Today is not a normal day

Tomorrow won’t be either. So don’t try and make it one. We are even trying to do better than normal. Facing the greatest threat of a generation, bigger than anything since the second world war, “an enemy against humanity” (WHO not me) while still making their 10 o’ clock routine dental check and stopping by Wilkos on the way home. Many of my friends and family are texting about wanting to get stuff done, pay some bills, make plans, start a proper home schooling regime with extra phonics but they can’t, their “head is a shed”. [For my overseas pals that is colloquial idiom for a sense of personal confusion or bewilderment best said in a regional dialect]. Of course it is. That is your body in shock trying to process a great big load of mixed messages. We are at war.

Schools are shut. All sorts of media sources are shouting at you. But Loose Women is still on at 1 so it must be ok. And a boss is shouting at you to come in. And when we feel shock like this, we start to do careless things. We absentmindedly give our bank details out over the phone, we leave the cooker on.. Your body knows there is something different that it needs you to do so its flooded you with adrenaline and cortisol. That is so you can focus, go basic, fight the sabre tooth tiger…Bring the peripheral vision in..

Most importantly you doing “normal” is going to do considerable harm to the NHS abilities to fight this because you are spreading it way too quickly. I need you to stay home. Now. Small business and restaurants need to stop advertising “its business as usual here”. I know that is terrifying economically but it has to be done. Look at all the things that are not happening and hear that. There will be lots of economic things to help you later but we are in a vital phase of the disease control and you need to GO HOME. Shops need to move to a war footing and restaurants, cafes, pubs need to be closed. Food shops and pharmacies are front line services. Please stop sharing “Zimbardo’s is open as usual”. It needs to not be.

Churches and other places of worship are trying to stay open as a place of 2 metre distance reflection, but not close contact.

If you are working from home your head is completely in the shed. This is the biggest “business continuity” test EVER. Virtual networks and log ins are falling over all right, left and centre. Do the minimum. Click the button that pays people this week. If you are a boss make better choices about what is important [IMPORTANT: Pay roll, Health and Safety, Security, Data sharing NOT IMPORTANT: Next year’s Christmas party location, annual appraisal]

I get that you are worried that you might go out of business. I aim worried that if we can carry on not changing your behaviour then we are at that bit of the movie when the only thing that is going to help me now is Bruce Willis.

Millions of scientists right now are working on this disease. For some this has been their life’s work. They are asking for one thing – for most of us, stay at or close to home. Stop being better than them and inventing your own science. [I didn’t cough/ its only a sniffle/ I saw a thing on facebook that said/ if I use sanitiser I can still go to the trampoline park…]

The country is now divided into front line workers and non front line workers. The NHS, teachers, some local government services, some shop workers, a few others..[there is criteria but it may be changing on the hour] If you are the neighbour of a front line worker they are feeling all of the things above and also now have to go and do a shift somewhere. So they our priority. If you have a family member who is a front line worker, take on their life admin. If you take on their children (and obvs here I mean say an aunty looks after nieces, no random safeguarding issues please) isolate with them and do not visit older family or any one with health needs.

If you want to get involved with a community initiative donate to the National Emergencies Trust and then keep an eye out for community response initiatives. But stay home. DO NOT SELF DEPLOY. Shrink your altruism circle right in and check on a couple of neighbours. By starting to shut down like this the community groups springing up can start to see who really needs us. There is too much “noise” at the moment. People will get lost unless you let us see them.

Friends with babies and other care needs at home (some who are usually so proud and capable and resourced) are in even more shock realising that their neighbours have reached out to them spontaneously. Nappies on door steps and extra milk now there is rationing. And it is partial rationing. And we need to think of it like that so we can help each other. Check in with them. Share your cupboards. Leave it on their step. Wave hello.

Stick a film on for the kids and let them have some cheerios for lunch. They need to understand that life is not normal for a bit. Shove a load of duvets in the front room and call it a sleepover. Print some colouring off Twinkl. If you find it calming and they do, to follow all the home schooling advice do that, but no pressure on them or on you. The collective family head is in the shed.

If the way you would normally manage adrenaline and cortisol is to bake, or sleep, or read or Zumba do that. People who have always had more anxiety will know what works well for them. Share these tips with other family members who never really understood before. You might be used to these feelings and also used to feeling like the weaker member in a house hold because of them. This is your moment. Help those around you to understand how to manage the anxieties that they now feel, in a way you have become a guru at. Be kindest to the “strongest member” of your household who normally knows exactly what to do but is feeling the shed head most of all.

Some of the above might sound really self focussed. it might sound like its goes against all those lovely community initiatives we see after flooding or an earthquake. There will be a phase for that. There is a different enemy this time.

Normally normal would be good.

But today is not a normal day.

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