Self isolation
Image Credit: Canva YZ

Dubai: At this point in time, if you’ve been following the rules, this should be your second month of staying home. As the newness of staying home in sweatpants starts giving way to resentment and grumpiness of cabin fever, we have to continue to stay strong and find the silver lining of a situation that isn’t exactly in our hands.

The more cases that are being announced, the stronger your urge should be to stay home. Right?

In my first week of self-isolation, I felt like I was trying to find legal ways to leave the house. Whether it was trips to the supermarket or going for a walk around my block, back when it was still relatively okay to do so. However, these days, there is no desire for me to expose myself to something potentially harmful to my health.

So I, and many UAE residents like me, began embracing life at home with an open mind and a positive attitude.

Here are the silver linings of being home during a pandemic

Silver lining: Better, cleaner habits

-Celnia Aoun, a communications executive

Now that I have more time for myself with no fear of missing out on anything, I've developed a lot of clean lifestyle habits, from healthy cooking at home with the family in Lebanon, remotely via Zoom, to replacing my gym visits with an at home work out. I did buy a couple of home gym equipment and a TRX band and subscribed to a couple of my favourite online classes.

I’m also taking online courses from Coursea and I managed to start reading books again (something I haven’t done in years), witting blog posts and op-eds, and I was finally able to complete a successful meditation session without any distractions as part of a 21 days meditation cycle that a group of my friends from all around the world have committed to.

Silver lining: The gift of time

-Hiba Hani, a Business Development Manager

I think this quarantine time is a blessing and a curse. I'm of course upset that I can't see my friends, and I miss being able to leave the house when I want to, but I'm proud of how I've handled the situation. I always used to say "if only I had the time" and I would convince myself that the reason I don't do a lot of things is simply because I don't have enough time in the day. Now that I have all the time in the world, I've kind of proven to myself that this was true.

I'm taking more care of myself now, I'm working out, I'm on a regular diet, I'm able to go back to painting, and generally everything I've ever wanted to do is more or less possible for me now. I've even found that my work has been more productive because it’s shifted from a time based approach (9-6) to a more task-based approach. I'm able to take my time to focus on the right tasks instead of worrying about leaving the office before rush hour hits. I think a lot of people (me included) didn't realise just how quickly life was passing us by.

I believe we kind of underestimate time because it's not possible to be 100 per cent productive 100 per cent of the time. I didn't realise how fast paced my life was prior to this, and in turn, how exhausted I really was trying to keep up with everything. I spent 10 hours a week commuting and by the time I got home from work I was always too exhausted to do anything, and then on the weekend I would seize the opportunity to see my friends and catch up on my social life.

I could only ever really dedicate perhaps an hour from my Saturdays indulging in watching a show and putting a face mask on. This is a global crisis and I realize that of course, but a part of me genuinely believes that some good will come out of this, since I think everyone to varying degrees needed a chance to pause and breathe. More importantly, I hope that these trying times will end, but that maybe we can use this time to instill new habits, and perhaps even a new appreciation of life.

Silver lining: No social pressure

-Mahitab Hosny, a PR professional

I miss my family, friends and colleagues very much but I must say I am really enjoying not having any social pressure – nowhere to be, it is a relief for now. I have Zoom chats with friends and family a lot which I never did before. I like having the time to do things like a training session in the morning with my colleagues, the time to bake and try new recipes, I don’t know how to cook but now I have the time to fail and learn.

I have been trying to spend less time on Netflix and more time reading – I read over 100 pages of my book over the weekend and it felt so so good. My husband and I moved to a new house not too long ago, it is nice to be able to enjoy it. We joke about the fact that we used our dining table in the last month more than we did in the last three years that we have lived together. Everyone around the world is going through the same thing – everyone. It’s a tough time but it will pass.

Silver lining: Being more connected with others than ever before

-Bea Avilla, a Customer Service Facilities Manager

For me it's a gift of time and human connection. Before this pandemic happened, everyone was wishing they could have more time with family and friends and more time for themselves. Well because of self-isolation now we have all the time in the world. We can spend more time with family. We have time to catch up on social media. Get in touch with friends we haven't spoken to in years. I have been trying to learn to play the guitar. I have also been leveling up my cooking skills. Now is the time to be creative. It can actually connect us more to loved ones and ourselves. We shouldn’t waste it lying in bed and thinking about what to eat.

Silver lining: Learning about myself

-Amey Borkar, a Corporate Communications Consultant

A lot of people think self-isolation is a lonely and bleak affair, but I think its a good opportunity to get to know yourself better. You can do so much that you always wanted to do - like tidying up that closet or re-arranging your house. But on a personal level too - I have a newfound love for cooking. It's such a stress buster after a long day of work."

Silver lining: Working on my passion project

-Nandini Nayar, a student

I have really been enjoying self-isolation. It has given me time to focus on practicing singing. I've been passionate about singing for a long time and I want to pursue it as my future career. So while balancing school work, I've really focused on developing my singing voice. Additionally, I noticed that I really enjoy doing schoolwork at my own pace. I noticed that I’ve gotten great remarks and feedback from my teachers on my work. It’s nice to work at your own speed. I’ve also been spending a lot of time video chatting on Zoom with my friends. I am planning to have a Zoom birthday party too. I am just trying to make the most out of it.

