Lockdown Anthems: 50 Songs Across 6 Countries (+2 bonus tracks!)

Hello Survivor,

Nothing better than music to cheer up! Particularly in a difficult moment like the current one, people turn to certain songs to come together, despite social distancing, and lift our spirits. These songs may not be played with official trumpets, but they are still anthems of the confinement. Some places tend more towards uplifting (e.g. Spain), some let themselves fall into a little bit of depression (a.k.a. UK, where melancholy is more of a national product than fish&chips). Let’s take a look at how the currently top hit countries have approached this: US, Spain, Italy, Germany, France and UK. Our thoughts are with you – and our dance moves too!

(You can find the spotify playlist here)

United States of America

I feel sorry about Trevor, but I can’t stop laughing with this video.

As you can see in the video above, USA is not really into balcony singing. However, once you resolve to sing inside (and not too loud) the playlist from USA Today is not too bad, quite uplifting. Nothing like classic golden hits with social distancing relevant lyrics to cheer up.

SongArtist
Gimme ShelterRolling Stones
Let’s Stay TogetherAl Green
Don’t Stand So Close To MeThe Police
So Far AwayCarole King / Dire Straits
Stand BackStevie Nicks
Keep Your Hands to YourselfGeorgia Satellites
ImagineJohn Lennon
That’s LifeFrank Sinatra

Spain

Official #yomequedoencasa song with collaboration of 16 artist (not available on Spotify)

You can feel the sun shining in this uplifting list! (1/2) The top song among them – Resistiré, from Dúo Dinámico – has jumped from the 80s to the daily balcony applause that happens every evening through Spain, rising spirits (as well as some increasing tiredness after a number of repetitions). Also, special mentions to the comedy song from Olaya Alcázar, with a sweet melody but explicit lyrics, that has been played on loudspeakers by balcony Gestapo neighbours to encourage fellow residents to stay home.

SongArtist
Resistiré (I Will Resist)Dúo Dinámico / Multiple artists (2020 version)
Quédate En Tu Casa (Stay at home)(Multiple Artists)
Sobreviviré (I Will Survive)Mónica Naranjo
TusaKAROL G, Nicki Minaj
Safaera Bad Bunny x Jowell & Randy x Ñengo Flow
Baila conmigo (Dance with Me)Dayvi x Victor Cardenas x Kelly Ruiz
El Aguante (The endurance)Calle 13
Quédate en tu pvta casa (Stay at your f*** home)Olaya Alcázar

Italy

This song may sound familiar from the Netflix series Money Heist, but it’s a bit older.

It’s not easy to get a playlist for the Italian quarantine because it seems that they’ve sung pretty much anything – including a lot of regional/local songs. In a display that impressed the whole world, people from all over Italy went out to their balconies to sing and play all kind of instruments to cheer their neighbours. So in the face of a lack of consensus, we’ve chosen this list from Linkiesta.

SongArtist
Bella Ciao (Hello/Bye Beautiful)Antifascist resistance song, 1943
(versioned as soundtrack for Money Heist)
CrudeleColombre
RapideMahmood
Guerre FreddeComa_Cose feat. Stabber
O Core Nun Tene PadroneLiberato con 3D
Come Quella VoltaLaila Al Habash
ContentoFrah Quintale
Nuova Registrazione 527Mara Sattei feat. Tha Supreme
Quando Crollerà il GovernoLa Municipal
SettebelloCaleffi

Germany

If you don’t speak German, you can probably still guess they’re not really cheering.

When the first Italians went to sing from their balconies, a Sicilian friend said every country would do it – it was human nature. Well, as you could see from Trevor and this poor German guy, it’s not quite the case. However we could dig this ‘official playlist’ from which, in the spirit of featuring truly local music, you can find below a selection of the songs in German. Pair with a couple Jägerbombs for a full experience.

SongArtist
Quarantäne (Quarantine – Macarena parody)Stard Ova, Robin Wick
Allein Allein (Alone Alone)Polarkreis 18
Urlaub in Italien (Holidays in Italy)Erobique
Egal (Same)Michael Wendler
Geh Mal Bier Hol’n (Go Get Beer)Geier Sturzflug
20 Zentimeter (20 cm)Möhre
Küssen verboten (Do Not Kiss)Die Prinzen
Bruttosozialproduct (Gross National Income)Geier Sturzflug
Ich geh heut nicht mehr tanzen (I’m not going to dance anymore today)AnnenMayKantereit

France

(This cute song by schoolchildren is unfortunately not in Spotify)

From this playlist “Coronavirus à la française” – an interesting mix of mainstream music and actual war anthems. Watch the French, they know how to revolt!

SongArtist
La Vie Est Belle (Life is Beautiful)La Belle Vie
Ce N’Est Rien (This is Nothing)Julien Clerc
La Strasbourgeoise (war anthem)Colonel Salvat
Toi Mon Toit (You My Roof)Alma Vox
La Piscine (The Swimming Pool)Hypnolove, Voilaaa
Le Chant Des Partisans (The Partisan’s Song)Germaine Sablon
A La Plage (To the Beach)Juniore
La Danse De Daphnis (Daphnis’s Dance)Pavane
Écoute chérie (Listen, Darling)Vendredi Sur Mer

United Kingdom

This is the best thing I’ve seen in a long time…

Here’s the official top 10, according to BBC, led by football anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone. As expected, with a pinch of depression, because that’s the national sport in this country where the sun only comes out when we’re locked up. But hey, we Keep Calm & Carry On!

