Yup. That was me a couple of days ago, doing something I never in a million years thought I would ever have to do: stay put and not go beyond the confines of our home.
Wanderlustmate M and I put ourselves into voluntary self-quarantine after returning from an albeit mildly, but still Covid-19 infected country. As responsible citizens, neither Wanderlustmate M nor I stepped outside our front door even once whilst in self-quarantine. Looking back, this is something I am incredibly proud of!
In light of everything that is unfolding in the world, this month’s #travellinkup theme is centred on Positivity, which is something we all need a healthy dose of while we navigate the uncharted waters that this Pandemic called Covid-19 has thrown us into, quite unceremoniously.
I know that as I write this, a lot of the world has gone into mandatory full time lockdown and self-quarantine is no biggie in the grand scheme of things. Kenya though, is still a couple of weeks away from where the rest of the world is. And so, in the spirit of spreading some positivity, I thought I would rekindle my presence on the blog by confessing to you all some of the thoughts that ran through my mind during this time of self-quarantine, in the hope that some of what sparked joy for me will help you too as you soldier through whatever phase of this Pandemic that you may be in.
Let’s go back to the beginning:
You see, it all sounded really simple when we made the decision to carry on with our wanderlust plans. We were planning to be away for a week and then it would be back to business as usual. Or so we thought.
The destination: Malta. At the time, despite the manner in which Covid-19 was spreading through mainland Europe, Malta somehow managed to remain miraculously Covid free.
Travel went smoothly and we remained in our bubble of wanderlust in a then Covid-19 free country for the first few days of our trip. Little did we know how quickly the situation would escalate. Come mid- week, we would learn that the dreaded “C” word, which isn’t even Cancer anymore but Coronavirus, had come onto Maltese shores, the WHO declared a pandemic and Trump banned all flights from Europe to the USA. I remember the moment so clearly: we had just checked in to the Xara Palace in Mdina, a property that I had been looking forward to staying in ever since we booked our trip to Malta. A palace turned into a hotel in a walled City? Right up wanderlust alley! Anyway, the news was on the TV, and it almost felt like someone was dealing blow after blow, like pow, pow, pow and we were hit with an overload of information. That moment seems frozen in time for me. I remember staring at the words on the screen and watching mouths move, but not hearing anything.
Instead of getting into Wanderlustmode, I felt myself slowly going into panic mode, thinking, what next. All sorts of questions started to come up, like – do we bring our flight forward and just head back home? We have a few more nights in Malta, do we just go with the flow and see what happens because at this point, Kenya is still thankfully at zero cases? Yup. It was hard to say the least, to get into Wanderlustmode when there was just so much worrying stuff happening in the world.
We tried to make the best of the situation, because by then the Maltese Government was coming down hard and imposing self-quarantine measures on anyone that had travelled in from a Covid-19 infected country. The air in Valetta was sombre, ordinarily buzzing streets deserted and social distancing measures imposed everywhere. I watched our hotel turn away guests because they couldn’t check them in unless they agreed to spend 14 days in a hotel room. That’s when Covid-19, which, until that moment in time was something happening elsewhere in the world, became real for me.
A new face of travel?
Anti-bacterial wipes, hand sanitiser and masks at the ready, we boarded our flight back home. I have never been as finicky as to wipe down my seat and sanitise my surroundings, including my passport, and the usually celebratory glass of champagne at the start or end of wanderlust to toast to a trip, was much needed to calm my newfound travel nerves. The sound of a cough, sneeze or even someone innocently clearing their throat was enough to have everyone looking around anxiously and feeling paranoid. I remember falling asleep on the plane only to wake up with a start, wondering if I had inadvertently touched something that had this darn virus on it and quickly squirting generous dollops of sanitiser on my hands and arms in a bid to annihilate anything that may, or may not be there.
I remember thinking -this isn’t the travel that I know and love. And I certainly hope with all my heart that it does not become the new face of travel.
Landing back at home: we could see the measures that had been put in place to try and contain the dreaded C-Virus. Individual temperatures taken, contact details and physical addresses recorded, boarding passes examined.
Once we got home, the clock of our voluntary self-quarantine began to tick, where the reality that we had chosen not to leave our home for the next 14 days slowly sunk in.
