Are you stressed?

Does that seem like a stupid question, in the current circumstances? Isn’t everyone, all around the world stressed as we sit apparently helplessly being hammered by constant media reports of COVID-19 spreading like wildfire? It’s like the bushfire crisis on steroids, and the whole world is on fire at the same time.

But it isn’t. Without downplaying the seriousness of what’s in front of us right now and ahead of us, it’s important to keep things in perspective, and to find ways to manage our stress levels and be able to keep enjoying life.

Many support groups, online classes and social media activities have sprung up to help keep everyone socially connected as we become more isolated. They’re all fantastic, and we encourage you to seek them out if you haven’t yet seen them.

However, while on social media it’s hard to avoid the various conspiracy theories starting to circulate about the origins of the coronavirus and who stands to gain from the pandemic. We’re not giving any airtime to these theories, which is not to be naive; inevitably, there are things we don’t know and are not being told, but we just don’t feel it adds to people’s sense of well-being to further destabilise the situation with speculation.

Castlemaine Farmers Market Weekly operating safely during the COVID-19 pandemic (photo credit: Linnet Good)


So, without being too ‘Polyanna’ about the situation, here’s some positive things we’ve been enjoying lately:

  • Small-scale farmers and other key players in our local, connected food systems (like our farmers market organisers, and the excellent folk at the Open Food Network) are emerging as heroes of the situation (along with health workers, teachers, emergency workers and everyone else on the frontline of keeping us all supplied with basic needs). Produce from small-scale farmers is in hot demand, and most of them have found clever ways to pivot to contactless delivery, online ordering systems, etc. It’s placed a huge amount of pressure on these small businesses, but most are glad they’re able to keep trading and feeding their customers.
  • The words “pivot” and “contactless” have entered the lexicon to describe how businesses are nimbly and effectively adapting to rapidly changing circumstances. Everyone will no doubt have noticed multiple examples of this, including our own wonderful farmers here at the Harcourt Organic Farming Co-op. The new type of service offered may be slower, less convenient, and not quite what you want, but small businesses are bending over backwards to find creative ways to stay in business and keep their staff employed, so please, where possible use your discretionary income to support businesses in your local area to stay afloat (and be patient!)
  • People are getting more connected! Here’s some examples just from our family:
    • This last week we’ve taught our elders how to use Zoom, and have had multiple, face-to-face family catch-ups
    • We’ve talked more to our kids on the phone this week than in the last 3 months
    • What used to be an irregular dinner engagement with a group of friends has become a regular weekly online catch-up
  • The environment is benefiting, and global emissions have plummeted. Unfortunately this is likely to be short-lived, but at the very least will provide some data about how quickly emissions can be lowered
  • People are flocking towards ‘homesteading’ skills and activities – growing their own food, preserving food, cooking at home, and enjoying simple pleasures. This trend was already happening, but it’s as if everyone has suddenly started to take seriously the very real benefits of having control over at least part of their own food supply!

One of the big questions is, what will the world look like when the post-pandemic world starts to emerge, whether it be weeks or months from now?

We’re simultaneously feeling hopeful that some of the gains we’ve collectively made will be maintained, and will at the same time be keenly watching for the return of ALL of the civil liberties that we have – with justification – been forced to give up during the crisis.

As with everything about this pandemic, we just don’t know much at this stage!