SongArtist
You’ll Never Walk AloneGerry and the Pacemakers
Locked UpAkon
Don’t Stand So Close To MeThe Police
LostFrank Ocean
LonelyAkon
Move Your FeetJunior Senior
ImagineJohn Lennon
It’s the End of the World as We Know ItREM
ReachS Club 7
Everybody HurtsREM

Bonus track #1

The catchy vietnamese hand washing song that went viral – including a brilliant challenge dance to show how to wash your hands:

That’s it, it’s already stuck to your head, it’s too late now.

Bonus track #2

The real top hit, the song that we have sung the most during all this time – twice every time that we washed our hands, which is about a million times per day!

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How to DIY Pandemic supplies: Homemade Face Mask for Dummies

As a good survivor, you’ll want to have the skill to make your own supplies – and since there’s no need for hunting your own food yet, let’s focus on hunting the things that may be in short supply but that you’ll still need at the moment. Today, we’ll focus on one key item: protective face mask.

As you may have seen in Italy, South Korea, China, etc – face masks will be mandatory any moment now. Funny, because they’re one of the most difficult things to find at the moment – it’d be like forcing everyone to have a tan in the UK. Most likely, governments will somehow distribute them at some point if when they manage to get their s*** together and resolve the logistics. In the meantime, you should have your own – and here’s how you can do it.

  1. Understand the fabric options

In a nutshell, you want a material that filters out as many particles as possible, but that you can still breathe through it – for example, vacuum bags are great at filtering, but breathing through can be difficult – especially if you happen to have a respiratory viral disease. In general, non-woven materials work better – such as paper, tissue, or polypropylene (e.g. these groceries bags that seem halfway between fabric and paper); next thing would be densely woven fabrics such as quilting cotton and batik fabric. You should have multiple layers – and you can combine fabrics as well. See here for more information.

In any case, before sewing (especially if you don’t have a sewing machine – you want to make sure it’s right before doing the sewing work) perform 2 test: the light test and the breath test.

Light test:

Pretty dress, but not great for a face mask.

“Hold it up to a bright light; if light passes really easily through the fibers and you can almost see the fibers, it’s not a good fabric. If it’s a denser weave of thicker material and light doesn’t pass through it as much, that’s the material you want to use.”

Dr. Scott Segal, chairman of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health who recently studied homemade masks.

Breath test:

Make sure you can breathe…

When you have your desired fabric combination, and before sewing, hold it tightly against your mouth and nose and ensure you can breathe comfortably enough. If you feel that you have to make an effort to breathe, lighten up the layers or change the fabric.

You’d want a face mask that passes both tests, that doesn’t filter light but also allows you to breathe. In case of conflict, breath test is priority. Any face mask is better than nothing; but you shouldn’t make the remedy worse than the disease – if you can’t breathe through, it’s useless.

2. Choose a pattern and check you have you have everything you need

Ensure you have everything you need riiiight here.

There are tons of tutorials around. Choose the one that suits you better and before starting, make sure you have all the pieces you need.

[16/04/2020 Edit] CDC Approved non-sewing mask:

In the example above, you need 1 piece of main fabric of 24×19 cm (~9 1/2” x 7 1/2“), and 2 pieces of lining of 18 x 13 cm (~7 3/32” x 5 1/8“); you’ll also need an iron to press the fabric, some clips to hold the folds temporarily, sewing machine / thread and needle, a safety pin, and elastic (I’d say about 1 m / 3 ft to be safe). This one has a pocket for disposable non-woven fabric as well, such as dried wipes, so you’ll need that too.

3. If you don’t have something, find alternatives – and test

Unless you’re a professional tailor, it’s likely you don’t have everything on the tutorial – a sewing machine, that kind of elastic, etc. If getting them is a problem, then find alternatives, but make sure you test them first. E.g. try the rubber band from the vegetables to see if it’s comfortable enough on your ears. Test some hand sewing on a spare piece of fabric. For some reason most of the tutorials around presume you have a sewing machine as a home essential, but guess what – most of us don’t. No worries; it may take slightly longer, but we can sort it out. There are a lot of tutorials around, like this one:

The purpose of testing in a spare material is getting the right technique, and also ensuring the stitch is strong enough. From the video above, backstitch is probably the best for this.

Also you may want to play smart and superglue or staple your way out of sewing – not really recommended for this, as these stitches require precision and a soft finish and you’ll be wearing the result of your experiment on your face. Feel free to test with care, but if I were you I’d avoid gluing your fingers together and practise sewing instead.

4. Go for it!

You have the ingredients and the recipe – now it’s the time for action! See the whole video before starting, to ensure you don’t have any surprises. Don’t expect it to be perfect; if it works, it’s good enough. My advice: ensure you have enough material for at least a second try.

5. Learn how to use it

Ok, so let’s imagine you are over the I have no idea what I’m doing drama by now and you have something similar enough to a shiny new face mask – you are done here, right? Well, there are a couple things to make sure you know before you’re done with this. As all PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) it has to be used properly. In our case, it means it has to be handled, replaced and cleaned properly to be effective – otherwise it can be even worse than nothing. Tips:

  • Never touch the front of the mask to remove it, and if you do, wash your hands immediately.
Seems obvious, but after all the sewing you may want to make sure you don’t f*** up and use it properly.
  • Sterilise your mask after every use using hot water, soap and disinfectant.

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20 Astronaut Tips to Avoid Going Crazy (And Be Productive) on Lockdown

Didn’t know that Big Bang Theory actors qualify as astronauts.

Hello, survivor!

There are tons of to-do lists, health tips and isolation activities around – but often the first step is the most challenging one, which is to get in the mood to actually do it instead of just lounge all day scratching your belly and alternating between the thoughts of Armageddon and the need for more toilet paper. We know how difficult it can be to get out of that loop, so we’ve gathered some expert tips to help put you in shape to take action.

