Image by Tumisu from Pixabay
These are things I have learned personally from the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of these things I hope to keep up even when the pandemic is long gone. The least I need to rely on the current supply chains and government assistance the better.
1. How Quickly the World can Change
Covid-19 has shown us just how quickly the world can change, there are many people throughout the world whose lives have changed dramatically through disaster or war for example. People in the U.K. don’t usually worry about these things too much, I may be wrong but I think the biggest threat pre-pandemic in the U.K. was localised flooding, which can be devastating for the people it affects. But, there is usually support there from the local community, government and insurance companies, as far as I am aware, no-one can’t access food and clean water for too long here in the U.K. after a flood strikes. Who was insured for a pandemic? I’m guessing no-one!
The Covid-19 pandemic threatened us all, not only with illness and death, but supply shortages, job losses, increased prices, social isolation, holidays cancelled, weddings cancelled, restrictions on the number of people who can attend a funeral and mild inconveniences such as not being able to get a haircut. I suspect the affects of this pandemic will be felt for a number of years to come, particularly with the economy.
What felt like almost overnight, the government imposed a lockdown here in the U.K. as in many other countries. How easy it is for us to be controlled by the government, they can dictate when we can go out, who we can visit, they can even fine us for breaking their newly imposed laws and rules. There was no time to go visit family who lived any distance away. The world changed almost overnight, most people alive now have not previously experienced this in their lifetime.
2. Divided Opinions
Once thing I have noticed, is the division in opinions related to Covid-19, there are those that believe the pandemic is a real threat and those that don’t. I have got in a couple of taxi cabs lately, some drivers wear masks, some don’t, the ones that wear masks realise the pandemic is real, it is not fabricated to control the masses. The ones that don’t wear a mask have the opinion that it is exaggerated to control us, one recited that he has had 4 different nurses in his cab who have all said it is exaggerated, he didn’t say when he had these conversations or where they worked.
Is it exaggerated for those who have lost their lives, for the families who have lost someone, someone they could not be with as they lay dying in hospital? This is real, it is only the stupidity of people who do not take precautions such as wearing a mask, and social distancing that have caused significant increased cases in the U.K. in particular where I live. I believe the pandemic is real, I have spoken to a few people who don’t think it is, they think it’s a conspiracy, or say yes it does exist, but is grossly exaggerated.
Exaggerated or not, I am not risking my own or the lives of my family. I also want this ‘thing’ to go away and leave the world alone. I have adjusted to the new ‘norm’. I am very aware that governments can use this pandemic as an opportunity to control the masses, but have only seen evidence in the U.K. of doing this to reduce the transition rate. At the moment, they are trying to balance safety with the economy, this is no easy task to do. A collapsed economy brings other series problems, just ask Venezuela!
3. The Confusion
This may appear to link in to divided opinions, however, this is more related to the confusing and conflicting amount of information we all received during the pandemic. Politicians gave us guidance here in the U.K. but some of them could not even follow their own guidance.
More recently, there have been people locally posing as council workers and actually fining people £10 for not wearing a mask in the street. You do not have to wear a mask in the street in the U.K. but some people handed over £10s. I know some countries have this rule, such as Spain, but you only have to wear a mask in public indoor spaces here in the U.K. There are exceptions to this of course, such as restaurants and pubs etc.
I also heard a story that the local council are fining people in local shops £200 for not wearing masks. I did look up some facts from the local newspaper and apparently only the police can issue fines and the fine for not wearing a mask is £100. Now, when I advised a taxi driver of this, he said no, the fines range from £200 to £2000 (what?) and the council can fine people. He also said it is not illegal to not wear a mask. If it’s not illegal, then you don’t have to pay the fine and if you don’t have to pay the fine, then what’s the point! I don’t believe anything the taxi driver told me to be true, but it does show how guidance and information can get lost in translation, there are also those of course that make their own rules up, add things on, and take things away!
The lesson here is to be wary of information you read and hear, and as we all know the internet only adds to the confusion. The pandemic for me has taught me to be very wary of all information, especially the internet. For example more recently, I purchased a dutch oven, I did get comprehensive instructions on ‘burning’ this in, preparing for use and maintenance, I also ‘googled’ it and OMG the amount of conflicting information out there was unbelievable.
