Issue #9: “When I is replaced with we, even illness becomes wellness.”
Nothing could have prepared us for this. Confined to our homes in an effort to curb the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus, we’re bombarded with rising infection rates around the world, terrifying death tolls and the accounts of grieving loved ones and health practitioners. It is an extraordinary time.
Even with a slew of self-help material and daily updates, there is an unprecedented level of uncertainty. This is a global health, social, economic and even moral crisis all wrapped up into one, experienced in an acutely contemporary way . Our cellphones are buzzing with constant updates, but for the first time in ages, our screens are also lighting up with messages from friends and family just checking in. And that’s what we wanted to do with this month’s edition of The Thread. We wanted to check in with you: How are you?
When we imagine a world beyond Covid-19, what does it look like?
We’re all experiencing this pandemic in unique ways that change throughout the day, from fear to dark humour, but we’re able to share these experiences in a way that previous generations have not. It’s no doubt that this will change our world. It has already upended our routines, shaken public health systems and shattered economies. This microscopic virus has exposed our greatest vulnerabilities and deepest inequalities. But it could also be a time to step back and re-evaluate our world, our country and our own lives.
When we imagine a world beyond Covid-19, what does it look like? In isolation, that world could be bleak, but the communities we have created remind us that it is also a hopeful world. Our heading comes from a quote by civil rights activist Malcolm X, a man who lived through incarceration, segregation, violence and grief. In all of it, he not only brought his community together, but drew strength from them. In this time, when you feel anxious and afraid, we can draw strength from our friends, family and group chats, and remind ourselves that we’re going to be okay.
We lament what little time we have to spend with our family as work and school take us away from each other and the home. Well, for at least 21 days, we’ll be able to catch up on lost time. Suddenly it doesn’t seem like that much fun as everyone adjusts to life under one roof. A football player, a school principal and a clinical psychologist have put together some practical advice staying together and staying sane. Parents and teachers in the global community have also shared educational games, like the 30-day Lego challenge, to help children through this irregular time while Amazon has made hundreds of children’s audiobooks freely available. And when you miss your group of friends, here are just some of the apps that support group chats.
With a global illness came a global financial crisis, the symptoms of which we are only beginning to feel. South Africa went into recession just days before we went into lockdown, the second in two years, and as the world responds to the coronavirus, we’re expected to go into historic global economic recession, which could be worse than the 2008 financial recession—the effects of which we are still feeling. There is no good news, but there are ways to handle the recession. To help you pocket survive the lockdown, financial planner Maya Fisher-French and personal finance author Mapalo Makhu shared their lessons for women in this podcast.
Now, perhaps more than ever, we’re acutely aware of our own health, monitoring every sneeze or cough, wary of what and who we make contact with as we dread catching this deadly disease. But the mental toll of that dread, and the anxiety that comes from watching the number of infections tick up is worsened by our inability to just step outside. A virtual trip to a museum, via Google’s Museum Views could give you the break you need. Artists are also giving online performances and here in South Africa, independent book store Bridge Books has put discussion with authors online while Impepho Press is running a daily 21-day online poetry festival. And if you need to escape into another world, there is always the joy of a good book.
Just a few weeks ago, working from home was an experimental concept, now it’s a necessity. Even under lockdown, deadlines need to be met, but so do domestic demands. If this is your first time working from home, take this advice from a freelancer on how to set up your work-from-home day. While setting up this temporary situation, be mindful of gender disparities. Working from home also raises questions about equality, with the burden falling on women. And without the office chats or lunch with colleagues, loneliness begins to set in, so here’s how to cope with loneliness.