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Close to Home | Staying sane

Last March 16, Davao City went on a community quarantine due to COVID-19 and in the succeeding days, there have been more stringent measures that restrict movement and contact among residents. The lead call, “Stay safe, stay at home” is all over. While there are some who seem to not understand the gravity of the situation and consciously defy it, countless obey it and weather staying in their own homes.

Community quarantine has been a long-standing practice of tribal communities all over the world. In Bontok, it’s called “tengao” or “ta-er” while the Kankaneys are said to call it “ubaya”. The same principle applies: no one comes in and no one gets out. This concept, I think, has only become so challenging for this generation in the urban setting because we live a highly extrovert life. We are so used to being busy and doing many things all at once. We are not even used to quiet anymore.

The community quarantine may have well pleased the introverts. But recently, I have received messages from my friends who are having a difficult time with this isolation strategy. Personally, I really think this strategy will surely work. It’s just that now, it’s becoming a question or a call to us how to support our friends or relatives who are dealing with anxieties and depression at these crucial times. On another end, it is also important that we learn to reach out in these difficult times. It may be hard to talk about anxieties to other people but there has to be at least a friend who you can talk and share things with.

Although I would easily suggest “media detox” for anxious people but I doubt if it would help them immediately since most of us get connected online. Maybe a time off in a day from media and technology and going out and basking under the sun in the morning and gardening will help a lot.

I have suggested to my friends that they unfollow people who keep ranting about anything and I had done that too. And instead, follow inspiring links. I have even limited my news to the official sites of the City Government and local media establishments. Any news not from these legit sites, I disregard, otherwise, I will die of panic – with countless purveyors of fake news having so much time to make and share it. So choosing who to follow somehow lessens the drama in our quarantine days.

Diet is also crucial to us these days. We ought to eat a lot of greens and vegetables, especially because we won’t be as physically and socially in touch with our friends. It is important that we are nourished with food that has been grown under the sun. Ayurvedic medicine recommends grown food to help in alleviating depression and anxieties.

Interestingly, there’s a group of friends who are fasting for how many days. According to them, since they won’t be working, they can at least devote their time in reflection and prayer. While food is not scarce for them, at least they don’t resort to eating a lot every time they find themselves with nothing to do.

Perhaps, the best that we can do for each other is to sense each other and give support when we need to. While nothing beats personal connections, online may work for now. This time, it’s also our duty to stay at home so we can stop the spreading of the virus.

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