We are in a very challenging time. Humanity is fighting a battle in which the enemy is unseen. It’s in times like this that our character is put to the test. Is COVID-19 brings out the best or worst of you?

The COVID-19 pandemic is still in full swing. No one can predict when this situation is going to end. In fact, many experts warn that a second wave of this disease might occur. Perhaps it’s true if we consider those relapses in some patients. But, instead of wallowing in self-pity and other negative thoughts, let’s find a bright side amid the cloud of darkness. Aside from fear and death, believe that the pandemic also brings something positive, for us, humanity to learn and savour.

After some contemplation, I personally see that the pandemic, indeed, brings a positive message for us all. Here is what I have realized.

The air becomes fresher

You see, COVID-19 forces communities and nations to lockdown. People are compelled to stay at home. Movements of people and machines have to be stopped or regulated. But... look at this!

As the roads and highways become empty of vehicular traffic, emissions and smoke have gone remarkably down to almost nil. Thus, clearing the atmosphere of smog. Consequently, we breathe fresher air, which is good for our health.

And, haven’t you noticed that you can now clearly see the natural beauties in the surroundings? Look around you and take note of what used to be blurred features. One beautiful example in Asia is the sight of the peak of the Himalayas mountain range. For 30 years, its summit has been hidden from view by thick smoke and fog. The lockdown has indeed cleared the view. Behold it now while you can!

Prices of oil products drop

Since people stay indoors, there are fewer vehicles plying the streets. And so, fewer vehicles visit the refilling stations. Consequently, the prices of oil products go down.

Crime rate drops in many regions

There are now reduced cases of drunk driving since liquor ban was imposed. Traffic violations have also dropped, and other frauds are minimized. Although hunger causes some people to steal or rob, these crimes are still considered isolated since most homeowners stay at home.

In the Philippines, the national police department recorded a 53 percent drop in crime against property. This record covers 18 days since the quarantine protocol was imposed. Police Lt. General Guillermo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force CoronaVirus Shield (JTF-CV Shield), said that the “barometer of peace and order” that the Philippine National Police (PNP) uses in this report include the crime of robbery, theft, and carjacking.

Freedom from work-related stress

Although it could mean “no work, no pay” for many, the lockdown offers a breather for working men and women.

Instead of looking at the negative impact of the lockdown, we can actually take this period as an opportunity to savour the small moments we have taken for granted.

As we rushed by on automatic mode during workdays, we subconsciously stressed ourselves physically, psychologically, and mentally. So now, as you stay at home, try taking the pleasure of smelling the aroma of fresh coffee. Feel the warmth or coolness of the shower. When you take time to savor these moments, you’ll notice that your body relaxes. And as your body relaxes, you increase your serotonin. Serotonin is the happy chemical in your body that boosts your wellbeing and happiness. It raises your mood and makes you feel calm.

Opportunity to catch up with family and loved ones

Staying at home with your family or loved ones is an opportunity to catch up with one another. Take this lockdown period to strengthen your relationship as a family. You might not have been aware that your kids were longing for a time when they can get your full attention and enjoy your presence. Since when has your family had a long conversation? When was the last time you played with and hugged your children?

Spending relaxed moments with your family or loved ones boosts your oxytocin and turns off cortisol. Oxytocin is a hormone that is released when people bond socially or snuggle up to one another. It creates a calming effect on your body. And, when your oxytocin levels are high, they send signals to your body to turn off cortisol, the stress hormone.

Sharing of household chores

Full-time housewives will feel good with the stay at home protocol. They would have the opportunity to ask other members of the family to help around the house. Some kids would not like this, though. But, it’s time to teach them basic household chores, like washing the dishes, making their beds, and other light routines.

Showing compassion for others

The COVID-19 undeniably causes discomfort to humanity. It essentially brings out either the best or worst of our character. We witness squabbles over toilet paper, sanitizer, alcohol and face masks. Those who have money empty the food shelves in grocery stores. Others clamour for “freedom” to go out.

But despite these, we also see family and friends reaching out to one another. They communicate with those living across the globe, asking them how they are getting on with the situation. It’s heart-warming to know that conversations between loved ones become more frequent now than ever. People post uplifting messages on social media. Various artists sing inspirational songs, cheering up everyone. Individuals and families prepare food for the frontliners. Companies and private citizens distribute PPEs and other supplies. All these simple gestures of kindness warm the heart.

How do you take the pandemic situation?

I don’t judge people for being pessimistic about the COVID-19 situation. I just feel bad at how a number of individuals could end their lives just because they don’t see any hope anymore.

There is only one thing I could say: If you feel heavily-laden, reach out to your neighbor! We are in this together. We fall as one, and we WILL heal as one, too!