Living in China with the CoronaVirus

Bibiana Huanqui

What is it like to be locked up in your house in China while the rest of the world panics about the Corona Virus?

If you´re reading this post from outside China, we'll include a brief explanation of how things are being run here.

There are too many rumors and misinformation out there misleading people into despair. Truth be told, measures are strict as they should be in a case like this. Students don't have a return date settled yet. Some transportation has been canceled. People are advised to stay inside their homes, wash hands often, wear a mask, etc. other than that, things are running normally. Emptier streets, fewer people working, but that's it. For further specific details, watch this video, made by our friend Cristina who is a doctor and lives here in China.

Dealing with confinement

There are particular occasions amongst human life when confinement or isolation happens. One is a type of punishment that could go from the feared solitary confinement for prisoners, to the typical "stay in your room" from an annoyed parent. We could also mention the spiritual retreats which are generally self-chosen and may include deprivation from information and communication technologies (like social media and cellphones) and then there is a third kind which is isolation for medical reasons. Well, good news: In our case, we are not punished, we are not deprived of social media and entertainment and more important than all the above, we are not sick. So put in context, we are being protected. And that's a good thing, but it wasn't our choice and so it can get lonely, boring, overwhelming and some people might even get anxious and depressive. Most people need a routine and a sense of freedom and protection. Well, say no more. We have prepared some ideas to help you make the best out of this special time.

The "One day at a time" philosophy

This is a strong, powerful concept that I learned from the rehab institutions, but honestly, it perfectly applies to anyone. If you are an overthinker, this should become your mantra and even if you are not, it is a great way to deal with all the negative, even paranoid thoughts. Anyways, of what use is it to imagine all the worst-case scenarios of how this virus could end? A friend was asking me a few days ago: "what if it gets worse and we cannot go back to our homes, and then we're locked up here with no food, no way to escape… ?" that´s a lot of "ifs" and worries about things that are NOT happening. Also, what if by the end of this month everything goes back to normal? We simply don't know. Those are just possibilities. The best way to fight back those fears is by taking one day at a time and looking at the FACTS and NOT the speculations.

A dream come true: No alarm!

Can you imagine a day when you don't have to snooze the alarm 5 times or worry about going to bed early to get enough sleep or having to go outside in the cold winter because you HAVE TO? Well, that day is now. Say bye-bye to setting an alarm for the following days. Come on! This IS good news. You get to sleep as much as you like, wake up as late as your body wants to and forget about alarms for a while. This time is a free extended vacation from school obligations, a longer paid holiday for employees. Let's look at the bright side of things!

Keep a schedule

I know I said forget about alarms but staying in bed 24 hours is not a good plan either. Watching series all day long is a one-time nice thing to do, but if you do it daily, it can easily turn from laziness to depression. And we don't want that. It doesn't have to be a busy work-like or school-like schedule but give your day some structure. Think about what you will do first, then and next. You can take a shower as soon as you get up or at night, it doesn't matter, you don't have to eat at the same time every day, but these are things you should not stop doing. (okay, maybe you can skip a shower now and then, it's winter after all) 😊 If you are more methodic, you can have your schedule written down and then tick or cross out the items on your list as you complete them. Though if you really have no clue what to do with all your free time, keep reading, more ideas are on the way.

Pending issues

We all have something we say we would like to do but haven't done because "we don't have time". Think about it and you'll surely find a couple of things or projects you always wanted to do and don't require going anywhere. Well, you are out of excuses. It's time to finish reading that book, writing that paper, cooking that recipe, sewing that garment, watching that movie, cleaning out your closet or whatever it is you have been postponing. After you finish it, you will feel really good about yourself and motivated.

Work out

It is not like we cannot go out. We can, as long as we're careful. For instance, yesterday morning I went for a jog and it was very nice. Streets are empty, so perfect timing to go to parks and places generally crowded. I will go skating soon too, you can go cycling. Though it's cold outside so dress accordingly. Now, if you do not like being outdoors, that's okay. There are countless videos of easy work out routines at home that don't require any special equipment. If you do not like working out at all, find yourself something that moves your body, whether is just stretching, yoga or dancing. Remember that exercising helps eliminate toxins and increases endorphins in the body. If you want to know more about the wonderful physical and psychological benefits of working out, don't miss this useful article.

Pamper yourself

In our daily life, most of the time we're too busy to exfoliate our full body while bathing or properly shave with no rush at all. To prepare that natural face mask and let it settle in while we give ourselves a nice pedicure. What better time to try more nail designs on your manicure or some new hairstyles? Taking care of yourself physically will not only make you feel prettier, but your skin and body will appreciate it. Let's show everybody how even through rough times, we keep glowing!

Learn something new

This comes along with the pending issues point above, because most of us have something we'd like to learn or started learning and stopped. That forgotten ukulele keeps staring at you from the corner of your room. Your Chinese skills haven't got any better although you promised yourself to improve. The painting set is still stored in your basement. What is it that is waiting for you? Learning something new is always cool and keeps you busy and focused. It'll make something useful out of your quarantine time.

Stay in touch

Our moms get worried, our relatives pray for us. The media is a monster that can turn these safety measures into a "locked up to die" fake news headline. It's up to us to keep them informed on how things evolve. Also, stay in touch with your friends in and out of China. Technology makes it truly easy for us. Be active in positive WeChat and other groups that lift our spirits.

Last but not least,

Keep a grateful state of mind

I could say "stay positive" but that's a shallow expression. Easier said than done. How do we stay positive anyway? But if we contextualize positivity with gratefulness, it all makes sense. Instead of focusing on the things you cannot do or change, focus on the good things you have, that I'm sure are many. Start by thinking about the people who love you and you love back. Health, food, education, a bed to sleep in, we give it all for granted but we shouldn't. Every little thing we have is a big blessing, so look around you and be thankful. In no time, this will all be put behind us, but we'll come out of it victorious, stronger and with many lessons learned. They'll get to know us as the brave ones who survived the deadly CoronaVirus while living at the heart of its birthplace. 😊

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