As the COVID-19 pandemic makes its way through the world, my homeland of Singapore is experiencing Phase 2 of the lifting of restrictions that were imposed to curb the spread of the virus.
Restaurants and eateries have resumed operations, although with some precautions and restrictions in place. Shopping malls and other amenities such as post offices and parks are also opening up. The looks of relief on the residents is heartening.
But amid this backdrop is the threat posed by the further isolation imposed on the population. We are not out of the woods yet and many people are still cautions about leaving their homes for fear of a sudden resurgence in infections, similar to what happened in China and South Korea.
Reports of rising tensions among household members and a surge of domestic violence cases highlights the detrimental effects of the long-term isolation.
Like many Singaporeans, I have also had to work from home (WFH) instead of in the office during the COVID-19 crisis. While WFH is not difficult to adapt to, the initial isolation, especially when it was tightly enforced in the earlier days of the pandemic, made me feel almost claustrophobic. I had to be intentional about finding spaces of peace or else I would face despair.
I start my day with an hour-long walk near my home. I love to leave my home between 5am and 6am every day and briskly walk about 8km which lets me get a good sweat and workout too. The walks help me commune with God, are a chance for me to clear my head and resolve any problems I have , and give me a great dopamine rush that helps settle my day!
During my WFH, I make it a point to connect to classical music, ballads, Christian music or soft rock on Spotify or Youtube. Music soothes the savage beast as the adage says and the calm tunes help me find my inner rhythm and ‘flow’ thus helping my work day move smoothly and with little interruption.
Early in my career, I made it a point to collect inspirational quotes from all over the world, some even in other languages! This library of quotes, many of which are in my memory, have helped me deal with the isolation and potential tensions that can arise from the COVID-19 isolation.
During times of potential chaos and trouble, I trawl through my mental library of quotes and there is always a quote or two that will get me through the crisis. One of my favourites is “This too, shall pass!” attributed to many writers over the centuries and largely believed to have come from Solomon. Another is the adage “Tough times never last but tough people do!”
I cannot tell enough of how a quick recall of these quotes has saved me from imploding or losing my cool in a troublesome situation.
As I course along a career that has spanned 20 years to date, I realise that many things that I once thought were very important were quite inconsequential after all. I have learnt to adopt a sense of balance for the crises that arise and am now content to know that as long as I have done my best at all times, God will take care of the rest. And He does! Which then brings me to the next part….
My Christian faith has helped ground me and assure me that the coronavirus crisis will soon end and we will come out stronger as a result. The assurances I have through personal and corporate prayer with friends, colleagues and family members gives me more and more confidence that all will be well and we will weather this storm just as Singaporeans weathered the Sars virus outbreak of 2003, the financial crises and many others in our past, and came out stronger as a result.