• Natalie Alayne

2020 - Our New ‘Norm’

We have all been affected in some way, shape or form by the Covid-19 pandemic. In the recent weeks many have seen their whole world turned upside down, from losing jobs to even losing loved ones. As we navigate these unchartered waters it is important for us to remain informed, be prepared and come together to help one another. I set out to write this article to not only share insightful information about the virus, but also to offer ideas on how we can face these very surreal and unpredictable times head on and better come to terms with our new ‘norm’.



What is Covid-19?

Covid-19 (more commonly known as Coronavirus) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or blows their nose. It can also be contracted through making contact with contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Good hygiene and washing your hands frequently can prevent infection. The virus was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.



What are the Symptoms of Covid-19?

There is a lot of conflicting information out there, however there are believed to be four main symptoms and even then, those who contract the virus may not experience them all. The main symptoms are:

- Fever

- Cough

- Sore Throat

- Shortness of breath

Now just because you experience one or all of these symptoms it does not necessarily mean that you have Covid-19. But until proven otherwise it is important to air on the side of caution and treat things as though you are infected. The reason for this is due to the highly contagious nature of the virus and the risk you pose in giving it to other people if you don’t self isolate and take serious precautions in preventing the spread.



What can we do to Help Prevent the Spread?

- Avoid placing your hands near your face (mouth, nose or eyes).

- Frequently and thoroughly wash your hands with soap (especially after the bathroom and before/after meals).

- Avoid using hand dryers are they are a breeding ground for bacteria.

- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze (and then wash your hands).

- Use alcohol based sanitisers and wipes (carry some with you wherever you go).

- Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces (bench tops, door knobs and light switches).

- Clean and disinfect frequently used objects (mobile phones, wallets and keys).

- When you get home get into a habit of not touching anything, wash your hands first, strip off your clothes and then jump straight in the shower.

- Don’t re-wear the same clothes twice.

- Increase ventilation in the home by opening windows.

- Go for a walk outside to get some fresh air and vitamin D (both are known to help combat viruses).

- Comply with the Health Ministers directive to maintain a 1.5m distance between yourself and those around you (this is known as ‘Social Distancing’).

- Use ‘tap and go’ instead of cash as your payment tender.

- Keep visitors to a minimum and if you are going to meet up with anyone make sure to qualify them as to whether they are feeling 100%.

- Avoid physical greetings (hand shaking, hugs and kissing).

- Stay at home and only go out if it is absolutely essential (for food and exercise).

- If you are going to wear gloves please educate yourself and learn how to do so properly (check out Nurse Molly Lixey’s ‘Cross Contamination’ video).


The Danger of Silent Spreaders

The real issue with Covid-19 is that people who have contracted the virus may not show symptoms for 1-14 days. These ‘silent spreaders’ are walking around unaware of the risk that they pose to those around them. This is why there is such a strong call for people to stay at home and avoid unnecessary contact. We all need to be vigilant and follow the Health Ministers directives.



Panic Buying

I don’t know about you but during these crazy times I have seen a number of videos on FB and the news documenting humanities inappropriate behavior when faced with the fear of lockdown. Thankfully I never actually witnessed it with my own eyes but I have definitely been privy to the empty shelves and like many others have driven from store to store in order to find essential items. All I can say on the matter is we live in a first world country with a stable infrastructure for our freight and supply chain. We have more than ample supplies available for everyone so we needn’t buy everything we see just because it’s there. Nor should we forget common courtesy and compassion for others. One thing that I personally have implemented in my ‘circle of trust’ is to let each other know what we are in need of. By doing that your tribe can keep an eye out for those things and let you know when they come across them. Let’s help each other out during these challenging times and not make matters worse.

The ‘D’ Word

With all this talk of isolation and lockdown I believe that it is equally as important to discuss the possibility of mounting depression in society. Nobody really likes to talk about the ‘D’ word but with the vast majority of people stuck in their homes and no longer having direct contact with their loved ones we have to consider the very real fact that some people could become introverted, feel alone and get depressed.

This is why I have created the hash tag #staysafebutstayintouch

While it is important to stay safe and maintain our distance, it is equally as important to stay in touch with our loved ones and make sure that they are ok. Don’t rest of your laurels and assume that they are fine just because you are. Not everyone has the same coping mechanism and the ability to adjust to change or a disruption in ones regular routine. In saying that, here are some ways that we can all stay in touch:

- Send your family or friends a text message or an email. Leave a message on their socials or give them a call. Take the time to connect and reconnect with as many people as you can.

