It’s been a week since the start of Phase 2 (heightened alert), also dubbed by some as circuit breaker lite. How are you doing?

Measures such as limiting social gatherings to two, a stop to eating out, not to mention the return to work-from-home and home-based learning defaults remind us of the challenges from last year’s circuit breaker.

With a worrying number of unlinked community cases, the uncertainty of a second lockdown even caused some concerned Singaporeans to rush to stock up on groceries.

But let’s remember what happened during last year’s circuit breaker, after the initial panic died down and we adapted. We found that the pandemic taught us life-changing lessons we never knew – how we could become better, more caring people to those around us.

So instead of getting into a panic and complaining about what I can’t do, I feel thankful that measures have been implemented to get us safe as fast as possible.

I recently heard from a Malaysian friend studying here that the Covid infection rates across the Causeway are hitting record highs, and unfortunately just the day after we spoke, she texted me again to tell me that her dad got the virus and is still waiting for a bed to receive treatment.

Let’s keep our friends and neighbours in our prayers and well-wishes.

Last week, I woke up on the first day of working from home feeling quite calm as I took comfort knowing that I am now better equipped at handling the uncertainties of this situation.

Change is constant. So should kindness be, in our lives.

So today, a day after Kindness Day SG, let’s pause to look beyond our own daily routines, and see how we can help those truly vulnerable in our Covid times.

Showing care to frontline heroes

Phase 2 Heightened Alert at Tan Tock Seng Hospital
Image source: Tan Tock Seng Hospital / Facebook

It was reported just a few days ago that the frontline staff of Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) were being shunned in public. They have difficulty getting private-car rides to the hospital and suffer so many stares while on public transport that some stopped wearing their uniforms when commuting. They aren’t the only ones either. A Sengkang General Hospital (SKGH) nurse and his family have been allegedly harassed by his neighbours for the past year; those neighbours have since been charged for being a public nuisance.

Have we forgotten about how we should support our healthcare heroes? Heroes they may be, but they are humans too and this kind of treatment can take a toll on their mental health.

There are several ways of showing your support for our frontline heroes but the simplest method is to take a leaf from our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Facebook post: If you have some words of encouragement for loved ones in TTSH, send TTSH a private Facebook private message and they will deliver on your behalf.

Remember transport workers are undergoing tough times

Essential Workers having meals during Phase 2 Heightened Alert
Image source: Facebook / Beh Chia Lor – Singapore Road

Also on the frontline, our hardworking transport workers like cabbies, private-hire drivers and delivery riders may have their business affected with the stay home situation now and some even struggle having to have meals in the most awkward places between jobs.

Thankfully, several rest points have been set up to care for the needs of these frontline transport workers.

On our own, let’s remember to show kindness and care to our food delivery riders when they are helping to provide us our food!

Not just those who deliver the food, but those who prepare it too

Support the Hawkers during Phase 2 Heightened Alert
Image source: Shutterstock / damianlugowski

In F&B, we hear about elderly hawkers who fall off the technological grid as more people use online food delivery services. With the no dine-in rule, these hawkers have to depend on takeaway orders and many rely on only a few regular patrons to get by.

Perhaps instead of pulling out our phones and tapping on an app, let’s make an effort to support our local hawkers. If you’re thinking of ordering in, consider taking a short walk instead to your local food centre or kopitiam. It’s better on your wallet and keeps our hawker culture alive.

Don’t forget to bring your reusable containers or tiffin carriers to keep green while supporting our local hawkers! And if you can spare the time, consider offering help to your elderly neighbours by tapao-ing food or going on a grocery run for them.

Finding time for those around you

An empty CBD during Phase 2 Heightened Alert in Singapore
Image source: Shutterstock / kandl

A recent survey found that people have been socialising less and working more since the circuit breaker last year. As people socialise less frequently with those outside their immediate family, it’s harder to maintain old relationships and make new friends now.

Online, there are channels on platforms like Reddit that help us stay connected. There are also apps like Slowly that help to expand our social circles. But while we do that, let’s not forget about our digitally disconnected groups like our seniors who are the most likely to be suffering from the lack of interaction with their friends.

So remember to reach out with a phone call or a text. Or introduce your elderly relatives and friends to video calls if they haven’t already learned the technology!

Or you can join Penpals in the Community, started by a group of young Singaporeans to connect with vulnerable seniors, as they write to youth adult volunteers about how their day went, share their stories or even pour out any problems and worries they have.

With this simple yet familiar mode of communication, this initiative hopes to improve seniors’ mental well-being and foster an intergenerational bond through sharing stories with younger Singaporeans.

Find comfort in gratitude, keep calm and carry on

When will this pandemic come to an end? That is the million-dollar question. But one thing for sure: We will get through it, one day at a time, by focusing on the present.

If we all take a step back to look at the bigger situation, we will come to appreciate the many blessings we have in our lives.

So look beyond the restrictions and instead see them as a stepping stone to getting back on our feet.

As the old saying goes: “What does not kill you makes you stronger.”

We made it through last year, even if our heightened alert gives way to a second circuit breaker, keep going with a positive attitude. And if you can, keep your eyes open to opportunities to bless others as well.

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