Following on our advice for isolation from cloistered nuns, we’re bringing some more expert advice here to survive isolation – without going nuts and even being productive! This time it comes from astronauts, some of which have spent months isolated in the International Space Station, apart from actual medical quarantine periods before boarding the spaceship – so they might know a bit about this. We have compiled input from a number of these space explorers, including Chris Hatfield, Tim Peake, Anousheh Ansari, Nicole Stott, Tom Jones, Rusty Schweikart, Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu, Scott Kelly, Peggy Whitson and Anne McLain. If they made it in space, you can make it at home!

1. Keep the bigger goal in mind

Stock yourself with the purpose of this whole coronavirus pandemic isolation. We’re saving lives. It is estimated in the thousands already for individual countries – if you want to be more precise, find a calculator here. When you find yourself desperate, remember that this effort you’re making is part of a team that is actually achieving things and saving people from death.

2. Communicate effectively

Everything is better with puffins.

If you’re sharing your space with someone, it is very important that you communicate clearly – as well as listen. Little quirks that are OK for you e.g. putting your feet on the table, might turn others crazy – and vice versa. If you’ve ever had a flatmate, you know what that means. Now it is especially important to pay attention and clarify any possible issues as early as possible, as there is plenty of time for them to build up and turn into tension or fights.
If you live alone, it’s equally important to communicate with yourself – not meaning that you should have conversations with household items. Rather than speaking to the lamp, listen to yourself: is it working for you?

3. Take care of yourself and those around you

Following on the point above, it’s important that you keep yourself functioning: eat healthy, do some exercise, keep your mind busy and healthy too. And do the same with your family and those around you. This maintenance will allow you to have the strength to tackle all the other challenges. Keep this purpose in mind when you feel lazy about doing these things.

4. Understand the problem you’re facing

True, I used to fear spiders until I went to Australia. Now European spiders seem like ladybugs.

Chris Hadfield, the man who commanded the ISS, has a great way to face his fears – become an expert about it. Breaking down the fear into the actual risks and evaluating them, we often discover that the fear is not proportional to the actual risk – and also, we build an action plan for the actual dangers. So if you haven’t yet, learn what Coronavirus is and how it is transmitted, from trusted sources – official advice: US/UK. That will help you prevent it and fight it. See the video above for some great inspiration – and a pinch of David Bowie 🙂

5. Choose your goals

Following on Chris Hadfield’s system, the next step is to choose your goals. Get your ducks in a row. If you need inspiration you can check our list. Be ambitious, but realistic. Learning to play violin from scratch might be slightly too far (and a bit painful for the neighbours too), but maybe it’s the perfect moment for reading that book in your list. Or to make your own face mask. This is your chance – what would you like to achieve?

6. Examine the constraints

Once you have chosen your goals, what’s in the way? Say you want to have an indoor garden, but you killed the last poor cactus you had. Well, do a bit of research and find exactly what you need. Maybe you need a planter; you can order online, or find tutorials about how to make them from recycled containers. Maybe you tend to water it too much; track how often you do it and place a Don’t drown me post-it on the pot. Every hurdle can be matched to a solution that works for you. Also, this breakdown of challenges will allow you to face pretty much anything in life.

7. Take action

No spoilers.

Divide and conquer all over again. Plan your hours, day, week, month, break down your list of actions from the point above. Organise your routine to make sure you achieve everything you want, but leave room for changes as you go along. Start ASAP. Get an easy task first just to put you in the flow, and feel the achievement, then face bigger tasks first and after that everything will look easy 🙂

8. Build a routine

You’d be surprised how silly animals of habit we are. Our brain falls on what we’re used to, by default. If you arrived home and fall on the sofa every single evening, your autopilot would take you there again and again with no effort. Breaking with that routine is an opportunity then – we just need to build healthy habits. Start your day in a different way than you used to, and set a repetitive plan to work on your goals: set a place, a time, and all the props you need. Try to be smart about it – if the place is bed and the prop is your pillow, the conflict with sleeping won’t make you very productive (or your sleep very restful). Suit it to yourself: are you an early bird or a night owl? In any case, after a few days of your new routine, your brain will take you there by default.

9. Be patient

Rome wasn’t built in a day; and you can’t turn yourself from a sack of potatoes into a healthy, fit, artist, influencer, multilingual and philosopher in a day. Remember the breakdown of tasks and just keep going one step at a time, without missing any steps. This is especially important in the first days, when you’re setting up your new routine. And be aware that whenever you start something, you feel completely useless. It’s part of the learning process. Actually, the worse you start, the more difference you will notice as you grow – keep a record. Stay patient and eventually you’ll see the results.

10. Vary your activities

The whole point of this is to not get bored, so make sure you include variety in your plan. I remember a friend I used to live with, a medicine student, speaking about her stressful vocation:

So when you choose to study Medicine, it’s like – ok, I like mac&cheese, I’m going for it. You’re happy and everyone is for you. But then you go and find a whole swimming pool full of mac&cheese and you have to jump in it and eat the whole thing NOW. And that’s today, tomorrow, and every day of your life for at least the 6 years you’re studying.

Espe, my flatmate – now a Pediatrician

Don’t force yourself into something if you don’t have to. Set your goals but, include some creative activities, exercise, time for friends and family, and to try new things. What would you like to try?

11. Connect to family and friends

It’s easier to forget if you’re an introvert, and more challenging if you live alone, but it’s essential to keep your human connections and your mind healthy. Make sure you get face time, even if it’s a video call, with your loved ones. If any of your loved ones is a drama queen (that happens, you’re not alone), you might need to manage how much you let that influence you, but don’t cut the line. The patience you build to deal with them will be useful for you too. It’ll all help you and them stay sane.

