Hi there! I have a lot of ideas for new blog posts, but with everything happening around us right now I wanted to address the current situation first, and give you my thoughts on this. Last weekend, I decided to leave London for a few days to visit some family back in Belgium. I was really excited to go home and celebrate both of my grandparents’ birthdays, catch up with my friends in Ghent and spend some time at home with my parents and sister. Little did I know I wouldn’t be able to do most of these things. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly and the people in Belgium, too, started to understand that to be able to slow down the spread of the virus and to prevent situations similar to Italy, we all have to be ready to contribute our part.
The situation in Belgium
If you’re curious, this is what the current situation in Belgium looks like (written on March 14):
(Feel free to skip this part if you’re here to hear some words of positivity!)
– In contrast to Italy (and now also Spain, who are entering a 15-day quarantine starting on Monday), in Belgium we’re still allowed to leave our houses. However, we’re encouraged to work from home to stagger public transport journeys and to not spread the virus at work.
– Cafes, restaurants, bars… are now closed. Some coffee shops and restaurants still offer the option to do takeaway
– Schools are closed, but should try to offer shelter for kids, so the kids wouldn’t be left to the care of their grandparents
– All sports related & cultural events are cancelled
– Supermarkets and pharmacies are still open, but other shops are closed during the weekends (and I suppose they’ll be asked to close during the week soon enough too)
– We can still take public transport, but trains are cancelled through rush hour
– We’re no longer allowed to visit any patients in the hospital (with some exceptions)
– We’re highly encouraged to stay at home when we feel ill, keep our distance, and not visit our grandparents or people who are at higher risk
My parents, sister and me are staying at home as much as we can right now, and so are most of the people we know. We realise very well that we’re not the unlucky ones, so we’re just trying to make the best out of it, by keeping ourselves busy and trying to go on with the things we were doing before.
So, although things aren’t easy and I’m anxious about what’s to come, I’m also grateful. Grateful to be in a place where I feel safe and grateful to live in a time where we can so easily connect with people, even though not in real life. I’m grateful to be able to Facetime my boyfriend whenever I want to, call my grandparents on the phone & talk to my friends, both those living in Belgium as well as the ones living abroad. As the things we used to take for granted all of a sudden have become a luxury (going for brunch, seeing your grandparents, meeting with friends), it’s so important to reflect on the things you do have, instead of focussing on the things we can’t do or don’t have right now. Never forget: it’s only temporary! This too will pass.
I love how people with a large following on social media are using their voice to spread awareness, give advice and encourage people to stay positive. Although I don’t have that many followers, I do want to make use of this blog and my Instagram to share some positivity (or escapism, every now and then). We’re in this together, so we might as well help each other go through this and make everything a bit more bearable! When people share encouraging, inspiring and hopeful posts, I’ll always save them so I can look back at them when I’m feeling anxious.
So… what now?
There’s a few other things I plan to do in the next days or weeks, to make the best out of this situation. Maybe it’ll give you some ideas on what to do yourself?
– There’s this small business idea that I’ve had for a long time. I’ve got all the ideas and I’ve researched all the steps I’d have to undertake, but I kept procrastinating actually starting it. Being “stuck at home” and not being able to do many other things gives me a lot of time which I definitely want to use to work on this! I hope to be able to tell you more about this soon, as it’s something I’ve been dreaming of doing for a long time! 😉
– Recently I started working as a freelance copywriter & social media manager. I’d love to take up some more projects, work on my portfolio and gain some more experience. It’s definitely a dream of mine to work as a freelance copywriter one day, but as it comes with some financial insecurity in the beginning, it’s hard for me to do that in an expensive city like London. Being at home and not having to pay rent & transport gives me some more freedom now!
Some things that help me relieve anxiety & stay positive … maybe they’ll help you too?
– Something that really helps me cope with stress or anxiety is decluttering and getting rid of stuff I’m not using anymore – from clothes I’m not wearing anymore to unnecessary documents on my laptop that take up space and books on my shelf I’m probably never going to read. Right now, I’ve got zero excuses to not do this. Also, living out of my suitcase for the past few months has made me realise I need a lot less stuff than I tend to think! So put on your favourite playlist and channel your inner Marie Kondo!
– Reading! I know not everyone likes this, so feel free to change “reading” to “binge watching”. The beauty about books (and movies) is that they can take us to another place and giving us a chance to escape from the stressful, overwhelming reality we find ourselves in. My current read is “The Gracekeepers” by Kirsty Logan.
– I know not everyone will be able to do this, but if you’re still allowed to leave your house and you live in a neighbourhood where you can go out without getting into close contact with a lot of people, try to go for a walk every now and then. Walking is a great way to reduce stress, boost your mood and relieve anxiety. Why not download a podcast to listen to whilst you’re walking? At the moment I’m listening to Diana Leeflang’s podcast “Hoe doe jij dat?” on Spotify.
– Stay educated, but allow yourself to have other thoughts and do other things, too! Hearing about nothing but the virus can be extremely overwhelming and constantly checking the news is only going to give you terrible anxiety. You’ll find that social media apps, which were designed to be pure escapism, are filled with corona related posts, too. I’ve decided that I’m going to check the news a couple of times a day, but try to not check it when I’m doing the things that make me happy. Facetiming with my boyfriend, reading a book, watching a movie or working on my projects, for example. Try to find something that you truly enjoy and that helps you to free your mind.
I hope I managed to encourage you to stay positive and to find something that brings you joy & helps you deal with feelings of anxiety right now. Soon, we’ll be able to live our normal lives again. In the meantime, I hope you’re safe & healthy ♥
*image source: Pinterest