This is a difficult time, but we will get through it.
Many people have lost friends and family members, and I send my sincere condolences to them. But to stay mentally healthy we need to look on the bright side, however hard that sometimes is.
Here are some of the things I’m grateful for. If you can think of any positives to add to the list, please tell me in the ‘comments’ below.
- People at VGC are working so hard to support each other and our clients. Our HR and payroll teams are focused on getting the correct wages to people still working, plus arranging for everyone eligible to join the coronavirus job retention scheme. Operations and HSQE teams are working flat out to make sure all sites that are still open can move forward effectively and safely. Our IT team has been marvellous, setting up office staff to work from home and solving problems. As Ciara Pryce said in her recent blog, everyone has been finding solutions and it’s a real team effort.
- Caring professions are more valued than ever before. People come together at 8pm on Thursdays to clap for carers, such as our emergency services, healthcare workers, and refuse collectors – workers who are usually overlooked but keep Britain going. Our street makes a lot of noise!
- It was lovely that New Zealand’s prime minister assured children that the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny are key workers.
- I’ve been making an effort to contact friends and relatives who may be feeling isolated. As a result, I’ve caught up with people I normally speak to very seldom. It’s been hard not to attend funerals of some important friends, but I have shared online meetings and emails with other people who are also grieving for them. We’ve supported each other, and we will arrange memorial events as soon as we can. I’ve also had good news about people who have had it and recovered. (Including my husband, which is a major ‘bright side’ for me!)
- With less international travel, fewer car journeys and less industrial activity, there has been a drop in air pollution and carbon emissions. It is true that there’s a risk of increased emissions afterwards, but it is a chance to look differently at our carbon footprints. For example, video-conferencing may mean fewer flights in future.
- I am lucky to be able to get outside, and have been enjoying the spring flowers and the birdsong at this time of year. With fewer vapour trails, it feels as if the sky is bluer – when it isn’t raining. (And rain is good for thirsty plants. I just can’t yet see a bright side to the slugs which are coming out of hibernation to munch on my seedlings.)
- Friends and family have been sharing some very funny videos and jokes. As a declared grammar nerd, one of my favourites is: “Actually, it should be ‘COVID-19 declared a pandemic by WHOM’.”
- There are some excellent free streamed performances by top quality performers. I couldn’t possibly afford tickets to all the performances I’ve been able to watch over the past few weeks. I know it’s not quite as good as being there in person, but they are still a treat. I’ve been enjoying performances by the Metropolitan Opera and the National Theatre. Whatever your tastes, there’s something for everyone.
- There are also free cooking classes and mental health meditations, and I’ve been doing the NHS 10-minute workout each morning before starting work.
The coronavirus outbreak is changing the way we live. There are lots of unknowns about the future – most people don’t know what is going to happen next week, let alone next month, and we don’t have much control.
If you need help with your mental wellbeing, please contact someone – see our web page for a list of mental health resources. We also have a list of places where you can get help with financial worries.
It is important to try to stay optimistic. While life will not ‘go back to normal’, we will have a new ‘normal’, and that may be good, too.