12. Stay fit

I’ve mentioned the gravity field of the sofa before. Don’t let yourself fall in this black hole! You need to move, and though the first try might be literally painful if you haven’t done anything in a long time, it’ll all pay off. Be sensible, build up. Yoga for example can go from relaxing beginner stretches to challenges that would take you years to accomplish. Remember that a small but constant effort is what really counts over time. Listen to your body, get some research: what’s your thing? Then DO it, get over the initial piece of rotten wood feeling and repeat until you realise you actually feel much better 🙂 It’ll help you clear your mind and give you more energy to face any other challenges, as well.

13. Take time for fun

You’ll need an outlet that is neither work/productivity nor maintenance; reserve some time for fun. Series, games, chatting with friends; with moderation, it’s essential to stop you from going nuts.

14. Be creative

Take this time as a chance to see thing from a different perspective, to create something; to paint, DIY, learn music, even rearrange your living room or turn empty beer cans into an opera concert. Being creative is fun and it gives you a purpose. Don’t be afraid to be silly, you can get great things from that.

15. Educate yourself

This is the best possible time for isolation is now. You’ve got all the knowledge in the world at the reach of your hands. You can learn languages, read thousands of books, get lost in Wikipedia, learn about your next trip; there are tutorials for pretty much anything, even virtual visits to museums. Take advantage of this and feed your mind too – there’s life beyond memes. Think of what you’d like to learn and go for it!

16. Monitor how things go

Monitor the global situation, to know how it’s evolving and how it affects your plans (maybe that trip you had in mind?), also to give you a push for any good news that come (e.g. countries that are flattening the curve). Monitor yourself too; see if you feel well, if you need anything, if you’re bored, etc so you can react accordingly. Successful people dedicate some time every morning to ask themselves : is this the right route? And if not, make any necessary amends.

17. Be positive

(Except for the COVID-19 test)

There is a silver lining to all this. A clear one is how people are coming together despite the distance: people singing in the balconies, offering help to others, cheering for health professionals, and how these professionals are pushing beyond their strength to save lives. All this shows a beautiful side of humanity that we’ll want to keep – maybe we’re not as crap as we thought.
Look into yourself as well and find the opportunities this brings to you, such as spending more time with your family or having more time for yourself and the things you always wanted to do.

18. Be aware of your own influence

We used to be part of a hustle and bustle where we feel like a speck of dust. Being at home, in a smaller environment where you are a very significant part of it, can be a chance to evaluate your individual impact. Your impact in yourself, your life, your house and your family, how you make a difference – and then extrapolate that to the bigger picture of us all. We’ve seen, for example, how these individual actions are changing the trend on the coronavirus expansion, and how it has greatly reduced the pollution levels. It’s a great moment to acknowledge that your grain of sand counts.

19. Get some perspective

Getting out of our usual routine is a great chance to step back and reevaluate things. We are discovering how human, and how fragile we can be. We are surviving without many of the things we used to have – were they all necessary then? Can you make your life simpler? Also, we have understood how we’re all connected – keep the bigger picture.

20. Hang on to the lessons learnt

Never let a good crisis go to waste.

Winston Churchill

You’ve probably heard from the 2008 crisis that in Chinese, the word for ‘crisis’ is also used for ‘opportunity’. Crisis revolve everything and when the dust settles, things are not like they were before. Take that chance to put yourself in a better place. Keep what you have learnt about the world, about the new perspective gained about humanity, how we can come and act together, how we can overcome difficult situations. Also, anything you have discovered about yourself, any useful new routine you have acquired. What are you learning from this? Have you learnt to appreciate what’s really important? Have you realised your life can be simpler? Hold on to any lessons and let them help you through the rest of your life.

Sources: Business Insider, Euronews, BBC

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10 Photos of Ghost London with Social Distancing [Before and After]

When a man is tired of London,
He is tired of life.

Samuel Johnson

London can be as tiring as life is sometimes. Everything used to happen here – concerts, shows, events of all kind, hordes of tourists sweeping the streets, startups creating and reinventing in Shoreditch, bankers juggling with the world’s economy. All in the same place at the same time – it’s impossible to get everything; because we can only physically be in one place at a time, and also because for any good weekend plan there’s a limited capacity and millions more thinking about that great idea. Hustle and bustle is an essential part of some places in London and so, its absence these days is a symptom that something is happening. The photos below show clearly how coronavirus COVID-19 isolation has changed how we live our lives.

If that makes you anxious, I would like to offer you the chance to give it a twist. Think of it as a breathing exercise. Look at one crowded photo, picture yourself in the middle of the crowd. Imagine the selfie sticks, the chitchat in multiple languages; or the silent but relentless army-like procession of people in station rush hours. Feel the stress and yourself moving along with it in the direction you’d be heading. Breathe in for a few seconds in this feeling. Then hold your breath for a couple seconds while you move to the next (empty) photo. Feel the peace and quiet while you breath out slowly. It seems silly, but I’m sure you’ll feel better after it.

  1. Buckingham Palace
©PA Media/BBC
©PA Media/BBC

2. Trafalgar Square

© Evening Standard
© Andy Parsons

3. Leicester Square

©Paul Chambers
©Twitter

4. Piccadilly Circus

© Stephanographie
© Andy Parsons

5. London Eye

© E.Kaspersky
© Twitter

6. Liverpool Street Station

© David Peters
©Twitter

4. Chinatown

© Oast House Archive

5. King’s Cross station

© Unknown
© Twitter

3. Oxford Street

© Giulio Jiang
© Andy Parsons

3. The Underground

©Evening Standard
©MyLondon

Hope you enjoyed the photos. Please feel free to share and comment =)

Stay home, stay safe, stay sane!

