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COVID-19: How to respond constructively

12 Mar 2020 | Action for Happiness

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting the wellbeing of  millions of people at risk. At this difficult time for the global community we can each play a vital role in helping to reduce the impact and look after ourselves and each other.

Red Line

The Action for Happiness response to COVID-19

Having researched thoroughly and had much discussion, our recommended response in brief is:

1. Listen to the experts

Leading health authorities tell us that our actions now can reduce the burden on the healthcare systems and help save lives. We all need to respond.

2. Keep calm (but don't carry on)

In light of the latest expert advice, our recommendation is to avoid non-essential face-to-face gatherings for the time being to help slow the spread of the virus.

3. Make wise & kind choices

We can all help to reduce the impact of this virus by looking after our own health, washing our hands, self-isolating if needed and being kind and considerate to others.

Covid -1   Covid -2   Covid -3

What is happening to Courses and Events? 

We are reviewing the face-to-face Action for Happiness activities planned over the coming months and recommending these are postponed. We are also working on some exciting digital projects to make up for what is missed. For example check out our app. If you are a leader or participant in one of our local courses or gatherings, please read more here

Red Line

Please read this article and help spread the word by sharing with others too.

The COVID-19 outbreak presents a major challenge for human wellbeing. There will be difficult times ahead, but this crisis also has the potential to bring out the best in human nature and remind us all how interconnected we are. At Action for Happiness, everything we do is evidence-based, asset-focused and action-orientated. With this in mind we recommend 3 key principles for responding constructively. 

1. Listen to the experts

Covid -1

With so much upheaval and 'fake news', it's vital we tune in to the facts and use these to guide us towards the wisest and kindest actions. It is very clear that how effectively a society responds makes a big difference. For the latest expert advice, visit the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The most important concept that we all need to understand is the importance of "flattening the curve" to delay the spread of the virus, as illustrated in the following two charts.

Flatten Curve 1

In this first scenario (above), where we carry on with life as usual, cases of the virus will grow exponentially and overwhelm the healthcare system which has fixed capacity. In the second scenario (below), where we help to spread out cases over a longer period, the healthcare system is better able to cope, leading to far fewer deaths.

Flatten Curve 2

So even if we aren't in a high-risk category or area, our actions have the potential to reduce the burden on the health system and help save lives.

Covid -19-symptoms -v 03

The 3 key symptoms of COVID-19 are FeverCough and  Shortness of breath. If you have these symptoms take immediate action: self-isolate and seek medical advice.

(e.g. in the UK call 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk).


2. Keep calm (but don't carry on)

Covid -2
[Image: Laura Jane Illustrations]

Although the COVID-19 outbreak may feel like a nightmare scenario, there are lots of reasons to stay optimistic and hopeful. For example:

  • Scientists understand a lot about the virus and we have the ability to test for it 
  • Catching the virus isn't that easy (if we make wise & kind choices - see below)
  • In most cases symptoms are mild
  • Young people are at very low risk
  • Huge numbers of people have already recovered from it

So although we need to be careful, we should also stay calm and try to help others around us to stay calm and make wise & kind choices too.

Daily practices of mindfulness and gratitude can be extremely beneficial to help us cope. And although we may have to spend less time face-to-face with others, we can still stay in touch with loved ones and take time to share appreciation and support others.

We are all familiar with the great British wartime phrase "Keep Calm and Carry On", which is normally good advice. But during a pandemic, although the Keep Calm part still applies, the Carry On bit isn't so helpful. That's where our wise and kind choices come in (see below).

In light of the latest expert advice, our recommendation is to avoid non-essential face-to-face gatherings to help slow the spread of the virus.  This will involve a lot of frustration and inconvenience, with lots of public events, meetings and other gatherings needing to be cancelled. But this is the right thing to do and will help save lives.

Keep Calm And Dont Carry On

And if you do need to self-isolate, don't cut yourself off. Use the phone or devices to keep in touch with family, loved ones and neighbours.

3. Make wise & kind choices

Covid -3

To protect our wellbeing and support others we should do whatever we can to avoid coming into contact with the virus and to be considerate to others. Specifically it is vital that we wash our hands and protect others by following good hygiene principles.

Blue -1   Blue -3

Making wise and kind choices is about looking after ourselves AND others. We can make a big difference by supporting loved ones and showing solidarity. This is a time to really celebrate our common humanity and treat everyone with empathy and compassion.

Be -kind -to -support   Be -kind -to -address -stigma

This is likely to be a stressful time for lots of people. So the WHO also has some helpful guidance on how to cope with stress and help children cope too. 

Stress   Children -stress

Here are some more great action ideas for ways we can make a difference:

  1. Set an intention - make a personal commitment to make a positive impact each day for yourself and those around you, even if it is something small. 
  2. Look after your body - move your body each day even if indoors dancing round the living room. Load up on healthy fruit & veg to support your immune system. 
  3. Nurture relationships - Reach out digitally by sending messages to friends; remind them of a memory or let them know something you're grateful to them for.
  4. Help others - make some extra food and drop a meal off on the doorstep for a friend who is unwell. And encourage friends to make wise & kind choices too.
  5. Look for what's good - take some time to notice the world around you and be grateful for the good things. What can you appreciate even in difficult times? 
  6. Make the most of it. If you end up self-isolating or have events cancelled, how can you make the most of that time? eg learning a new skill.

And remember to be willng to reach out and ask for help when you need it too.

We can all make a difference in helping to reduce the impact of COVID-19 and this is vitally important for global happiness and wellbeing.

The World Is Changed By Your Example (wide)

Advice on COVID-19 and Local Gatherings

If you are a leader or participant in an Action for Happiness course or other local face-to-face activity, please see our separate advice on COVID-19 and local gatherings.



What does this all mean for AfH courses and events?

We are recommending that public gatherings are postponed for a few months to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

If you are a course or event organiser or attendee, please read more here.

Af H Volunteers

Action for Happiness


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