LETTER FROM ROME: Living under COVID-19 lockdown

ROME (MindaNews / 27 March) — Greetings from Rome. We are still on lockdown (over 31,000 cases and 2,500 dead including 10 priests and 1 nun in Italy).

Some Suggestions on Living under COVID-19 lockdown.

Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsr in Rome before the COVID-19 outbreak that eventually led to a lockdown.

Most of us have been placed on a lockdown to contain the virus that is spreading exponentially. This will take at least a month, if not more. What should we do during this time? Here are some helpful suggestions:

  1. Appreciate this period of physical isolation, solitude and silence. This is a time of sabbath rest. Consider this as a prolonged retreat.
  2. If you are living with others, maintain interaction but observe physical distance (one meter, no touch). Join common meals. Spend time in prayer and sharing with each other the Word of God. Watch online Mass especially on Sunday. This is the best time to strengthen the bond of relationship as a household/community.
  3. Observe proper hygiene – constantly wash your hands, clean and disinfect surroundings (especially doorknobs).
  4. Be well rested, avoid stress. Get adequate sleep (seven to eight hours). Avoid activities that can disrupt sleep patterns (binge watching online movies/TV series, unlimited FB/social media engagement).
  5. Practice meditation (focus on breathing and mindfulness, centering prayer, meditative recitation of the rosary) – holistic method of deepening spirituality, managing stress as well as boosting your immune system.
  6. Observe healthy diet (mostly plant-based). Fish & meat consumption is not essential – there are other sources of protein (rice & beans, eggs). Human beings can survive on one meal a day – this is called Intermittent fasting which maximizes the utilization of fat deposits (ketones) as fuel for the body and boosts immune system – mobilizing the doctor and pharmacy within our body. This can help also in cutting down food expenses. Caloric restriction is the only proven means of extending one’s life (eat less, live longer). Grow your own food. Take vitamin supplements (C & D). Sunlight is best source of Vitamin D.
  7. Since you cannot go out for a walk or a jog, do indoor high intensity exercise (weights, push-ups, etc), walk around your garden (if you have one) or go up and down the stairs. Do Tai-chi or calisthenics.
  8. Spend time in reading – feed your mind, update yourself of what’s happening, learn something new. Read the bible and other spiritual books.
  9. Do something productive or creative: work at home/in your room, write, do research, work on projects, learn a new language, pursue your hobby, gardening, play and listen to music, compose songs and poems, start a diary, etc.
  10. Maintain social contact with family members, friends and colleagues through the internet/social media. Give them updates on what is happening. Share with them what you are doing, your thoughts and feelings. Participate in online meetings/conferences/webinars, etc. Continue to exercise your prophetic mission online: share the Gospel & bring hope, denounce social evils (including incompetent/corrupt leaders and their minions who are responsible for the culture of death, the spread of this virus, climate change, etc.). Continue your advocacies. In spite of the physical isolation we are still interconnected. We can maintain solidarity with others by being part of the virtual community and movement. While observing appropriate physical distance, reach out to those living nearby. Greet them from afar. Occasionally break the silence by sharing your music from your balcony or rooftop. Find out how you can help especially those in need. Share your resources with those who are less fortunate.

(P.S. most of these suggestions are based on my experience living as a hermit & exile).

(Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR is Executive Co-Secretary of the Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation of the Union of Superiors General (USG-UISG) in Rome. He started his new work in January this year, after living a quiet life as hermit and exile since 2018. A native of Iligan City, Fr. Picx lived and worked in Davao City from 1995 to 2011 and was assigned to Manila where he served as Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Basic Ecclesial Communities Committee from 201 to 2017. He went around the Philippines several times on bike or on foot, for peace and justice).