10 Tips for Isolation From Cloistered Nuns

Hello, survivors!

I’ve come across a great article with invaluable advice from cloistered nuns in Cádiz, south of Spain – some of the most experienced people in staying isolated from the world. Their experience can be very helpful in the difficult times of coronavirus COVID-19 global pandemic, for our lockdown in isolation. For you Spanish speakers, you can find it here. For the rest of you I’ll translate it below.

*In my non-native English, I’ve tried to keep it as loyal to the original text as possible, while trying to avoid things that would sound weird. Hope it’s good enough. Enjoy!*

Columbario. Alberto Campo Baeza, 1998. Image from Carmelitas Descalzas Cádiz

[]

1. ATTITUDE OF FREEDOM.
The most fundamental thing is the attitude with which you live, the interpretation that you make of the situation, the awareness that this is not a defeat. Paradoxically, this can be an opportunity to discover the most genuine and greatest freedom: the inner freedom that no one can take from you, the one that comes from yourself. Eventually, the authorities enforce us to be at home; your freedom consists of adhering voluntarily, knowing that it is for a higher good. Free is the one who has the capacity to assume the situation because they want to do the right thing. You are not locked up at home, you have chosen to stay there freely.

2.PEACE WHERE THE SOUL EXPANDS.

Look within yourself, the widest space to expand and be happy is in your heart; you do not need external spaces, but to walk comfortably in your inner world. Give room for creativity, listen to your own inspirations and find the beauty of which you are capable. Perhaps you have not yet discovered that in the peace of the soul, life blossoms… life is the creation of more life, communication of joy and love. When you get used to living in yourself, you don’t want to go out anymore.

3. DON’T NEGLECT, PEACE HAS TO BE WORKED.

Exercise virtues that require concentration and self-knowledge, those that we normally neglect because we are busy with a thousand ‘external’ tasks. Whether you live in heaven or hell depends on how you deal with your own emotions and thoughts, the management of your senses and passions. Observe yourself and dominate yourself; because if you let yourself be carried away by fear, sadness or apathy, you will hardly cut the thread, since there are not many evasions. Discipline your heart: when some thought does you no good, throw it away. Try to lean towards everything you notice that gives you peace and joy… harmony needs hard work.

4. LOVE

The trending topic for these days will be coexistence. In the face of the pandemic crisis, we are more susceptible and even irritable. Quite often you’ll have to be very patient and use common sense. We are diverse, each one has a different sensitivity due to thousands of circumstances. Accept and respect the opinions and feelings of others. It is very common, when we are at home, that we aim to control everything … Try not to, it would be the cause of many confrontations and frustrations. Downplay differences, empower things that unify. The only terrain that really belongs to you is yourself: your thoughts, words and emotions; don’t control others, control yourself. From love you will get understanding and empathy, the desire to give and thanks when receiving. Respect, embrace fragility, don’t dramatise, live and let live.

5. DON’T KILL TIME

Nothing can create such a feeling of emptiness and boredom as spending time uselessly. It is a very serious enemy that can steal your peace, and even get you depressed. Make a plan for these days and try to live it with discipline. Rest and occupation are not antagonistic, take the opportunity to rest doing activities that relax you or stimulate a good mood. Take your time in the simple things: that the onion is poached, the meat is tender, the stew is slow cooked… We have time! Even if a stew takes you 2 hours, enjoy making it; but try that the things you do, as simple as they might be, have value and a purpose – not to waste meaningless time. Killing time is killing life.

6. BROADEN YOUR OWN BORDERS

How many times have we complained about everything we didn’t due because of a lack of time? Well, now we have it! That book that they gave you three Christmases ago and you haven’t read, that one that you haven’t yet returned because you left it in half. If you like music, look for new artists, discover new genres. Do you fancy a trip? Think of some exotic country and learn about its culture, league, traditions… we have the internet for that. If you are a person of faith and prayer, perhaps you don’t know what to pray because you have already exhausted everything you knew. Try looking for liturgy; search in the writings of some saint, surely you will find many things that will fill your soul with new lights. Do not settle for what you already know and know… now that there is an opportunity, open yourself to news that brings you wisdom and fills you with joy.

7. FOR THE MOST SENSITIVE

Realistically, not all of us dominate emotions the same. There will be people who, because of their psychology, will find this confinement much more difficult. Emotions not only come from within us, but what we see, hear, touch, etc. influences us. Therefore, we must be selective with what we receive from outside to avoid entering vicious circles that trap us in despair or make us lose control. Avoid as much as possible: pessimistic conversations, arguments, dirty looks, excess information, horror movies or intrigue, home quarrels. As there aren’t many evasions that make us change our “chip”, everything that enters our brain will stay there for longer than usual, so we must be careful not to obsess or allow a negative emotion to nest within us. The excess of screens is also bad, because it over-stimulates the brain and makes us more nervous. You have to sleep well, but too much can cause a feeling of failure or defeat. A great remedy to channel energy and relax is dancing. Put on good music and laugh a long time dancing. Nothing like laughing to restart our inner system.

