Thank you for all the messages you’ve sent in the last weeks! Your warm wishes and support mean a lot to us right now! And now it’s our turn to extend our support and encouragement your way. As many of our friends and family outside of Italy begin to shelter in place, we thought we’d offer the benefit of a few weeks’ head start on life in quarantine.
We are wrapping up our 5th week of closed schools and starting our 3rd in complete lockdown. Though this changes almost daily, the general definition of lockdown has meant we cannot leave a 200 meter radius of our house except with a written decree justifying our need for food, medication, or agricultural supplies. Law enforcement checkpoints are all over the place, patrolled by local, regional and military police to check documents and levy hefty fines against those found to be out for unjustified reasons. It’s now a criminal offense to break quarantine.
At the same time, the sharp contrast between fear-mongering and offers of mutual aid are striking. We find that following the news too closely is an exercise in futility, and those who are most community-minded are showing their truest colors at this point. We aspire to be in the latter camp, so here’s some of our pro tips for surviving and thriving in lockdown:
#1: Anxiety is Hard on Your Immune System. Take Precautions but Focus on the Good.
Many of the recommendations for staying healthy in this time are pretty simple: wash your hands, avoid unnecessary contact with people, etc. but it can be hard to stay calm with so much fear and panic around. We find focusing on the needs of other living things, whether loved ones, animals or even a house plant, can actually shift the focus away from our own internal anxiety. If it doesn’t work though, refer to #2.
#2: It’s Hard to Stay Focused and Motivated. This is by design. Be kind to yourself.
Breaking our daily routines could offer the opportunity to finally finish that novel or that long-put off home repair project… or not. Be kind to yourself, because what you might consider a personal failing or inadequacy is actually built into the fabric of your life. The indoctrination of capitalism measures our self-worth based on our output, so as we find our regular “production” limited, we feel frustrated or even useless. Even our aspiration to grand “spiritual improvements” during this time could simply set us up for greater self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy or impatience. You are enough.
#3: You Really Want to Take on a Project? Keep it Simple.
We all gotta eat, for example. Perhaps this is the time to try sitting down for a meal a day (with others if you can)? Maybe shutting off devices while eating? Perhaps this is a chance to take on really simple home food preparation techniques, like making sprouts or kefir. For the more ambitious among us, this could also be a great time to try changing your diet more significantly, like trying the 21 Day Challenge proposed by our collaborators Cambio di Marea.
#4: Working or Connecting Online is Not the Same as Meeting in Person. But it is possible.
Since we (Evan and Federica) “enjoyed” the first 3 years of our relationship online, we are pretty used to the ups and downs of internet fluctuations, videoconferencing software and time zone management. Actually Evan has worked online for over 10 years as a consultant doing outreach, organizational development and fundraising work mostly in cloud-based teams around the world, so if you need a hand with such things, let us know.
#5: Solidarity, Solidarity, Solidarity.
What do you have that could be useful or help those around you? Referring back to all the previous points, how is your situation perhaps slightly better off than others that you know and what can you give back? We’ve been really impressed by all the folks creating ad-hoc meals on wheels, donating medical supplies or simply calling people to chase away the boredom and isolation. Once again, don’t feel inadequate if you’re not able to do something grand, but this is an invitation to get out of your own head.