Since the end of winter, most everyone on Earth has had to put up with varying degrees of lockdown restrictions in order to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the Covid-19 disease and “flatten the curve”. This has, of course, affected us at SenseTribe as well. In this blog miniseries, we’re taking a deeper dive into each core team member’s experience of this.
For this interview, we spoke to Marina. She is from Madrid and lives here, but experienced this from the perspective of Madrid’s Chinatown, where it particularly affected the Chinese New Year festival.
Other articles in the “SenseTribe on Lockdown” Series:
How did you find out about SARS-CoV-2 and Covid, and what was your initial reaction?
I think I found out from the paper, when it was happening right in China. I live in Madrid’s Chinatown, and what really made me think it was serious was that one of our potential clients was in Italy, and he called me and told me he was leaving Italy because it was terrible there. This was before we in Spain really became aware of it, I think. I live where a lot of the Chinese people in Madrid live. It was the Chinese New Year festival, and their reaction was quite hard-core, but still nobody was really taking it seriously here. I actually caught a strange flu in February after the Chinese New Year festival, so maybe I caught Covid-19 already and just didn’t know it. I’ve been thinking about getting an antibody test.
So yeah, I could really notice the reaction here. But in January and February, I didn’t really realize there was anything going on, even though Chinese people were closing their shops. They really were respectful, you know. In this neighborhood the reaction was clear. We went to the Chinese New Year festival but if we’d been more aware of this, we probably wouldn’t have gone.
I live where a lot of the Chinese people in Madrid live. It was the Chinese New Year festival, and their reaction was quite hard-core…
How did you first react when you heard of the lockdown measures that would be implemented? Did you understand the idea of “flattening the curve”?
One thing is that I started the lockdown before it was decided. People were still meeting up, and I started to isolate before most people did. Actually the people at our coworking space all got it, and I stopped going.
Did I understand? I guess not really. I’ve never been in this kind of situation before. It wasn’t until I read more about it that I understood that it was really necessary to take measures, to do something, even before anything was imposed.
How difficult was it to stay inside, not go out to see your friends, to have to work from home? What has been the hardest to deal with?
I have to say I actually enjoyed the first month, because I got into a better life rhythm. It was a relief not to have to run around all the time for at least a month. The first month was the easiest, it was even fun, to be honest, but it was also really scary.
For me the hardest part to deal with was the fact that I couldn’t sleep well thinking about others around me who were more vulnerable. What I missed the most was nature. I’ve missed sunshine on my face. I tend to get lowe mood when I don’t take care of myself. I even broke the rules a few times to sit down on a bench in front of my house because I felt like this was a basic health need for me. I really needed that.
Some of my family members have breathing and heath issues, so this was really scary for me at times. I’ve also missed being in closer contact with some of my friends whose parents have been really, really sick. But they got through it, they were the last ones to get a machine, and they’re fine, but they were very lucky. I’m lucky I had someone at home hugging me often, because I really needed that.
I cooked amazing things during this time, I became a super baker.
What tricks, if any, did you use to deal with the isolation?
Definitely some cardio. We read that astronauts do cardio when they are in outer space, it’s super important. We had a routine to do some stretching and other things. My cat was looking at us as if thinking we had gone completely crazy because we were running around the house, around every corner, and that was really good.
The thing is, when they finally let us go outside for a walk, my routine fell apart suddenly and I couldn’t keep it up. My mood changed for the worse and I got really tired. On top of all that I have a back problem, so I started to have back pains and that’s always really hard.
So for me it was cooking, as a way to disconnect and enjoy the moment, exercising, and reading. Not looking at social media too much.
How has the lockdown impacted your personal and professional habits?
As for personal habits… Now I’m doing pilates online. I realized I need someone external. So now I’m taking some online pilates lessons where someone is looking at me, and that’s really helped. I feel like I need to buy self-discipline. It’s really sad.