8. YOU ARE NOT ISOLATED

It is important to understand that you don’t have to feel alone, because you aren’t. The love and affection of your people is still there, although the physical contact has distanced itself. This is an opportunity to experience communication on a deeper, more intimate level. Talk to those you have at home with ease, without rushing, listen to them until they are done, let the dialogue build trust and confidences build complicity. Say what you never have time to say, tell what you have always wanted to tell, talk about everything and nothing but with affection, which is what reaches the soul and makes a nest. Answer that Christmas postcard that you did not thank, the letter that moved you and to which you were postponing an answer, that e-mail of an old friend. Look for words with beauty, try to give expression to your noblest feelings … Speak from the heart and create deeper ties with your people. You will discover that distance is not absence.

9. DAY OF REFLECTION

In order not to get overwhelmed, it is also convenient to look for moments of silence and solitude. In the time management for these days, you should also have slots for individual oxygenation. I have heard tons of people say: I wish I could retire some days to a monastery! Well the occasion is here, at home. Ordinarily we get tired of the fast paced lives we live, as if we were out of control from the daily routine without time to assimilate our lives. We expect substantial changes in society – this cannot continue like this, we also hear a lot. Well, we have this opportunity to get into a cocoon like the little worm that turns into a butterfly. Reflect, think, meditate… What can I change in myself to be better after these days? The distance to the things that we ordinarily have in our hands will help to see if we are really putting the accent on those that matter; which others things we can let go, which are irreplaceable, etc. A good evaluation to improve will make these days very useful. We’ll be a new person after this crisis.

10. PRAY.

Only prayer (which is the bond of friendship with God) can sustain life in all situations, especially adverse ones. Prayer, as St. Teresa would say, last but actually the first one. Praying is opening up to that Other who can sustain me when I need help; but also when I am well, to pray is to support others who need it. It is the most universal experience of Love. Pray, talk to God, the hours will pass without you realising it: talk to him about everything, he never tires of listening to you, vent with Him when you need it – and why not? … let him vent with you as well, he is your Father, your Brother, your Friend. Exercise your faith and your confidence. If you left the relationship with God in the sailor suit of your first communion or in that beautiful white dress (note for non-catholics: 10 years old), try again, now there is time and serenity to talk with Him. Maybe you do not believe because you have not tried. What if you try?

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The good thing is that the keys are there and then, you can mould it to your own experience. For example, you may prefer meditation or yoga instead of prayer. Or perhaps you’ll enjoy better painting or reading a book rather than making a 2 hours stew. It’s up to you 🙂

Stay safe, stay sane!

COVID-19: 5 Reasons Why We Will Get Over It

Hello, survivors!

Ok, enough with the panic. By now we are all almost qualified epidemiologists. A million times now we have heard, studied and researched about the virus, why it is different, how it propagates, and how to deal with it in general (and if you haven’t, please do – check the official advice for UK and US). We know what we have to do, which is basically wash our hands and stay at home. Doomsday is not coming anytime soon, and here you’ll find some reasons why:

1. We already have a lot of survivors

Photo by Freepik

Check the live data to see figures for recovered cases. About 96.7% survive (source) or over 99.5% if you’re under 50 (source). Ok, it is a lottery that nobody wants to win, and it can be devastating if it does reach a loved one. But we have to deal with things as they come: worrying too much can build stress and make us less effective in dealing with what we currently have in front of us. So wash your hands, keep your grandma safe and stay positive: all the social structures will remain in place once this is over. Even doomsday preppers say it’s not end game. One day, pretty soon, we will all be back to talking about the weather.

In the Plague game, to win (playing as the virus), you need to eradicate every single human in the planet. Sorry Coronavirus, but you have lost that battle!

2. We have been through worse

Photo by Wellcome Collection

Was I the only one to research about Black Death when I saw how this was going? I hope not – but in any case, it can be selfishly comforting to see that we are doing waaaay better than that, and we are not going to get anywhere even remotely close. Back then, it killed 30% to 60% of the population in Europe – if we could meet any of the survivors, they would laugh at the global outcry for an overblown flu where most people heal in less than a week with paracetamol, lemon and honey. Spanish flu might seem like a closer relative – fun fact: it didn’t originate in Spain, but actually most likely in the US – however, we are much more prepared now. Getting whole countries to stay at home was a bit more challenging in 1918 I World War circumstances – Netflix and memes weren’t as popular back then.

3. We can stay in touch with everyone

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Think of the 14th Century poor peasant in plague times. Back then, your world was your village. Whatever happened outside didn’t matter much and whoever moved out of it disappeared from your life – they may be healthy, but who knows?

However, nowadays we know instantly if our friend in the opposite hemisphere bought toilet paper – we may be going a bit too far in sharing information, but hey, we are definitely able to stay in touch. We can keep our social bonds together, and also send and ask for help anytime – there are options even for seniors who are not as tangled in the social networks as us.

Our village is spread across the world wherever there’s internet connection. Anytime, we can take the digital version of a chair to the street – Facebook/Skype/Whatsapp/etc – and gather, like the old ladies in my hometown’s summer evenings, sitting down to gossip with the neighbours of our choice while criticising anyone who passes by. So let’s take advantage and enjoy the evening together.

4. We are well informed

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

Though the beginnings of the outbreak in China could have been a bit more transparent, nowadays even if a country tries, there is a limit to how much information they can hide from the world – e.g. we all had a little ironic smile when the Iranian deputy of Health, that denied covering up the cases, was confirmed positive a couple days later. We can share the experience from one country to another to learn any necessary lessons – right, Boris?

Also, at a personal level, we have access to a lot of information that will help us get over the self-isolation times – and maybe even take advantage of it; for example, see our list of lockdown resolutions.

5. We are all united against it

Photo by Patrick Case on Pexels.com

The troll community has taught us a lot of what humanity can do if we join forces – even if just to see the world burn. Ask the research vessel Boaty McBoatface, whose name was left to an open competition; the mass collaboration to get Taylor Swift to play for a school for the deaf, among a few other 4chan community ‘achievements’.

