As the UK enters another lockdown, it's important to try to look on the bright side. Here are a handful of reasons to stay calm and be positive.
Amid all the doom and gloom it can be easy to forget there are scientists working hard behind the scenes to develop a vaccine, and new treatments being discovered that will ward off the virus. Plus, we’re old hands at this lockdown malarkey now, and it’s only for one month. On that note, here are the reasons to stay cheerful this time around...
Getting Closer to a Vaccine: As every week goes by, we're getting ever closer to having a vaccine. Indeed, AstraZeneca, in partnership with Oxford University, has just announced that it has started a rolling review of evidence from its clinical vaccine trials to speed up the approval process, enabling regulators to see its clinical data in real time. If the phase three trials prove successful in the next month or so, it means the vaccine could begin to be rolled out to those most vulnerable early in the new year. In the meantime, it's also good to know that there are more than 240 vaccines in development worldwide, of which the UK government has invested in six of the most promising.
New Treatments: Of course, getting a vaccine is what we're all craving the most, but let's not forget that there has been significant progress in finding new treatments, too. Since coronavirus only tends to be life-threatening in the elderly, or people with long term conditions, having these treatments could allow us to learn to live with the virus and get society back to normal even quicker.
It will soon be Christmas: One of the primary reasons why Boris Johnson has introduced this lockdown is to save Christmas. A good use of dark, cosy evenings could be planning Christmas gifts, writing cards to relatives and cooking warming festive meals. And why not do our best to buy Christmas gifts from friends and family from small independent retailers, like Bookshop - which is positioning itself as an alternative to Amazon.
Improvements in Testing: OK, testing has been a bit of a shambles thus far. But a surge in testing capacity - of up to a million tests a day - due to start in the next few weeks will make a significant difference in reducing the spread of the virus. Experts are particularly upbeat about the lateral flow test, which can produce results in under 30 minutes, allowing potential cases to be identified quickly. It’s also likely that increased testing will allow students to come home in time for Christmas.
The Rule of One: This is a small but important difference to regulations applied in the first lockdown. Feelings of loneliness and isolation tend to rise in winter, without the additional pressure of a second lockdown. But this time around, it’s comforting to know that we will be allowed to meet one person from another household in an outside environment. It may not feel like much, but going for a walk with a friend or meeting in a park with a coffee flask (maybe a hip flask too?) might be just the respite we all need. Wrap up warm and embrace the outdoors. Why not plan a rendezvous every day?
Take heart from this Norwegian word that means a commitment to celebrating time outdoors, no matter the weather forecast. It will help you get into a positive wintertime mindset. To keep yourself mentally and physically fitter this winter, open the door, step outside, and take a deep breath, and say: “I’m going friluftsliving.” And, as the Scandinavians say: there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. So, make sure you've got the right gear (and the right mindset) and enjoy the outdoors.
Remember when we all got excited about the Danish concept of hygge - wintry cosiness and comfort - a few years ago? It’s time to bring back that spirit of indoor wellbeing once you've been out and about friluftsliving. Yes, our social interactions will be limited for a while; but there’s nothing to stop you cooking a stew, getting your home winter-ready, lighting some candles and hunkering down for a bit.
Ideas for Cultivating a Little More Happiness: We could all use a little more happiness in our lives during these stressful times. Here are some science-backed ways to cultivate it at work and at home.