In such a short time, coronavirus — or COVID-19 — has become all consuming. Understandably. If you’re following the news, it feels like it’s been changing the way we live hourly.
It fills our social feeds on every platform. It’s changed the way we experience shopping, work and church. It’s closing down our schools. And, it feels like it’s all we know of what to talk about with each other at the moment.
Don’t get me wrong, the memes are some of the wittiest I’ve ever seen and they’re coming in thick and fast on Facebook.
Some personal favourites…
And, I honestly believe we need humour at a time like this to cope.
But, while coronavirus may have long-lasting effects on the way we relate to each other, our economy and mental health — and aspects of our life we haven’t even thought about yet — we’re praying this pandemic is not long lasting in itself.
Therefore, it would be healthy for us to purposefully try and have some normal conversations again. Not bury our heads in the sand, but make sure we know how to relate on a non-coronavirus level with those around us.
A friend and myself banned the word over the weekend, vowing to only share light-hearted, random things with each other. Admittedly, I was the one who failed this pact before the end of Saturday, but I noticed a positive difference to my stress levels after a day of sitting by a pool sharing ‘childhood scar stories’, playing board games, and talking about our favourite foods.
So, carrying on the pact, until this distressing, and for some devastating, storm passes, I’m going to block out times each week where coronavirus is not allowed to be mentioned — Fridays from 5pm until I wake up on Saturday will be one of those times. Feel free to join me or start your own pact with family and friends. In fact, why not have a ‘covid jar’ where you have to put money in every time you mention it during your ‘block out’ and then, depending on how bad you are at keeping the pact, you may have enough funds to go on a trip once it’s over — or if money is tight, you could put ‘chore IOUs’ in there for the person you’re vowing with?
To get us all started, I solicited some friends to help me remember ‘what on earth did we talk about before coronavirus?!’ and here are some suggestions:
- share your favourite recipes — I tried a sugarless chocolate chip cookie recipe last night…I am now hunting for a different sugarless recipe
- classic ‘must read’ trilogies or series and why
- suggestions for dinner party games that don’t involve tech
- how to grow your own veggie garden
- if supermarkets no longer existed, what strategy would you and your family/friends put in place to be self-sufficient
- free online courses for personal or professional growth (hint: LinkedIn offers some great articles)
- what area would you choose to upskill or learn a new skill while off work or on weekends at home — will you finally learn French or Spanish?
- if you already know a second language, teach others
- tips and tricks for buying and selling online
- discuss the best sitcom of all time — everyone in your group has to watch the episode you recommend before a follow up discussion
- the trips you’re most looking forward to when we can travel again — local, national or international
- what fitness, entertainment or skilled class would you like to run online and how would you do it
- how online church is going and sharing the message from the weekend
- back to basics: what are you cooking for dinner? What’s the most creative/delicious thing you can make with tinned food
- talk about nature and gardening: how beautiful the sunset is tonight or how your plants are going — what’s your secret to keeping things alive? (I once killed a plant named ‘Survivor’ so I could definitely use your help on this one)
- what audible books are you listening to and what are you learning (Audible has launched a number of free audiobooks during this tough time)
- come up with a list of inspirational quotes so you can you set up on a board that sits outside or on your windowsill for passersby or to post one on your socials each day
- what are things you can’t have right now that, in the absence of them, make you realise you don’t need them?
- What Netflix Party can you watch with others at the same time and debrief afterwards?
- video call coffee catchups with parents and grandparents, asking them about their childhood, other family members — now is a great time to piece together your family tree
- if you’re sitting on balconies, in yards or on verandahs where you can chat to neighbours, why not play a good old game of Guess Who or Eye Spy (if you know someone like my oldest brother who chose ‘delineator’ on a four-hour road trip, and both of us refused to surrender, then this activity is sure to take your mind off things for a while)
If you have a conversation suggestion to help others talk about more normal things again, and hopefully take the edge off some of the coronavirus anxiety and stress, and help calm our racing hearts, then let us know on socials with #rememberwhenwetalkedabout.
Don’t forget, you may go through periods of feeling very alone in this but YOU ARE NOT ALONE and there are people who care that you know that!
We have put together resources for our Hopeland community (if you’re reading this, you are part of Hopeland) to submit prayer requests, join our prayer team, links to mental health support services, a listing of online churches and more. Hope 103.2 will be with you throughout this uncertain time — we are not going anywhere!