productivity and industry presence being pulled into question.
The inevitability of isolated working conditions became clear once other measures to control the spread of infection failed. While there are logistical challenges such as finding space to work, dealing with distractions, and temperamental internet connections, it has been a largely successful enterprise on all accounts. Many have commented on the ability to focus better and that feeling watched has led them to work harder.
This isn’t a new idea. In 1958, a long-term work progress study took place at the Hawthorne Works plant in Chicago, Illinois. Through the course of this study, it was discovered that workers who had an interest shown in them, or felt they were under scrutiny, made a greater effort to increase their productivity. This has led many to argue that if we can keep up the scale of communication that is made possible by advancements like instant messaging, video chats, and web meetings, working from home could become a viable option for a large number of people post-lockdown.
There’s Never Been A Better Chance To Learn
From ‘bread bros’ to the crochet collectives of Reddit, all this time indoors has led people to try their hand at activities that they would have never even considered before. With the global lockdown likely to span many months, you may find yourself with enough time to learn a new language or maybe even master your native tongue. Boredom can be a powerful motivator and learning doesn’t just stop at skills, we can learn a lot about ourselves and those around us.
When we emerge with these new skills we could see a radical shift in the job market. People have begun to embrace crafting and creating activities such as woodwork and metalwork or pushing the boundaries of their intellect. It is an exciting time and gives people the opportunity to learn in a concentrated fashion that they have not engaged in since schooldays.
Learning doesn’t have to be expensive, the internet is still the world’s greatest collection of free knowledge, as well as fail videos and unwavering opinions about the crimes committed (allegedly) by people who own tigers. A great number of online courses are now available at a lower price or free altogether. So, rather than spending all your time worrying, embrace the new and unusual, for all you know you could be Redbridge County’s greatest pumpkin carver or Sydney’s newest woodworking savant.
Teachers Are Saints
It’s safe to say that in the past we have taken our nation’s educators for granted, treating them more like glorified zookeepers rather than purveyors of knowledge and social etiquette. Fast-forward to 2020 and suddenly parents across the country have found themselves having to put together bespoke curriculums, whilst trying to remember important lessons from their own school days.
All the while teachers still aren’t getting a break. For most teaching is a vocation, not a job. They have shown themselves willing to put their health in jeopardy to teach the children of key workers in person and even offer digital classes for those that just can’t do without.
Online shopping is booming
As part of the ongoing lockdown process, people have been encouraged to only go out to shop when absolutely necessary. As a further measure, any shop classified as non-essential has been forced to close. The combination of these two factors had led to a period of rapid growth for online retailers.
Vape shops were hit very hard by these closures, as customers would rely on the expert advice of the staff that worked in them as much as the range of products that they could offer. Dedicated online stores such as Vape Club made a name for themselves pre-lockdown by offering informative in-house content, a dedicated customer service team, as well as a wide range of both e-liquids and vape kits that are available with free shipping.
Businesses such as these are busier than ever, serving a customer base that would rarely engage in online shopping. Mailing companies are keen to lend a hand, with the likes of Royal Mail and DPD offering a continual service with contact-free delivery widely available. As the lockdown inevitably continues, online businesses will be relied on for vital items as there will be continued risk associated with visiting and staffing traditional stores.
The world is changing around us at a rate that many consider alarming, but it’s not all doom and gloom. The Coronavirus outbreak will be remembered for decades to come and while its full impact will not be realized for some time, it’s important that during these times we work together and try to make life easier.
Luckily nothing lasts forever and there’s no reason you can’t use your time in lockdown to great effect and enjoy a rewarding lifestyle in the comfort of your own home.