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
The Action for Happiness response to
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
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
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.
What is happening to Courses and
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.
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
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.
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
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.
The 3 key symptoms of
COVID-19 are Fever, Cough and
Shortness of breath. If you have these symptoms
take immediate action: self-isolate and seek medical
(e.g. in the UK call 111 or
2. Keep calm (but don't carry
[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
- 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Here are some more great action ideas for ways we can make a
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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
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.