If this is just for a laugh, imagine what we can do when things get serious. Nothing joins more than a common enemy – see how all Brits traditionally bond over complaining about the weather. And if we are smart enough, once we get over this, maybe we can keep it going and tackle climate change together? Let’s come back to that in a couple months. Coronavirus is doing its bit to help in the meantime.

See? It’s not all that bad 🙂 Any other positive thoughts?

Stay safe, stay sane!

Lockdown Resolutions: Things To Do At Home

Hello, survivor! Missed the 2020 New Year Resolutions? No worries, you get a second chance now. We have some serious home time coming – which may sound like desperately boring to some, but it can actually be a great opportunity. If you’re wondering what to do at home all this time, keep reading to get some ideas:

1. Save money!

Yes, it’s a perfect time to save in travel, commute, eating out… If you live in places like London or New York, you know that even breathing outside your house is expensive. Take advantage of staying home and save some money – just remember to keep your sanity and not screw it by panic buying, ordering too much take away, getting too many new subscriptions, etc. See here an example list of what you need and what you don’t for groceries. Try to use Amazon ‘Add to Wishlist’ rather than ‘Buy now’ so you can see all your potential spending together and sort out what you really need – a.k.a. the Marie Kondo shopping; but be careful with the ‘spark of joy’, everything sparks when you don’t have it yet.

Keep track of your new expenses and ensure they make sense with the recommended couple week supply and with your savings – remember that it’s not the end of civilisation, and most services will still be running. It might be a good time to educate yourself in personal finance or to set a home accounting system.

Furthermore, we’re not expecting all banks to collapse anytime soon, so no need to rush to get cash out of your account and put it under your mattress. With the right systems in place, bank staff and clients can operate from home; also, electronic payments are free of physical contact, and therefore, free of virus transmission risk 🙂

2. Get Ripped

Yes, I know the sofa is tempting (I believe they have their own gravity field, but that’s a theory for another day), but there’s a lot you can do at home to stay fit. Starting with eating properly – which may help you with #1, Save Money) and then to yoga, crossfit, etc. There are tons of free resources online with routines that you can make at home. Just get a yoga/exercise mat, adjust the furniture to leave some exercise space a couple times a week. My experience: I manage with a space of around 2 m by 1.5 m and I’m 1.76 m tall, though if you have more you’ll be more comfortable – in nonsensical imperial units that should be about 6ft 6″ x 5ft for a 5ft 9″ person.

Youtube, Vimeo etc are full of free videos that you can follow. Cast the video to your TV, or place your laptop/phone where you can see it in different positions (sitting, standing, laying down – or at least that you can hear it from every position). I recommend picking some videos that you like, up to five, and repeating them along your sessions e.g. two or three a week. When you’re more familiar with a video, you won’t need to look at the screen so often and you’ll be able to focus better on exercising properly. If you don’t have equipment at home (dumbbells, yoga straps, bricks etc) don’t worry it’s not essential – you’d be surprised how much you can get knackered with just your own weight. Don’t make it an excuse!

Also, if you’re not a youngster anymore and you’re not in great shape, there are still some light exercises you can do – and for you it is especially important to stay active. This kind of routine – Exercise for Older Adults – will help you stay healthy.

Yoga

If you have never done it before, give it a go. It’s a very complete exercise that builds strength, flexibility and also improves your mental health. Don’t expect to match the moves of the instructor in your first try – feeling useless at the beginning is part of the process. Just do what you can and at the end, enjoy the relaxing shavasana pose (a.k.a. lay on your back doing nothing)

As an example, I do some routines from Cat Meffan – many options and different levels available, also, she explains how to make an easier or more challenging version of most exercises, so you can repeat the same video and take new challenges as you see yourself improving. If you have any other videos that you like, don’t hesitate to speak up in the comments!

Crossfit

If you want something with more cardio, this is for you: a combination of strenght, speed and stamina exercises that if you do properly, it will leave you knackered. A couple warnings – you may need to jump, so watch the hours and neighbours underneath; also, ensure you have space around, as you may need to run a couple steps to the sides/front.

If you’re serious about getting ripped, there are some high intensity workout programs such as Insanity. Warning: not quite a walk in the park! Otherwise you may take it easy and find some free online video routines (for example) to do at home and get in shape little by little.

Any other ideas? Let me know in the comments.

3. Productive Hobby #1: Cooking

Cooking is a win-win in this kind of situation. This activity can save you money, keep you healthy, and strengthen bonds with family, kids and those at your home, if you do it together (and you don’t argue too much about it). Find what kind of food you like and balance it with your cooking level and kitchen tools (e.g. you may love wood-fired pizza, but if you don’t have that kind of oven, you’ll have to find alternatives). You could start by searching for easy at home recipes.

Also, it is a great way to keep a lively social network feed – your instagram will be happy! Just try to go more towards colourful salads that sparkly bakery – a batch of cupcakes won’t do much good to your health if you can’t take the spare ones to the office and have to eat them all yourself.