Whilst I don’t class myself as a fully fledged ‘Prepper’, I have certainly learned quite a bit about the importance of preparedness during this pandemic. Not only in terms of toilet paper, (yes I ran out) but financial preparedness. If you are mortgaged to the hilt and in debt, with no emergency savings and you were one of those who lost your job or business, then you have learned an extremely painful lesson.
Living with a high mortgage and personal debt seems to be the ‘norm’ of the western world. Even if this pandemic disappears as quickly as it emerged, I hope people learn (myself included) how vulnerable a position this leaves you in. I bet there were not many people (preppers excluded) who financially prepared for a virtually world-wide pandemic that would bring our lives to a halt and in some cases end lives and livelihoods.
Yes I am in debt, yes I have a high mortgage, but I was lucky enough to keep my job and work from home (for now anyway). One thing I did do was manage to save an emergency fund of over £1000 and am working my way towards saving an additional one month’s worth of expenses. Although the aim eventually is to have six months worth of expenses, for now I am aiming for just one month, as the idea of having to save six months worth seems too overwhelming for me at this time. If even one month’s worth of expenses seems overwhelming for you, aim for one week’s worth, just make a start if you can.
Every time I do an online grocery order, I now buy a little extra to store, this may be a pack of toilet paper, pasta, or a jar of coffee. We don’t know what the future holds right now, the second wave has hit the U.K. already, we are on lockdown again, although not as severe as the initial lockdown, it’s still pretty restrictive.
I recently watched a clip of a very popular morning television show here in the U.K. in which they had a single mother on, advising she has been ‘preparing’ for months by buying extras with each shop. She was blamed for causing shortages, this is ridiculous, this woman has been doing this gradually over time, this is not panic buying, she is being sensible.
There are things I usually purchase that are not available at the moment, this may be to do with supply chains or panic buying, who knows. But what I know is if we all do a little preparing with each shopping trip or delivery, rather than panic buying, there should be enough for everyone.
I am trying to be more self-sufficient in terms of some foods and other products. I am kinda sick of businesses ‘cashing in’ on this pandemic. The cost of masks is ridiculous, for basically a disposable paper cloth, they sell them for £1 each in my local shop, now I am guessing they take less than 10p each to make, as some sell them for as little as £6.49 on Amazon.co.uk for 50, if they are selling at 13pence each, I am guessing the manufacturing cost is way below this.
Then you have the likes of Asos, selling them as fashion items for a two or three pack from between £12-15, this is outrageous blatant ripping off. Hand sanitiser is another one, I have always purchased hand sanitiser anyway from a local shop, they used to sell 500ml for 99 pence, yes just 99 pence, now I can’t get half the size for under £3 and worse still, the last two I have purchased, the pumps have failed soon after use. I have now decided to make my own, I haven’t made it yet, but you only need rubbing alcohol minimum 70% and i am using aloe vera gel and putting a little bit of my favourite Bergamot essential oil in for a pleasant smell, this is optional. I have ordered some pump bottles, at least I can also extract from my broken ones. I have ordered two large for in my home and two small from Amazon, so I can use them to keep in my bag.
I go through about 1kg of almond butter a month, I use it to make overnight oats and sometimes spread it on rice cakes as a snack. I have been paying about £15 a tub, so have just purchased 1kg of almonds to make my own. I have just made it and it’s delicious, the only thing it was a little dry, so it’s difficult to spread, I didn’t want to add oil, but may have to for my next batch.
I love sourdough bread, plus it is good for my sensitive stomach, at £3.60 a loaf, I have decided to make my own. I have just purchased a dutch oven, and sourdough kit to give my bread a good fighting chance. I have made my sourdough starter from scratch, I’m on day 2, so it won’t be ready for another 6 days. The first day it didn’t ferment much or rise, so the second day I put it in the airing cupboard which is warmer than the house and omg it rose with bubbles 🙂
I did start growing my own vegetables, I started growing spinach, which was huge, I was so happy, then it got a disease, apparently because I watered the leaves instead of just the roots. I cannot grow anything in that soil now for 1 year because of this. I am not deterred though, this is how you learn, I won’t make the same mistake again. I plan to purchase a raised bed early next spring to have a dedicated patch for my vegetables. There is lots for me to learn, but I will take it slow, one veg at a time.
