Six positive actions to cope with coronavirus panic

By Judy Cooper


It can feel hard to stay positive when the entire world is in panic mode and all of us are being affected by an unseen and unstoppable force. Yet our greatest weapon in the face of this is calmness, adaptability and positivity.

Here are REAL’s top tips to make the most of self-isolation.

1. Reset your thinking.

Being forced to stay at home for up to 14 days provides a great opportunity to reset your thinking on a whole range of areas. Whether it is that long-put off brainstorming session on shifting your organisation to net-zero carbon emissions or reconnecting with your children. Use the enforced self-isolation, the lack of meetings, conferences and hallway chats to improve your future productivity and your inner health and wellbeing. Learn meditation, focus on your five-year plan, read and write more. Nelson Mandela stayed sane whilst in prison for so many years by realising freedom is a state of mind and he created incredibly visionary works as a result. Start researching and writing that book that you always thought about or start a blog. Dedicated time to think is one of the most precious commodities in today’s world so grab it and make it work for you.

2. Random acts of kindness

There’s nothing like a crisis to bring out the best and the worst in people. So, ignore the panic-buying in the supermarket and the fighting over toilet roll and focus on helping each other in your local area. Search your cupboards for vital ingredients for someone who can’t get a supermarket delivery or post jokes on social media and messaging groups to keep spirits high. This is a time to really focus on what matters. And guess what – it’s not toilet roll or hand sanitiser, it’s human kindness and empathy. Why not join a local voluntary group and help support vulnerable people who can’t shop. If the schools close then get the kids to write cards and letters to post through the letterboxes of the local elderly or join Age UK’s telephone befriending service to help those struggling with isolation. If you’re out walking, smile at people even as you pass them two metres away. And don’t forget that following the government guidance, washing your hands often and knowing when to stay home is the biggest act of kindness. It will help curb the spread of COVID 19 and prevent deaths. Make sure you keep checking if people are ok and encourage them to talk about their fears and worries as this will help make them feel more manageable.

3. Reduce carbon emissions and food waste.

The restrictions imposed by the coronavirus have seen mass cancelled flights, reduced travel, enforced food shortages and a curtailment of consumption. While massively disruptive these are also changes that are likely to be needed to ensure a future sustainable society.  So, use this as an opportunity to really think through how you can reduce your food waste and make everything in your house last twice as long as usual. Our lives are so busy normally that we focus on convenience. Now we have the time to think about a different way of doing things and embedding it into a routine. Cook and eat together as a family. Try experimenting with new recipes to use leftovers and back of the cupboard ingredients. Test how long you can last without going to the shops and consider buying a bread maker or pasta machine and get into the habit of using them regularly. If the schools end up closing, use it as a project to keep the children occupied. Get them to research websites and products that reduce waste such as or positive actions to take on and come up with their own plans. Organic pioneers like Riverford Organics have been inundated with new customer requests. If you can’t become a customer now, make a note to sign up to a food service that links you to the grower when the panic settles down. It’s not just getting food in the short-term, it could be a long-term health and sustainability life change. A future sustainable society is likely to mean most of us working and commuting less, being more involved in our local communities and growing food near to where we live, with more time with our friends and families. And on the upside, all these things have been found to increase human happiness.

4. Make technology work harder.

Technology is a huge consumer of natural resources and the reality is that we rarely use any of the technology in our home to its fullest potential. Use video conferencing, group messaging and social media to maintain human connection particularly with anyone you know who might be struggling with loneliness. If you usually meet up to go for a walk with someone – use video conferencing to do loungeroom floor exercises together instead. If you usually meet-up for coffee together – make sure you both have a drink during a skype chat. If you usually take a course, ask if the teacher might film a lesson and load it onto a video streaming channel.

Safia doing pilates with her mother over Skype

Image courtesy of Safia Minney.

5. Learn new skills.

f you are self-employed you might be spending most of your time looking at your fast depleting bank-balance. Take control and use the spare time you have to take a free online course in something that might help you when the world returns to normal. Start virtual and social media networking in earnest when many people might have the time to consider a quick phone chat with a stranger. This could be the perfect time to learn about digital marketing, spruce up that long-neglected CV or create your own website. Even if you are not self-employed, use the time saved on commuting to prioritise something from your long list of things you’d like to do such as learn a language or an instrument.

6. Exercise.

Keep up your exercise routines as much as you can. Intense aerobic exercise and relaxation exercises such as tai chi or pilates increase the endorphins in your body which maintain happiness. Go one step further, if you can, and try going to bed early and exercising outdoors in the early morning. The extra sleep is vital for your health and seeing nature gear up for spring with flowers, new growth and birds singing, will improve your wellbeing even further.

These are obviously just our views and not medical advice – but you knew that didn’t you?? Make sure you regularly check the government advice on how to stay healthy during the coronavirus pandemicas this is often changing quickly. Stay safe and stay healthy everyone!

Special thanks to El Horno Design and Illustration for this artwork promoting #ClapForOurCarers to thank NHS staff for the amazing work during this health crisis.