Musings from Self-Quarantine
Hindsight is a great teacher. And looking back, there is quite a lot that the days in self-quarantine revealed. For one, that we as humans are resilient and adaptable creatures, especially when we are within our comfort zones. On Day 1, the prospect of spending 14 days indoors seemed endless and daunting and on Day 3, it became the new norm.
Having completed our self-quarantine, I am grateful to be able to say Wanderlustmate M and I have shown no symptoms. We diligently checked our temperatures every couple of hours, washed our hands, disinfected everything and pretty much did all that has been recommended by the WHO. Which is all one can do under the circumstances, I suppose!
Once our self-quarantine was over, we ventured out and left the cocoon of our home to go shopping and felt rather vulnerable in a new world where masks and gloves are hopefully a temporary fixture. Suffice it to say, we were very quick to retreat back! We are at the point in our country where we are still able to leave our homes while simultaneously observing the rules of what I now understand the WHO is calling physical distancing – because one still has to remain social! If I think about what I missed while being in confinement: all I really want after this Pandemic is over is to be able to hug my mum and my sister, and, being the princess that I am- have a manicure and pedicure! But alas, the latter will have to wait until my beloved nail salon is open again…
What I thought Self-Quarantine would be like
Endless days of solitude, oodles of time to catch up on stuff that I put on the “someday soon” burner, creaming a to-do list, creating endless content for my beloved Harpreet’s Wanderlust…Footsteps Across The Globe Blog whilst simultaneously stepping into the shoes of a domestic Goddess, running a home without being able to leave it, all the while being a legal eagle and working from home.
Or at least that’s what I thought.
What it was actually like
It took a day or two to find a rhythm, but once it had sunk in that we wouldn’t be leaving our home for the foreseeable future, things slowly fell into place. Online grocery orders were made, my sister dropped off essentials at our front door, good friends and relatives called and offered to do our shopping for us while we weren’t able to leave our home. I was overcome with emotion at just how much people actually cared and how blessed we really are. If there are silver linings to all this: then one has to be that we are surrounded by kindness which manifests itself in the simplest things: a text message, a phone call, an offer to do shopping.
Working from home meant that during the week, the day job took precedence over everything else that I thought I would have the time to do. I found that trying to run a legal career from my kitchen island, which seems to be the only place I can log on remotely without the software we use going nuts took up a huge part of the day. Throw in tidying up the house and cooking and it felt like any other routine day sans the commute and traffic to get to the office. Oh, and I realised that we do get through an awful lot of glasses, mugs and teaspoons in a day, which really is down to me and my habit of drinking copious amounts of tea!
Three things that helped me be productive during Self-Quarantine
1. Getting dressed and creating a schedule of things to do
On Day 1, I perambulated from room to room, firing off emails from my phone and dialling in to meetings. I spent most of the day trying to figure out just how I was going to run my portfolio and guide my team remotely over the course of being at home.
On Day 2, as the emails in my inbox multiplied and the to-do list got longer, I realised that I had to come up with a system to prevent getting overwhelmed. So, I decided that I would treat the week like any other work week, get ready, albeit in my comfiest clothes, create a schedule of things to do, set a time to log on and work in blocks of time, balancing out work responsibilities with household chores and self-care.
I also realised that I needed to manage my mind more than anything else so that I could actually follow through and finish off my tasks for the day, and so, getting dressed and setting a schedule helped with getting into the right mindset to get stuff done.
On the weekends, I switched off completely with the only difference being we were staying at home and finding things to do at home versus heading out to socialise. I made a list of all those things that I wished I had more time for, like reading, watching Netflix without feeling guilty, tidying up and started to cross things off one by one.
2. Taking short breaks
It is easy to let the boundaries of work and home blur when working from home. I tried to factor in short chunks of time where I would take a break and step away from my laptop and do something completely non work/house related. Simple things like eating lunch with Wanderlustmate M in the sunshine and having a cup of tea while reading a good book were things to look forward to that kept the dreaded cabin fever from setting in.
3. Limiting social media and the news
We are living at a time where a virus has managed to bring everything we once held as normal and routine to a grinding halt. The buzzwords are Coronavirus, Covid, Covid-19, social distancing, self-quarantine and the dreaded lockdown. Every joke, meme and Whatsapp forward has something or other to do with this pandemic and all this information can get overwhelming really, really quickly. Especially when you are in self-quarantine, voluntary or not and monitoring for symptoms from any exposure, be it big or small.
