Filipino expatriates in Dubai fear rise of coronavirus cases in the Philippines Image Credit: Gulf News archive

How to keep busy during coronavirus quarantine?

Social distancing is considered an effective means to stay safe against the coronavirus pandemic and staying at home is possibly the best way to achieve it (“Coronavirus: 7 safe things to do from home this weekend”,, April 7). Countries where these guidelines are strictly enforced remain higher in the list of safe places as compared to those where there are no regulations on the matter. We are lucky to be in the UAE, in this respect.

We must remember that hard times are part of life, so are their consequences. However, we need to utilise this time. We should continue to keep ourselves busy and carry out normal activities that are possible while at home. It is the best time for reframing our mindset and transforming our thoughts. Learn to be patient, tolerant, accept the change and live life moment to moment. Use this time as an opportunity for introspection. Think of new skills, a business plan or a new employment goal that might facilitate us to a more satisfied future. It is a time that all the pending family commitments, which may have been overlooked in the past, can be deliberated upon and settled.

At times, isolation from one’s social life can move friends and relatives to the bottom of the priority list. We should keep social structures intact by remaining in continuous communication with our near and dear ones. It will be fun to pick up a new hobby like gardening. You can even redecorate the house. My recommendation will be that we must look for something positive in each situation, even if sometimes, we have to look a little harder.

From Mr Naseem A Khan

Image Credit: iStockphoto

Running at home to stay fit

As you will know, most residents have been legally obliged to stay at home in the UAE (“Coronavirus: 10 free quarantine home workouts to try during the COVID-19 outbreak”, March 25). This is the same in many countries around the world!

Last week, on March 28, my wife and I ran a full 42.2km marathon around our 100-square-meter apartment in Dubai. The day before was spent moving our furniture to the centre of our rooms to give us enough room to run. The exercise took us just under 8 hours. The reason for our marathon is that we are inspired and incredibly grateful for everything and everyone who is working around the clock to keep all of us safe. There are many healthcare and essential workers who do more than a marathon every day.

We know that we can all play our part by staying at home! We hope what we are doing inspires others to do the same. This demonstrates that each one of us can protect the lives of others by staying at home and staying fit. We have already had many messages from people across the world that have been inspired to stay at home for their exercise and to keep fit and healthy whilst at home.

My wife and I are runners, and while we would love to be running outside, we know that in this current situation, running outside is not an option. 

From Mr Christoph Kent

Editor's note: Please consult your doctor before attempting a new physical activity.

Coronavirus: How to keep children stress-free?

Amidst the concern coronavirus has created, what caught my attention was the plight of the unsung heroes of our homes, none other than, our children ("Coronavirus: How to talk to children about what’s happening",, March 26). During these times of social isolation, emotional and mental challenge, when even grown-ups like us are tired of living in fear of COVID-19, I wonder what our kids must be thinking? While we remain fixated on our frustrations, we may make the mistake of ignoring the health anxiety that threatens these young minds.

According to psychologists, children’s brains are still forming, and trauma can cause the Amygdala in their brain to get linked to their fear and anxiety (because the cortex is not fully developed in children), making them react more emotionally as the rational part of their brain cannot calm them. This can have long-term consequences on their mental health. 

My 15-year-old daughter is expected to sit for her board exams very soon and considering how crucial this year is, many parents, like me, are helplessly caught up and locked down amidst uncertainty. Being a psychologist, I can gauge how challenging it is for all of us. Therefore, I set out a way to help my daughter during this grim time. I wanted to share with everyone some measures that will help in masking our children from COVID-19 anxiety.

With so much of negativity floating around on social media, we need to ensure that children get only the right information from the right sources. Children should be encouraged to talk about the disease and what they know about it. This way, excess information can be filtered out o only the necessary and useful facts.

Secondly, if parents are calm and thoughtful about what news they are sharing, then their children will also reflect the same calmness. Parents should be mindful of what they are saying at home, or over the phone to others.

Spend more time with children discussing their social responsibility, being proactive and guidelines stated by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Children’s minds are action-driven. Making rules about washing hands, using gloves, masks, and doing so by making reminders and putting notes around the house keeps children engaged and gives them a sense of control.

Have their days structured. Let them schedule and structure each day of the week, incorporating interesting activities like reading, cooking and dancing. Ensure they are eating well, exercising regularly and sleeping on time. Routine creates less anxiety.

Look out for frequent tantrums, moodiness, headaches, and the inability to sleep. Sometimes children are not able to express themselves and tell parents when they are feeling anxious. Don’t ignore these signs. Help contribute to you child’s physical and mental wellbeing.

From Ms Nandita Sarma

India comes together for coronavirus

It was for the second time that the people of India responded to their Prime Minister’s call (“COVID-19: India lights candles in a show of solidarity against coronavirus”, Gulf News, April 5). On April 5, 2020, people all across India, lit candles, lamps, torches and used the power of light to defeat the ignoble COVID-19. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier asked Indians to clap their hands to show solidarity with all those doctors, nurses, security staff, and others who are first responders and are doing their best to provide respite to those affected by coronavirus.

Needless to say that both the requests made by Modi, if judged closely and from the view-point of spirituality for which India is known for, are associated with the implication of community prayer. In comparison to individual prayer, collective or community prayer has a deep impact on human beings as well as on society, it is believed. Prayer has rightly been defined as a source of communication with God. A prayer includes submission, respect, love and faith. It expresses the helplessness and vulnerability of the devotee and his state of surrender. Praying for the benefit of one’s family, community, society, village, town, city and country and wishing for the removal of their grief and misery is called ‘Samashti Prarthana’ in Sanskrit, which translates to collective prayer. Stress in this kind of prayer is laid on the concept that the entire world is our home.

Perhaps, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was hopeful that through collective prayer, India and for that matter, the entire world would cut through the coronavirus pandemic and move to a brighter tomorrow.

From Shiben Krishen Raina

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