4. Productive Hobby #2: Arts and Crafts

Did you always have some craft learning in your bucket list? It’s the moment to do it! Drawing, painting, origami, calligraphy… The list is endless. Obviously, different crafts have different requirements: Oil painting or sculpture, for example, will probably require a space for it and specialised material, especially if you work with larger format – and it will get messy; drawing, however, can be done with a pen and a notebook. Origami can be done with spare paper – some even with that toilet paper you’ve been hoarding. Take a look at Pinterest/Instagram for some inspiration and find what kind of material you need. With a bit of love, you may be able to make your own gifts, cards, etc – having fun and saving some money on the way 🙂

Origami

Origami is a very satisfying hobby if you have patience and spare paper around. If you’re a beginner, avoid diagrams – they can be difficult to understand. Go for videos instead, where you can see the folding process and repeat some step if you need. I recommend you to try modular origami – which is, folding paper to make repetitive components (modules) that you can group in many different ways. Sonobe module, for example, is great for that – you learn to make a 1 minute piece, repeat it many times (you can get your family/housemates to participate) and assemble, disassemble and reassemble as you get more modules. There are many different modules around – for example, with enough patience you can do beautiful things like this swan.

Drawing

Why do we stop drawing when we grow up? To be honest, I don’t know. But this may be a chance to get back to that. Charcoal is very good for quick expressive sketches. You can also get some brown/coloured paper (my favourite!) and make very expressive drawings with chalk and charcoal. If you can’t get any of this, don’t worry – you only need paper and something that leaves a trace on it – pencil, pen, anything. It is not so much about learning to draw as about learning to see – avoid your preconceptions and seeing only what you have in front of you, light and proportion – or just unleash your creativity and do something different!

5. Meditation

Meditation is a very undervalued exercise that you can do anywhere, especially at home. Some people say… ‘I can’t meditate! My thoughts are constantly bothering me – it would just make me worse to be alone with them!’ Well, meditation is just the opposite – taking your mind away from that. You just think about breathing, and release everything else – it helps develop focus and control of your thoughts and emotions in your day to day life. Try short exercises and see how it feels. The Headspace app, for example, is great for that – and no, you don’t need the yoga pose to do it.

6. Reach your loved ones

Yes, it’s a pandemic, but it’s not the Black Death. Apart from being 20 times less deadly, these Coronavirus times are not medieval anymore – we all have phone, Whatsapp, Skype, and social networks to reach all our loved ones regardless of which part of the globe they’re sitting in.

So… Use them! Stay in touch, ask how their day was, and take advantage of the moment to recover contact with those you haven’t talked in a while to ask how they are. This is especially important if you or them live alone – you will really help them stay happy and take care of themselves.

{This post is under construction and open to any ideas – share your own in the comments below!}

Stay safe, stay sane!

COVID-19: Best live updated maps and data

Hello survivors!

You’ve probably googled the infamous keywords a million times now and read a thousand articles to find how many cases there are – however, if you are anything like me, words come into your head from one ear and they come out through the other without leaving much trace inside. An image tells more than a thousand words – that’s why we have here a selection of maps to help you see the progress of the virus; interactive, so you can move around, and updated real time to quench your thirst for news.

World Coronavirus map for accurate location

Though the overall numbers are not as clearly stated and analysed as in the one below, this map by the COVID-19 Reddit community is probably the best to actually see the precise location of cases around the world. A great example of the good things that we can do if we work together – instead of panic buying toilet roll.

World Coronavirus map for statistics

This map by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) has been our reference to see the worldwide evolution of the virus during all these days. Just be aware that it is set by country, not by region (with the exception of China and US), so the red bubbles are not on the exact location. Also the bubble size is not really proportional – but kudos to the JHU for building this thorough piece of information and keeping it updated, making us feel like we’re playing Pandemics.

US Coronavirus map

Scroll down the ‘COVID-19: U.S. at a Glance’ website to find this handy map with the current reported cases by state. Who’s winning? Place your bets!

UK Coronavirus map (official)

Desktop version / Mobile version. For the mobile version click the menu at the bottom and select Map. It’s a very good map that adapts the level of information to the zoom, while also showing all the data analysis. I like the cold relaxing colour palette – unlike the bleeding wounds of red dot maps, this one feels like soap bubbles. Keep calm, it’s just a bubble bath 🙂

Let me know if there are any better maps around or if there’s any other map you would be interested – not for travelling, I assume…

Stay safe, stay sane!

Welcome to The Chill Survivor

Hello, survivor! Thanks for coming by, welcome to our humble sanitised home. Now sit down and relax, we’ll sort it out for you. Here we’ll bring you all you need to know to survive Coronavirus while staying chill, including:

  • COVID-19 Official government updates (USUK) or what Big Brother says
  • Live maps to see the country/region ranking and place your bets

Coming soon:

  • Home activities to avoid going crazy when you can’t go out
  • Tips for remote work – how not to get fired at home
  • Coronavirus memes for a quick smile between cough and cough

Now let’s try to improve your daily routine of panic shopping and head-against-wall banging.

Stay safe, stay sane!

Official Updated Government Advice on COVID-19 – US

Hello, survivor! Wondering what you need to do in the Coronavirus crisis to be a law-abiding citizen? Here’s a list of frequently updated websites containing official info.

The below is focused on instructions, for updated data and maps click here. Also, Check this link for the UK version.

US – United States of America

  • Government Response – Home page of the US’s official position on Coronavirus, in case “Make America Healthy Again” wasn’t detailed enough for you.
  • FAQ – I counted 36 questions answered such as what the virus is, how it spreads, how to prevent it and what to do – from the question about packages from China to how to deal with social stigma (a.k.a. racism). It doesn’t go into enormous depth, but it should be enough to answer most of what you’re wondering now.
  • Travel Advice for returning travellers, including risk level of different countries – also information about travelling within the US – mostly to convince you to stay on your sofa!
  • Work related advice – for businesses and employers. Funny, I couldn’t find advice for workers. I guess not having a public healthcare system makes the conversation a bit awkward…

Please feel free to comment anything you think we should include. Thanks!

Stay safe, stay sane!