Silver lining: Improving my knowledge

-Lara Geadah, a Blogger and Content Strategist

I’m really making use of my time at home. I’ve taken up a new online learning course on app design and coding. I’m also stepping up my content creation skills and I’ve bought a tonne of equipment to start filming more professional videos for YouTube. Though I’m not happy about the current situation, I feel like the only thing we can do in this situation is to make the best out of the state we are in. I’m happy that I’ve gotten the opportunity to invest in myself as I’ve been wanting to take these online courses for ages.

Silver lining: Time for cooking!

-Tania Lolla Kaddoura, 

One positive part about my isolation experience is discovered innate human capabilities in me. Mainly conquering the kitchen and making healthy, tasty and funny looking meals for my entire family, especially my son Noah. I have also been turning my daily household chores into fun and engaging workouts. This whole experience has taught me that where there is a will there is a way.

Silver lining: More human connection

-Ellie Keene, a PR Professional

Well today is my birthday and I’ve definitely been more spoilt than normal because people feel sorry for me being home alone. It doesn’t feel so lonely because I have the best Dubai family in the world. As in my friends. My actual family is in the UK, so I feel like I have people here that became my family. We ask about each other, check on each other. I definitely speak to more people now than I did before. Even friends who I haven’t spoken to in years. I now have the time to catch up with them.

Silver lining: Getting to know my family

-Salme El Shahed, a Communications Specialist 

My favorite part about quarantine has got to be the fact that I’m getting to know myself and my family a whole lot better. I know time with our parents is not endless and as bleak as this sounds I realize that this time will one day end. Work, friends and social obligations steal so much of my time, so this is something I wouldn’t have been able to do if it wasn’t for a certain pandemic.

Silver lining: No procrastination

-Menna Fahmy, an Events Manager

The positivity of all of this I would say is that I’m getting time to catch up on me, and that feels liberating. Working a 9 to 6 job eats up 75 per cent of my day and that never gave me enough time to get things done. But now I am able to form a full day routine that works for me and me only. The last time I had this privilege was when I was in school and had summer vacations. So it feels good to get that freedom again.

You wake up knowing you have the full day to catch up on so many things and because there’s so much time, it forces you to do it. Taking a one week vacation from work is different in the sense that it’s a hit or miss. If you procrastinate long enough, eventually you’ll run out of time and you would’ve missed the chance to get things done. But now, being at home you eventually get bored of doing nothing and procrastination feels slow and unproductive, so it forces you to get up and do things just to avoid sitting and doing nothing.

Silver lining: Real self-care

-Noha Massoud, a Freelance Content Creator

I’m really enjoying doing a lot more self-care routines; I’m paying a lot of attention to my hair, skin and nails which always feels refreshing. I have picked up hobbies that I usually put off, like writing and painting, and I know everyone is trying to pick up hobbies now too. My other favorite thing is that I’ve become a lot more familiar with my home, before it was just like a cozy place I go back to right before I sleep or rush to make quick meals, but now it’s like a homey home!

The fridge is always stocked up and I’ve gotten to know my kitchen a lot better, and I’ve been loving that. Another thing is that I realized that my friends, family and I have been a lot more communicative with each other, we now always say “I miss you and I love you” so much more because we are not sure when we’ll be seeing each other again, and that has been so heartwarming.

Silver lining: Slowing down

-Ibrahim Ahmed, a Communications Group Account Director 

In the past, my weekdays were always hectic and there were quite a few late nights, so it was hard to keep a healthy work-life balance. Since working from home, I have been able to prioritise what was never at the top of my list – doing indoor workouts first-thing most mornings, cooking healthy meals and spending the evenings talking to friends and family all around the world. Yes, it can get frustrating to be indoors all the time, but I have managed to fill my day, so it goes by so quickly.

Silver lining: Focusing more on me

-Shahira Hosny, an Egyptian living in Fujairah

I’ve been self-isolated for the past 3 weeks and counting. Sure, I miss my friends and all the great nights out but I’ve been entertaining myself by catching up on shows, being keen on learning new recipes, and doing lots of online shopping to prepare myself for the post-quarantine life. I definitely have a lot of me-time so I am happy about that. It is hard, but I hope that the world will be so much better and people wouldn’t take things for granted after this. Stay home, stay safe and pray for better days.

Silver lining: More time to bond with my daughter

-Geetanjali Kashyap, a Paediatric Physiotherapist

I never realised that there would be any positive effects of staying home. But after being home for 6 weeks now. I have developed a very close bond with my daughter. All throughout my 16 years of work, I never really had to chance to sit at home and really spend time with her, but I was able to help her out with e-learning. It's been really hard on her. I also had time to develop a new skill. I am a pediatric physio therapist, and now I developed the skill of tele-health. It has actually worked out. Basically I talk parents through the process of their child’s therapy and I never would have known how positive it could have been on the kids. I was a spectator now who guided the parents.

Silver lining: Getting back to the simple basics

-Jason Roi Bucton, an Architect

Self-isolation has taught me the simplest and most basic things in life. It has taught me to appreciate the time I have. It gave me the time to pause and reflect about what I have. It has taught me to spend my time wisely and not waste it.