For most of us, this self-isolation period is riddled with anxiety, delirium and endless snacks. Being inside all day has forced the majority of us to become more creative, more frugal, more patient, more grateful and has seemingly spurred a lot of new bakers! While this practice of social distancing is hard, there’s comfort in the idea that we’re all struggling in some way at the moment. At GRAZIA, we thought it would be nice to peek into the lives of other Australian women going through the same thing. Each day, we’ll bring you the honest tale of a woman, just like you, living her best inside-life from her little spot in America, The UK, Singapore, France, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. We’re all in this together and some shared tips during this shared experience might be the little pick-me-up you need today to shift some of that stale energy.
I live in a spacious and modern, three bedroom, two bathroom condo on the river. I share it with my boyfriend and our cat. It’s bright, sunny and has a study and a guest room (for all the people that aren’t visiting at the moment!). Even though we have only been here a few months, we shipped all our Bondi wares, so it already feels like home.
Singapore’s situation is interesting. Singapore was one of the earliest countries to be affected by the spread of COVID-19, and in early February it had the second highest number of cases after China. It was around that time that Singapore observed signs of community spreading and raised its outbreak alert level. Since then we have gone from being able to work in our offices but with mandatory temperature checks twice a day and scheduled WFH time, to WFH full time and social distancing becoming a law punishable by jail time.
The most interesting thing about Singapore is that it’s gone from 2nd highest number of cases to 47th on the global list, and has never actually gone into lockdown. Obviously it’s a small population, but we’re confined to a very small country where risk of community transmission is high. Yet, the government have been managing everything closely, tracing every single case, and imposing strong repercussions for not adhering to social distancing laws. Whilst the same social distancing measures as the rest of the world apply, many businesses are still open including shops, malls, hair salons and even some gyms. Clubs, bars and entertainment venues only closed last week!
Since COVID-19 swept the globe, the changes in Singapore have been really gradual… compared to other parts of the world. The typically vibrant city started to feel quieter, we started seeing more people with masks, and then finally some places started to close altogether. It’s been a gradual process of the city slowing down over about 8 weeks.
My daily routine starts with a run or a walk along the river as my yoga studio is closed. From there, I am still able to get a coffee although I have to have my temperature checked, and scan a QR code to provide my details and make a health declaration before I enter the venue. This is so that if a case is identified as having visited the location, the government can get in touch with every person who was in the same venue and issue them a Stay at Home notice. Singapore have so far been able to trace every single case in the country. I then settle into working from home. Fortunately, my partner and I live in a large apartment with a home office. We take it in turns based on who has the most calls to work in the office or from the dining table. It’s also nice to mix it up. If we are feeling really needy, we work at the table together!
I am taking part in a meditation group that a friend in Australia has organised. It’s a select group of women who are taking part in a daily meditation and journaling practice to help us to align on want we want for ourselves and the planet in this next chapter.
Connecting with my colleagues is much more challenging. We are relying much more heavily on collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, GSuite and Zoom. Like everyone else in the world, we have a weekly drinks catch-up on a Friday afternoon and are starting to integrate games like Charades and Trivia to make these more fun. The swimming pool in our condo building is still open, and even though there are staff patrolling to ensure rules are adhered to, we can end the day with a dip, and if we are feeling cabin-feverish we can still go out for dinner. Although, we will need to have our temperatures scanned, sanitise and fill out a declaration before we enter any venue.
I feel really lucky to be in Singapore during this time. Whilst we have been experiencing the impact of the pandemic for a little longer than other countries, the impact on our lives doesn’t seem to have been as extreme. People also seem less fearful here. I am not sure if that’s due to the experience of SARS and MERS in the past, the way the government has managed it (Singapore has been recognised as having had best in class management of the spread) or because we haven’t has this drastic overnight change to our lifestyles.
We are fortunate that we can still leave our apartments to go for a swim… get some lunch or go to the supermarket. Our shelves are also stocked, and apart from one day back in February when the alert was moved up, we haven’t seen any panic buying of supplies. That said, as responsible citizens we have found ourselves at home much more. We have had to cancel our travel plans, and have minimised social engagements. My partner and I have been playing many rounds of Jenga, Scrabble and Monopoly and feel as though we have exhausted Netflix and Apple TV. We’ve also drank a lot of wine and eaten a lot of Deliveroo!
The most challenging thing has been feeling isolated from our friends and family around the world. Being new to Singapore, we don’t know many people here. It’s a strange feeling to know that we can’t leave here, and that whilst we are here, we only have each other.
I am worried for the health of our family and friends in Australia, America and the UK, particularly our parents and older relatives. I feel optimistic that as a global community we will recover from this, however I am concerned about the impact on our local communities; the businesses, families and livelihoods that will be irreversibly damaged as a result.
The strangest thing I have seen is someone being wheeled out of a shopping mall on a gurney with three men in full surgical hazmat suits surrounding him. What makes it more strange is that the person seemed completely fine, and seemed to be bargaining with his supervisors. It honestly looked like a scene fresh out of an apocalyptic film.
My three tips for managing cabin fever include:
Journal – getting thoughts, feelings, fears, ideas out of your head and onto a page is the most restorative form of self-care.
Connect – we are fortunate to be living through a time where physical isolation does not mean social isolation. I am so impressed at humanity’s response to the crisis and how creative and resourceful people have been at connecting with one another. As someone who has lived overseas for 8 years, I have found it amazing how many people are now video calling and setting up online hangouts… where have you been the past 8 years!
Don’t say you’re bored – We should not be allowed to say we are bored. We have access to so many forms of entertainment, all of the the world’s information, and each other. The second you say you’re bored, you’ve been defeated. There is always something you can be doing. Our ancestors did a lot more with a lot less in far more challenging circumstances.
I will never complain about a busy calendar again! I don’t think I will ever complain about not having a free weekend, or having too many social engagements ever again.
I’m actually really grateful for social media. It’s gone from being our source of anxiety, to our source of sanity overnight. It’s been so great to be able to stay connected with my friends and family around the globe, and to not feel utterly isolated in this strange, new place. And without the connection, stories of hope, positivity and the hilarious memes, I’m honestly not sure where we would be.