I will in future also to be looking in to making my own cleaning products too, that are eco-friendly, cruelty free and hopefully cheaper. I am also planning on making my own vanilla essence too. These are all on my goal list for 2020/21. Some things it may not be worth making yourself in terms of cost, but I have to weigh the benefits of making my own against the cost, so this is something I will consider.
I have also been doing some repairs to my clothing, refilled my cushions, superglued broken items, in the past I may have just made new purchases. Not quite a homesteader, but it’s a start!
6. Multiple Streams of Income
The pandemic to me reiterated the importance of not relying on one single source of income, as many people world-wide lost their jobs. I currently have my main source of income, plus my lodger’s rent. Although, at one point my lodger was considering going back home (he is from Spain) during the pandemic, but has since changed his mind. It’s not too difficult to get a lodger in the U.K., getting one you are comfortable with and can completely trust is another thing, but I trust my current lodger 100% so obviously I don’t want to lose that.
I am currently researching ways to add another income stream to my income. I plan to do this by March 2021.
I would urge people to have more than one source of income, ideally 4 or 5, but this may take time to implement. If you have a business, consider another business different from the one you have. While physical shops, restaurants, pubs and bars may have suffered during the pandemic, it seems online businesses thrived. Amazon seemed to do particularly well during the pandemic!
If you have a shop, restaurant or similar, think of ways you can diversify what you do, some local restaurants here turned to delivering. If you have a physical shop, consider having an online platform too. Even if your shop mends clothes, have a contingency plan, can you collect, mend, repair and deliver to your customer? what would it take to keep afloat whilst you weather the storm? Whatever your business, consider ways you could go to the customer, rather than they come to you or ways you can work safely. Explore what innovative ways some businesses stayed afloat.
Some online stores in the U.K. actually closed for business during the pandemic, when I think with measures in place they could possibly have stayed open for business.
7. Mental Health
We all need people; family, friends, neighbours and support networks. They need us too!
I work from home, and have dramatically reduced my socialisation. I was visiting my mum and dad once a week following the end of the first lockdown and was doing some decluttering and cleaning for them too, which makes me feel good and of course helps them out. With the second lockdown in the U.K., I live in an area with the highest numbers in the U.K. testing positive for Covid-19, I am now unable to visit my parents. Somehow this seems harder the second time around. Three family members have had Covid-19.
During the first lockdown, I didn’t keep in touch with some people as much as I should have, this time I am making an effort. We all need people in our lives, I didn’t see my family for almost 4 months, which was really tough, as it was for a lot of people.
I keep my mental health in check by keeping myself busy, doing all the things I never got around to before, lots of self-care, online courses, reading, decluttering, cleaning, making my home as pleasant as possible because a nice clean environment matters to me, it makes me feel good and in control.
8. Physical Health
I think it’s safe to say, from my experience anyway, so many people gained weight during the pandemic, as our lives changed from at least moderately active to being virtually housebound. Isn’t it funny how gaining weight creeps up on you, you don’t notice until it’s too late? And you blame the dryer for shrinking your clothes (guilty!) Oh I wish it was as easy to lose weight as it is to gain it!
I am now doing walks 4-5 days a week, I have gone from 30 minutes to 1 hour each time, this is not just to lose some of my lockdown weight, but I know it does both my physical and mental health good too. As someone who stops and starts exercising, I am committing to just one day at a time, when I wake up and I really don’t feel like it, I remind myself why I am doing it and how good I feel afterwards, this usually works. I tend to go early mornings, I do love the early mornings, the quiet, the relative stillness, the freshness of the air before it receives its daily dose of pollution.
After my walk I do about 30-40 minutes of targeted exercises, mostly with weights working different muscle groups. I have really stepped this up the past 10 days and am feeling my muscles tighten up, plus it hurts, signs my exercise routine is working.
I will be investing in a pair of walking boots as I hope to start hiking soon along with a warm hat, gloves and a winter walking jacket, as I don’t want winter to stop my walks.
We don’t know what lies ahead, not even the experts can predict the future and if this pandemic lingers or another more lethal one hits us, trade wars, economic collapses, societal breakdowns, or civil wars occur, then we are all in for a rough ride. I’m not trying to scaremonger, but the pandemic has shown our individual vulnerabilities when things happen outside of our control.
Most of us in the West have lived in a bubble for so long, don’t be complacent, just do what little you can to prepare; mentally, physically, financially and supply wise, not just for now, but your future, so that you can minimise any negative impacts the future may hold!