I am no expert but the only thing that has worked to protect my sanity has been to create boundaries between social media and the news. Of course, it would be irresponsible to live in a bubble and tune out completely, so I tune in to the news once or twice a day and I have found that anything that has a direct impact on us is very quickly relayed through many channels. I found myself snoozing people whose vibe I didn’t resonate with and choosing very consciously those that I will follow, and I have had to stop myself from going down the rabbit hole of endless scrolling, which in turn has had a direct positive impact on both my mindset and my productivity.
What Positivity has come out of all this so far?
Running an office remotely while also running a home and trying to keep sane amidst the chaos the world is currently in has me finally being the efficient ninja I always wanted to be. It is a pity that it took a Pandemic to inculcate this discipline and grit which I craved when life was somewhat normal, but I do like the version of myself that I was when in self-quarantine and I hope that I manage to inculcate some of the habits that made me efficient when this season passes and things do eventually return to a new normal.
Every day that has passed where we have remained healthy, every person that has checked in on us, every little gesture of kindness has evoked a sense of true gratitude. A warm, fuzzy feeling from head to toe. I think I finally know what gratitude feels like, whereas previously, I felt like it was just another one of those buzzwords thrown around.
3. Appreciating the small things
Self-quarantine means that the ho-hummery of daily life is very different from what we are used to. I feel like the Universe has given me the gift of time. To slow down, get off that hamster wheel, look around and focus on what really matters. To start to notice the small things. Enjoying the sanctuary of our home, which we otherwise, as much as I hate to admit it, treat like boarding and lodging. Basking in the sunshine, savouring a freshly brewed pot of tea versus a hastily dunked teabag in a mug, whilst watching butterflies flit about in the garden next door. Listening to the crickets chirp at night now that there are no more cars on the roads, thanks to the curfew.
4. Taking it one day at a time
My emotions have been up and down like a yo-yo. There have been days when I have been feeling on top of the world and super productive, creaming off everything on my to-do list and then there have been days where I have woken up feeling a sense of uneasiness and dread. The uncertainty and the anxiety of it all weighing me down. The inevitable pondering of what’s going to happen and consequences and repercussions of this Pandemic.
I have had to learn to allow myself to honour my feelings as opposed to sugar coating them. I have given myself permission to feel sad and anxious if that’s how I am feeling, but on the condition that I then breathe, meditate and do some yoga to help ground me again. And I have given myself permission to take this Pandemic and all that it is throwing at us, one day at a time and remembering that each day that passes is one day closer to when this too, shall pass.
5. To remember to have more faith over fear.
Through it all, I have had to train my mind to have more faith than fear. I’m not trying to downplay the seriousness of this all, neither am I trying to belittle just how grave and anxiety inducing this Pandemic is.
I am simply saying that I have had to choose to believe and trust that through this all, God has our backs and someday soon, everything will be okay. Because if I allow myself to be consumed with fear, I may never get out of the cosy bubble that is my bed and put one foot in front of the other. And so, I fervently whisper “faith over fear” day in and day out, and hope that in the not too distant future, life will be “normal” again.
Confessing all this has been so cathartic! What about you? Have you been or are you in self-quarantine or lockdown? Has any of what I have purged into this post resonated with you?
Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
Until next time, keep safe, stay as positive as you can and remember, that for now, staying at home is the new form of wanderlust!
We very, very much hope that you and yours are keeping well. We’re all tucked up in our homes, dreaming as we stare out the windows and worrying for our loved ones.
As travel bloggers, it feels a bit weird in some ways to be talking about our great obsession at the moment – so we wanted to turn the travel linkup into something a little different this month – a place of positivity.
So that’s the theme for the month – positivity. It doesn’t even have to be travel related. We would love to see your spin on this – it could be inspiration, suggestions, your thoughts…
How to link up your post
Just pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th April 2020), and add it to the linkup widget found on Adventures of a London Kiwi, SilverSpoon London, Binnys Food and Travel Diaries, or our co-hosts Sima at The Curious Pixie or Polly at Follow Your Sunshine.