Covid 19 has forever changed the landscape of the world we live in. For better or worse? I feel for many of us that is undecided. The tragic loss of human life, cost of human health, mental health, economic health, financial health and security- it has been devastating. Yet surely there’s some silver lining from this most recent global pandemic. 

By no means is this list all encompassing or is it trying to make light of some very real problems. However, here is our Top 10 Positives from Covid 19:

1. Time to reinvent the wheel

How many parents never thought they would become homeschoolers? Restraunteers who relied on table reservations or teachers/students who could only teach/learn face to face? For these people and so many others, the way they knew how to do things, the only path they’d ever travelled had literally been washed away- in a seeming heart beat too. 

Down here in Newcastle East we’ve seen so many fantastic businesses continue to adapt and thrive as they are continuing to serve in the way that restrictions are allowing them to. From Xtraction Espresso, East End Skate, Porky’s Nest, Newcastle Grammar, Base Business, Up N Adam Performance Training, Runlab, The Oriental Hotel, Designer Delights, Rascals and Pegs Cafe to name a few… It’s been a privilege to watch how some of these businesses would have made Charles Darwin proud, “after all it isn’t the survival of the fittest, it’s the survival of the fittingist, the ones most willing to adapt who survive.” Now is the best time to reinvent yourself.

2. Time with family (at least those you live with). 

Whether it has been work restrictions, schooling from home or unfortunately being made redundant. Many parents have recently found themselves at home. Changes of parents social engagements and commitments has freed up one of the most valuable of our communities- TIME. Additionally, kids have chipped in hours into the time bucket too with the plethora of after school activities, sporting events and arts all being paused.

A client said it beautifully about a fortnight ago. In his life with 4 kids, running a huge building company, loving camping, footy and all other good things in life said, “yeah life’s just a bit more manageable now. I’m just operating at say 100% versus the usual 300%.” It’s a credit to our human species, just what we can adapt and get used to. However, it comes at a cost. For this gentleman to be consistently working @ 300% he’d never get a moment to take the foot off the gas. How much more time has he got back?

3. Decreased commuting time. 

For some people I know (including my brother and a few other Sydney siders) working from home has given them over 2 hours back each and every work day. That’s a time savings of over 10 hours a week! In an average work week of 40 hours that’s a huge bonus. 

This 10 hour a week pay rise trickles into every other facet of life. Including increased time with family (mentioned above), increased time for self care and exercise, decreased stress, more time to eat and digest compared to shovelling down calories while driving, saving money and even more sleep! Possibly the biggest wonder drug of the lot. Time, if it isn’t number 1, it certainly ranks very high on the list of your precious commodities.  

4. Highlighted need for Community. 

Gyms aren’t just a place you go to flex a muscle. They are also a place for many people where they belong to a tribe. The same is true for many of our social engagements, their one commonality is that they all involve community. I believe one of the biggest causes behind the increase in mental health disorders and depression right now is that people have truly felt isolated- they’ve missed their community

However, some local businesses and organisations have done a fantastic job of staying within the regulations in keeping these connections and communities alive. I’m privileged enough to be part of Newcastle Flyers and on Anzac Day I did a Run as One charity event too. Online community gatherings have never been more popular. We are not alone. We are in this together and even if we can’t physically see you we can still reach out and say, are you ok? It could be the most timely question we’ve ever asked. 

Additionally, I’ve realised we are a small, local business.  For years we’ve relied on our local community to support our business. As town went into lock down, Newcastle became a pretty quiet place. The only thing we were missing was a few hay bales blowing down Hunter St. We made the decision, now more than ever we were going to #supportlocal. It’s been beautiful to see some more businesses resume trading, more people in and around town over the past 3 weeks. The businesses drive this community and the community support drives these businesses. It’s a beautiful cycle and community to belong to. 

5. Universal or at least societal commonality. 

State vs state, country vs country. What if all the information was shared from the get go? No global conspiracy. Global unity. Each person, each community, each country, each gender, each ethnicity had the same opportunities. 

We’ve probably all seen footage of supermarket or public transport outrage at someone purely because of their appearance. Personally, I found this disgusting. There’s never been a good excuse for racism and the recent increase in hostility fuelled by the colour of someone’s skin is flat out appalling. Life has never been nor ever will be us versus them. Post the tragic event of September 11 there was an incredible bonding throughout America. Similar happened after Hurricane Katrina and even the Boston bombings. In 2017 I was lucky enough to be in Boston at the 4th anniversary of the attack- never before was the heart beat of a community so palpable, the force behind the people of Boston reminding the world that they are “Boston Strong” and that they won’t quit. 

We are in this same soup together. Let’s use this opportunity to embrace the good, the commonality between us all. 