- Schedule certain days and times to chat with your loved ones. Then for any reason if they don’t answer and you can’t get a hold of them you know to go around their house to check in on them.

- If you know of someone who is self-isolating you could implement a note system in their front window. It could just simply be used to exchange messages or as a form of communication in case of an emergency. For example, one side of the card could read “Today, I am ok” and the other side could read, “I need your help”.

- Host online get-togethers or family dinners using video chats systems (such as Messenger, FaceTime, Skype or Zoom). Who wouldn’t like the idea of a virtual happy hour?

- Organise a get-together on your street, where you still maintain your distance but can come together as a neighborhood. Anyone wanna crank up the BBQ?

- If someone you know is celebrating a Birthday why not drive past their house with signs, toot the horn and sing “Happy Birthday”. Imagine how special they’d feel!

- If you are a singer or a musician why not perform live shows online or make recordings for people to share in your talent. Spread the love, not the virus.

It doesn’t take much to bring a smile to someone’s face so reach out to your loved ones and be the person that brightens their day.



How To Beat Boredom

With pretty much all of our entertainment, sporting and regularly scheduled activities either put on hold, temporarily closed or cancelled completely, we have in a way been forced to get back to basics and simplify how we live. But what to do with this abundance of free time on our hands?

Some people will automatically turn to those giant projects that they have had their eye on for donkey’s years. Others will be swamped with choice and not know where to start. A select few will be delighted in the thought of not having to do a single thing. Regardless of your motivation (or lack there of) it is usually helpful to create a list. You could write it on a piece of paper or type it into the notes app on your phone (like I do). There are several benefits to creating lists, let’s explore what they are . . .

Lists help to:

- Create order and collate your thoughts.

- Delegate the importance of tasks and give clarity on what should take priority.

- Manage your time effectively, which in turn can increase your productivity.

- Hold you accountable and keeps you on top of what you have or have not done.

- Give you a feeling of accomplishment.

- Keep you grounded, but also keep your brain mentally focused.

- Relieve stress and reduce anxiety.

To get started simply list the things that you would like to get done, prioritise them in order of most important to least important and then tick them off as you go along. By writing these things down you are acknowledging that they are of importance to you and are worth your time doing. Also, by planning ahead for your day, week or even the entire month, it sets you up for success because you know what your expectations are. Just remember that your list is not set in stone so be sure to keep it flexible. In so many ways the imposed restrictions has given us ‘time freedom’, which is a wonderful opportunity to do the things that we normally don’t have the time for. If you are looking for some ideas of things to do here is a list that I prepared earlier (in no particular order):

- Reach out to family and friends that you haven’t spoken to in a while.

- Do things that you have wanted to get done for a long time.

- Enroll in an online training course (such as the International Open Academy).

- Tidy a section of the house that you have been meaning to do for ages.

- Empty out the pantry and go through all the snacks that you’ve been hoarding for years.

- Learn a new skill (like playing a musical instrument, crocheting, knitting or macramé).

- Get your green thumb on and dabble in the garden.

- Get some fresh air and go for a walk.

- Hop on your bike and go for a ride.

- Kick a footy or soccer ball in the yard or down the park.

- Binge watch your favourite movies or tv shows.

- Listen to music and dance around the house.

- Read a new book.

- Play a board game.

- Complete a puzzle

- Colour in a colouring book.

- Create new daily routines.

- Start a new family tradition.

There are so many things that we could do with this extra time so embrace this change of pace and explore your options.


Working From Home

In light of this current situation many businesses have had to close their doors, which means that a lot of people have found themselves working remotely from home. While it takes some preparation and getting used to, working from home has a number of benefits:

- The ability to have a flexible schedule.

- More time to spend with your family.

- Saving time and money from not commuting.

- You get to be in the comfort of your own home.

On the flip side working from home can be a struggle for some people. They may be tempted by distractions, lack the ability to muster motivation, find it difficult to juggle work with looking after the kids or maybe they just can’t get a stable Wi-Fi connection. Regardless of your situation, here are some handy tips to help with this transition:


- Set the scene - prepare your work area in a quiet, relaxing and comfortable place, away from distractions.

- Create a daily routine - Set an alarm (I always set two), allow time for your own personal morning ritual and plan your day ahead (perhaps you could create a list).

- Dress appropriately - shower, put fresh clothes on and don’t wear your pajamas! It is a known fact that the way you dress can influence your mood, so “dress for success” in work attire and adopt the mindset of your role.

- Set boundaries and time limits - this will help you distinguish between ‘it’s go time’ and ‘family or down time’. Knowing what is expected of you for the day ahead will help increase your productivity.