And I think I’m working more hours. I find many people are faced with this issue. I’m quite surprised, because I thought that as we no longer needed to travel as much we would work fewer hours, but instead we’re actually spending more time working. So I wonder if it’s because we’re being less effective or just lucky enough to have a peak of work. I’ve actually heard this is the case for many people. I think that people working in companies have to show what they’ve done, so that it doesn’t look like they’re not doing much. I guess sometimes it was harder to coordinate too. And sometimes my brain doesn’t work as well as it used to. And I’m pretty sure it’s affecting my work time. I’m not moving as much or getting as much sun, I wake up with less energy, which might make me less effective, spending more time on the same tasks and being generally less organized.
Could it be because there are just more distractions at home?
No because when I’m working I don’t tend to get sidetracked. Maybe communication is less efficient, which makes us all less efficient. To be honest I think my mood might have more of an effect. And this last month I suddenly became really anxious about the future, worrying about possible crisis, and at the same time I was physically not well. I think there might be a peak where you get stressed out, then you end up a bit down.
I don’t feel I was ever distracted. I feel like I was just less effective sometimes, planning things and trying to be aware of the effort but not simplifying it.
To what extent did you get used to lockdown conditions? Was it hard to open up again?
It was definitely hard. We actually started opening up on the last weekend of June.
And it was really beautiful to meet up with friends again. But I didn’t feel like meeting so many people, just the ones I really wanted to see. I was being selective. I was also a bit lazy, it became hard to go outside again. You get used to it and then it becomes difficult.
It was really beautiful to meet up with friends again.
As of now, have any adjustments you’ve made in your life outlasted the full lockdown?
I’ve been baking one thing a week, but these past few weeks I haven’t been doing it anymore, mostly because it’s gotten so hot and I don’t want to use the oven anymore. I’ve been buying my groceries in local stores in my area to support them. I thought that was very important. So I’ve been buying all my produce at the actual market. I didn’t used to do this all the time.
How have your fear and understanding of Covid evolved over time?
During the first stage, I was very anxious about it, I’d read about it before going to bed, and then sometimes I couldn’t sleep. I got some information from people around me who are doctors. One friend of mine sent me some information. But there were lots of memes around everywhere and all the time. In a way that was good, but then it became too much. It felt like I couldn’t forget about this for even a minute. I had to do a detox. Then I decided to go on to a social media detox treatment because I felt like it took up all my free time. I didn’t know if it was helping me anymore, it made me feel overwhelmed with information. So in time, I started reading the papers every few days instead of every day, or less often even. And I started getting more information filtered through my relatives rather than reading it myself. Now my understanding is that we’re all handling it in such different ways. What I can say is that there are still so many things we don’t know, and people take the information about it so differently. Some people are very scared, some are more relaxed… It’s good that we have guidelines, otherwise, it would be very risky.
The professionals know better, but at the same time it’s such a complex issue. There can be different strains of the virus, we don’t know when this is going to end, etc. Now we know how many people are getting sick so we can get a general idea of whether it should be more or less scary. But still, the chance is there. I think they don’t know how it’s going to affect you. If you get it, you don’t know what’ll happen.
What are your expectations for the future? Will there be a second wave and another lockdown?
I think so. I don’t know. I think after summer we’ll probably have to do this again because as it gets colder we’ll end up locked indoors more often, in homes or offices. As far as I know it’s more likely to spread in enclosed spaces, and it seems to spread really fast. In a few months we’ll be more relaxed, so it seems it’ll be more likely to rise again. But hopefully not! I don’t know. I’m just preparing for it to happen again. Just in case. I think it’ll be a long time before this is really gone.
I’m just preparing for it to happen again. Just in case.
If there is another lockdown, do you expect to deal with it in the same way? What lessons have you learned from this one and how would your approach change? What would you do the same and what would you do differently?
I hope I’ll be more aware of my need to establish a routine, and maybe I’ll get some help to maintain it. One thing I already did I would do again, is to be in close contact with people I care about. And I hope I can at least go outside and get a little sun on my face. Basically I’ll need to just look after myself, both my physical and mental health. I’ll need to be careful of what news I read, how much information I get and how much time I spend on screens.