Confinement Diaries (4): Take a break

Amidst the chaos and unknown, COVID-19 has brought solidarity to people from around the world to fight for a single cause. Doctors and nurses taking care of patients, business owners closing down their livelihood, students finishing their studies online, parents having to attend to their children in isolation. The world has quickly changed before our very eyes. Wherever you are, you are assuming some responsibilities for your well-being and the well-being of others. That is why the Campaign for Human Responsibilities has put together a collection called the Confinement Diaries. Written by global contributors, our intention is to share people's perspectives from all over the world on responsibilities in line with our Declaration for Universal Human Responsibilities’ four pillars: change, choices, capabilities and community, in several different capacities. Each perspective is unique, and together, shows how all individuals, globally and close to home, are contributing to the collective good in doing their part to combat COVID-19.

We welcome you to read, share, and contribute in this historic period of time.


Take a break so that you can contribute better

Gili Trawangan (Bali, Indonesia) 2018, Giuliana E. Salazar-Noratto

When the official lockdown started and I was mandated to stay at home and work remotely, I was first overwhelmed, then at ease. I quickly realized that by not having to get ready in the mornings or to commute to work, I could sleep in, which I love doing. Because the gyms were closed, I started running outside, which boosted my self-confidence. When I didn’t run, I walked around my neighborhood (while keeping a safe distance, of course). I started smelling flowers and hearing the birds chirping. I slowed down, along with the world around me, and I found peace and quiet during the lockdown. Or, at least, a part of my mind did.

With everything going on in the world, another part of my mind was definitely not at peace and growing anxious by the minute. It was hard for me to ignore that I could enjoy the lockdown because I was in a position of privilege; because I had a secure job, a roof over my head, and money in my bank account. I felt increasingly bad for people getting laid off and for those who work all kinds of odd jobs to earn their daily bread. How would they eat now? My sister is a nurse, and I also worried insanely that something could happen to her and to all other heroes who were—and still are—putting their lives on the line to treat people. To make matters worse, I read recently in the news that, in India, Mexico and other places around the world, doctors and medical staff were being spat on and attacked. I worried even more.

In fact, I worried so much that I lost count of all the things that are going wrong with the world now. For example, just recently, fake news delivered me a low blow. We all know fake news are bad, but when fake news directly targets the confidence we ought to have on science, I personally believe it to be a great disservice to humanity. The fact of the matter is that we are where we are because of advances in science and medicine. Science has allowed us to significantly reduce childhood mortality, double our lifespan (comparing to medieval times), and save millions of lives from diseases, both chronic and acute.

After fake news about Covid19 exploded in social media, I tried to fight it by sharing scientific facts and reliable resources. It felt like screaming into a void. The more I tried to explain why the videos being shared were fake and that the discredited scientists were neither telling the truth nor reliable, the more people turned away from facts. It was exasperating and, at the same time, sad. I barely slept two nights in a row. Then, it wasn’t only me who was worried. My mom worried, and so, I had to stop. I didn’t want to affect other people, and I didn’t want to worry myself to death. After all, I am responsible for myself and for how my actions affect the people I love.

I closed my laptop. I slept. I binge-watched Gossip Girl, a guilty pleasure of mine. I rested. I also reflected on my situation and concluded that, if I really want to help, I can’t be drained or engaging in a screaming match. Instead, I can find organizations or causes through which I can make a positive impact and help people and society. In that sense, Citizens Alliance was a great find.

When the lockdown started lifting, I started to worry again, about people taking the new measurements too lightly, about a second wave of infection, and so forth. I worried, but only slightly, because I realized there was a pattern to my worries. Every time something changes, I worry. I first worried about how we were going to deal with the lockdown, then about the different things that were happening and changing during the lockdown, and finally about the lifting of the lockdown. It’s natural, really. Physiologists have known for decades, if not centuries, that humans don’t like change, almost as much as we dislike incertitude. Alas, we are living in a time of rapid change and high incertitude. Our minds are in high alert all the time, and they need to take breaks.

Somebody once wrote “It’s alright to take a break; just don’t quit!”, and it later went viral, because it’s true! We are overstimulated by technology, inundated with information, overwhelmed by change, and filled with pessimism about the dark future that awaits us (more pandemics, climate change, etc.). In fact, a study came out recently by the Boston Consulting Group that showed that younger generations tend to worry significantly more about the future, and this held true across several countries around the globe. It’s too much, and we need to take a break. We need to rest, pamper ourselves, and remind ourselves that it’s ok to be a little selfish sometimes, whether it’s with our time or our energy. We need to rest, but that doesn’t mean we should quit in trying to make the world a better place.

I genuinely believe that, in order to help people, society and/or the world, we need to be in the right mindset; and that to get to that right mindset, sometimes we need to unplug, take a walk outside, smell the flowers, hear the birds chirping, and eat a piece of chocolate cake. Or two.

A wise woman in Gili Trawangan island (Bali, Indonesia) once told me, “chocolate cake doesn’t go to your hips; it goes directly to your heart.” It was almost midnight and she was definitely trying to make a sale, and when she didn’t succeed, she went home, rested, and tried again the next day. She succeeded then. The cake was delicious.


Giuliana E. Salazar-Noratto | May 15th, 2020

The views expressed in this entry are solely the responsibility of the author.

This publication is non-profit.

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