- Take proper breaks - in order to stay focused on the task at hand it is essential to take time out for your brain and body to relax. Exercising and stretching the body motivates the mind, as does eating healthy meals and snacks.

- Stay away from social media - don’t fall into the trap of wasting your day away scrolling through feeds. Put it down!

- Maintain organisation - make sure to keep things tidy as there is nothing worse then trying to be motivated only to come back to a messy desk from the day before. End each day on a good note and set yourself up for the next.

- Stay connected - maintaining human interaction is important for your well being so whether its saying “hello” to the postman, having a brief chat with the shop assistant or phoning a friend, make sure to connect with someone throughout your day.

- Do what motivates you - everyone has different things that inspire them and ignites their inner spark. Whether it is listening to music in the background, stepping outside to get some fresh air or setting personal goals, find your motivation and let it empower you while you WFH (work from home).

Just remember it takes approximately 21 days to form a new habit so cut yourself some slack, don’t be too hard on yourself and just do your best.



How Working on Cruise Ships Prepares Crew for a Pandemic

My Hubby Lee and I used to work on cruise ships and throughout the past month or so it has occurred to us how much life onboard really does prepare crew for the unexpected. Take a look for yourself and see the similarities . . .

Crewmembers are used to:

- Living in close quarters.

- Being away from family and friends for long periods of time.

- Buying in bulk and shopping to last a week or even longer.

- Taking orders from the powers that be (big brother is always watching).

- Adhering to strict rules, curfews and following the chain of command.

- Having cabin inspections to ensure cleanliness.

- Being limited to what we are allowed to bring onboard.

- Being trained in crowd control and how to manage a crisis.

- Living in the moment and taking each day as it comes.

Let us not forget:

- Most crew have experienced code yellow or the dreaded code red (otherwise known as Norovirus) at least once in their cruise ship career.

- Personal hygiene is a must if you don’t want to end up in code red!

- There is a sanitiser station at practically every corner of the ship (especially near the food stations).

- “Washy washy” is a phrase that will forever haunt us in our sleep.

- You don’t go to the Doctor unless you are on your deathbed.

- Despite diversity, we come together in unity unlike any other place on Earth.

I just want to take a moment to send love across the seas to all the crew and guests that are still trying to get home after numerous weeks of being denied disembarkation. Keep your chin up and as Dori puts it so eloquently “just keep swimming”.



Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I am showing symptoms of Covid-19?

Self isolate!

What does it mean to self-isolate?

Self-isolating means to stay at home and completely avoid contact with other people. The mandatory time is 14-days. If during that time you were to unavoidably come into contact with another person you must start your self-isolation period again.

Who should definitely self-isolate?

- If you test positive to Covid-19.

- If you have been in close contact with a confirmed case.

- If you arrived in Australia after midnight on 15th March 2020.

- If you experiencing the known symptoms it is advised to self isolate.

Should I get tested for Covid-19?

You should get tested if you are showing symptoms and if one of the following applies to you:

- You have been in contact with a confirmed case.

- You have come back from travelling interstate or overseas.

- You are a health care worker or are at high risk.

Who is considered to be at high risk?

- People aged 65+ with chronic medical conditions (50+ for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or those who live in remote areas such as the Kimberley region).

- People in aged care facilities.

- People with Asthma or other respiratory related conditions.

- People undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

- People with compromised immune systems.

Where can I find out more information about the current Government restrictions?

Head to the Australian Government Department of Health website @

www.health.gov.au

Where can I find out more information about Covid-19?

- Contact the National Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 020 080 or if you live in Western Australian call 13 COVID (13 26843).

- Download the Coronavirus app or COVIDSafe app.

- Alternatively, seek information from the Department of Health in your respective state or country.

Where can I turn to if I am feeling Depressed?

Beyond Blue

1300 22 4636

www.beyondblue.org.au

Kids Help Line

1800 55 1800

www.kidshelpline.com.au

Lifeline

13 11 14

www.lifeline.org.au

Suicide Callback Service

1300 659 467

www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au

It is important to remember that you are not alone. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of courage, strength and hope. We are all in this together.



My sincere condolences go out to those that know someone who has succumb to the Covid-19 virus. May they rest in peace and be forever in your hearts.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. Look after yourself, look after each other and if you found this information helpful please share the link with your loved ones so that we can all #staysafebutstayintouch

Please note: I am not a medical expert so be mindful that the information within is written from my own perspective. Covid-19 is a real concern and must be taken seriously. If you or your loved ones experience relating symptoms please seek medical advice.