6. Realising we can live without fast food. 

Fact. We can actually make delicious, healthy meals from home and it can be even more convenient than “fast food.” Yes I’ve missed going out to some of our amazing local places too and if you read the list of businesses under the “time to reinvent the wheel” section you’d realise that my stomach and heart are pretty well the same thing.

So much fast food (ie. that found under the golden arches or cooked by a famous colonel) is highly inflammatory. By definition the high level of processing involved makes it very tough for the body to digest and hard for the body to break down. Healthy, sustaining, energy producing food can be relatively easy and as articles like this show- we’ve often got everything we need. 

The Wild Rabbit (Entree for 2)

However, Newcastle is lucky enough to have awesome restaurants and catering companies like Sprout Dining, Una Volta and The Wild Rabbit (who supplied our delicious Mother’s Day feast) who have nailed putting together gourmet quality food for your home dining enjoyment. 

7. Raising the status of health as our most valuable possession. 

There is a Hippocrates quote in the stairs of our King St office, “a wise man aught to realise health is his most valuable possession.” Up until recently, time seemed to have taken over as our most precious resource. However, in this time of lockdown, ill health and the confusion of an uncertain future- what good is time without health? As my 94 year old grandmother would say, “I’d swap years for health in a heart beat.”  

I am curious going forwards what change will Covid 19 force on the health of our community? Will access and utilisation of health care change on a government mandated and funded level? Will more individuals choose the private health care model? Is health care of a community left to those who can afford it? Where does society stand if health care is only for the wealthy and the poor are left to get sick? 

Whatever the answer, time will tell. Health is a precious resource and as a commodity health needs to be nurtured. From exercise through to interpersonal relationships. There’s a benefit to actively caring for your health. This article highlights just how exercise, even in isolation, boosts your immune system. 

Finally, the former USA “Surgeon General” highlights just how much we need our communities, “Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” 

8. Giving Mother Nature a break. 

This year, in Australia between bushfires, floods and Covid 19 we’ve been off to a pretty hectic start. Apparently, even Mother Nature needed a break. With so much less travel and commuting, work been done from home and decreased business production there has been a tremendous reduction in the amount of smog and pollution in the air. The stats on decreased Carbon emissions is incredible.

From China, LA, Himalayas, New Zealand and Newcastle nature has had a chance to breathe again. The Himalayas have been visible in the first time in 30 years and this doesn’t even touch on the 15 year turn in petrol prices back below $1…..

9. Realising our health care is up to us. 

The World Health Organisation, Bill Gates, Vaccines, big pharma, the government, your employer or your family can not be 100% responsible for your health. Laws can and will be changed, yet it’s still up to the individual to uphold it. We can be told to social distance, but then we actually have to do it. Vaccines might be on the way for Covid 19, yet most of us can’t and won’t wait the 18 months before they are safe and effective enough.  The best bet we have for our health care is our immune system. It’s the number one defence system we’ve got and as long as we treat it kindly it be there ready to keep fighting the good fight. 

If however, we turn our health to the 100% power of vaccines we can only ever be retroactive. We can only play the waiting game and develop a vaccine once the next new virus is identified. It’s like drug testing in sport. They can only develop a test for a drug that they know is out there and in use. Covid 19 is the 3rd type of Coronavirus to affect mankind since 2001. It started with SARS, MERS and now this. If as a species, we need to bunker down and isolate as drastically as we have every time a new virus emerges, we will try to patch forever widening holes in a very leaky boat. 

This article shows some of the very real problems and costs with the current approach to health. As scary as it seems I saw a similar article only a week ago highlighting that the Shutdown from Covid 19 is costing the Australian economy $4 billion every day. 

10. Experiences beat possessions. 

If the house was burning down and you had to make a run for it what would you choose? The most expensive object or the truly priceless possession? There’s a reason why we cherish photos so much- memories count. Memories of experiences remind us of where we have been and the good times we have had. Sometimes however, we need to be reminded that life is more than just a collection of things.

Covid reunited

For almost each and every one of us it would almost be impossible not to be financially affected by the recent changes in work life.  Yet is our life any worse off? Literally on Mother’s Day I was speaking to a man who has now been unemployed for 6 weeks- the longest time of his career. Yet during that time he’s been able to teach his 4 year old daughter how to ride a bike without training wheels. As he said, that time, that connection really mattered.

This has and will continue to be a tough time with Covid 19, yet there is some beauty out there. Some magic in the moment or silver lining to the clouds of doubt and uncertainly. I can’t think of a better way to finish this so I’ll leave it with a quote from an unknown source, “the happiest people in the world don’t have the best of everything, they make the best of everything.”