COVID Chronicles: Reflecting on the Impact of the Coronavirus

The Damsel Editors discuss how they’ve been dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, what they’ve been doing to keep busy whilst social distancing, and share experiences and tips from Damsel contributors.

Libby

This is a difficult and uncertain time for everybody, and for me at least, it feels like the calm before the storm. Everyone is trying to figure how to work or study from home. Or trying to get through to Centrelink. Or are constantly checking and rechecking their hours and saving what they can in fear of losing work. We’re all trying our best to stay in touch with friends and loved ones, and trying to figure out what to do with all the time so many of us now have. COVID-19 has brought the world to a standstill, and honestly, I have no idea how to manage.

I work as a barista, and as anyone else in the hospitality or retail sector knows, the fact that I still have a job right now (as of writing this) is a miracle. I feel as if I’m always waiting for the call from my boss to say that we’re closing or that they don’t have any hours for me.

Meanwhile, with uni classes being moved online I’m finding it hard to stay motivated and get any studying done. If I don’t have to physically go into uni I don’t have to do the work, right? I’ve been trying to stay on my normal schedule, getting up, showering, having breakfast and then doing some study. But it’s easy to get distracted, whether that’s from the constant news coming in, or just wanting to chat with friends.

When I’m not studying, I’ve been watching a lot of television (Superstore being my recent binge show), and spending a lot more time with my entire family, which is something that didn’t happen often before COVID. I’ve also dedicated more time to knitting, which I took up in early February and haven’t progressed much since. But now that I have more time, I really want to improve and hopefully finish a scarf by winter!

Most importantly though, is that I’m trying to not be so hard on myself. It’s easy to beat yourself up over not achieving daily goals, or for not studying as much as you would like. There’s this expectation that because of the extra time so many people it’s an opportunity to get some new hobbies, finish that reading list, do a clean out, or be more creative. But sometimes all you want to do is lie in bed and play online scrabble (or maybe that’s just me).

This is a big adjustment for everyone, and there’s people who are at far greater risk, and are going through far greater problems due to COVID than many of us are. There’s going to be good days, and bad days, and quite often just okay days. For me, being with my family and staying in touch with my friends and girlfriend are the most important thing. After that then maybe I can focus on getting some studying done and being productive.

Priyanka

I remember on New Year’s Eve in 2019 I was so looking forward to starting the new year. I had so many plans, new resolutions I promised myself I would keep, and a positive outlook. 2020 was a new decade, I was going to study hard, save money, grow emotionally, and become a better person. And then 2020 hit. The first few weeks were great, and then came disaster after disaster. First came the news of huge fires in the Amazon. The last embers of these had barely cooled when we found out most of Australia was now ablaze. People banded together and created mass volunteer drives and funding pages for those affected; humanity started to come together and cooperate to solve problems. Our attention was quickly diverted by rumours of the impending threat of World War III. As soon as that settled, we were flooded with news of an incredibly infectious virus killing thousands of people in China. Of course, the world thought it was tragic, but no one even considered the possibility of a worldwide pandemic- which is exactly what we are now facing.

As a pharmacy assistant, I am a little worried about what’s to come. I’ve already spoken to so many sick people, sold cold and flu medications, constantly fielded questions about hand sanitiser and face masks. As the pandemic worsens, I am worried that people working in “essential” industries will be at great risk of being infected, and spreading the virus. I do however see myself as extremely lucky to be able to keep my job during this period. I am more fortunate than so many, and I hope that all the new advice and measures put into place by the government are enough to ward off the worst, and people are able to go back to work very soon and return to their normal lives.

To keep my mind off everything going on in the world, I am focusing on positive things I hear about.  For example, due to isolation and decreased human activity, the water in Venice’s canals is running clear and fish are once again visible. Europe’s overall greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 24%. People worldwide are coming up with ways to band together and there is a growing sense of global community. A particular example that I loved hearing about is young people shopping for, and delivering groceries to the elderly and immunocompromised.

It is so easy during this time to sink into endless Netflix marathons and unhealthy eating, but we have to be responsible and maintain our daily routines. I’m definitely not exempt from the temptation; I’ve spent a lot of time watching TV and falling behind in lectures. It’s so difficult to stay motivated without physically attending classes, and I have to say I am struggling a little. But, as of this week, I have implemented an exercise routine, a strict study plan and I am getting myself back on track.

The bottom line is; COVID-19 is a terrible, incredibly infectious virus which has taken tens of thousands of lives globally and changed the way people conduct their everyday lives. Across the world, people are forced into lockdown. It is so easy to become self-absorbed in this type of climate and complain about the struggles of switching to online uni, or not being able to go shopping or to bars. However, there are people who are forced to stay home in less than ideal conditions, people with difficult family dynamics at the best of times, which will only get worse with this forced quarantine. People who have no escape from domestic abuse, with support services becoming increasingly hard to access. We can’t forget them, and we should do our best to check on the wellbeing of our friends and family, and if unable to support them ourselves, remind them where to get help.  

 

Stories and Tips from Damsel Contributors*

How has Covid-19 impacted you? (In aspects such as education, work, personal and social life)

“I’ve had to move back home away from my college dorm, while still having to pay for my room. Moving online has been difficult. It’s harder to keep up with everything when you can’t be there in person and so many hours on a computer to do tutorials and lectures is affecting my health. I’ve lost my job- I was a babysitter. And I’ve got no social life anymore- going from being surrounded by people at college to a big house with only family is really lonely.”

“I have had to stop work for the foreseeable future. As I am casual and a student, I am not eligible for any government benefits. The pandemic has also caused a lot of emotional instability as someone who regularly suffered from mental illnesses including depression and anxiety. As for academic, I have struggled with the immediate transition to online learning and would have preferred a weeks adjustment.”

What are you doing to stay mentally and physically healthy? Are you using this time to be productive, or as a time to relax and destress?

“I’m trying to go outside everyday, and trying to do yoga. I’m definitely using this time to be productive- the mountains of uni work to keep up with and organise means that’s I’ve got very little time to destress at the moment.”

“I have struggled initially but the past couple of days have been better for me. I find that waking up, making breakfast, showering and getting dressed set me up for the day to be productive. I find that if I don’t do these things I struggle to get out of bed as the morning progresses and this further deteriorates my mental health.”

“I’m using this time to upskill as much as I can. I’m usually very busy but since I have been forced to stay inside, in a roundabout way, I’ve been given the time I’ve always wanted to dedicate to practicing and improve skills like coding and my artwork. I’ve also been doing push-ups, sit-ups, squats and some impromptu dance parties in my room.”

Lastly, what advice do you have for others during this global crisis? 

“Stay home, get some work done, take breaks (or you will go insane), and listen to music that makes you happy!”

“We are all in this together! FaceTime your friends and play games with your family! We will get through this.”

“Reduce your news intake to what’s essential, stay in contact with loved ones and friends, use this time to reconnect with old hobbies or discover new ones. A time to pause and recharge like this is unlikely to happen again soon.”

Important Sites and Resources:

WA Health Department

WA Domestic Violence Helpline

Beyond Blue

Headspace

* All responses were submitted anonymously

~ Libby Robbins Bevis and Priyanka Sharma

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