We Connect by FIDEM Charity Foundation

Christian Galea

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  • Christian Galea

I was as busy as I ever had been. After years of guiding tourists for a myriad of different local agencies, I finally decided to start working on offering my own tour ideas directly to tourists. The web has come to such a point that with the sole use of my smartphone I could script my tours, upload them online on a number of online tour or guide finder websites and just wait for the clients to join my tours.

By the end of January we had already started hearing of a virus which was spreading in China. We did worry as with the Chinese New Year holidays Malta was full of Chinese visitors, some of whom finished off in our groups, on our buses. But the worry stopped at that. I was having one of the best Februarys ever in my guiding career. We did not even ponder the possibility of the industry totally shutting up until the end of February, and the start of March was when all became very clear.

The first weeks where quite tough as I felt I had lost a part of me. On top of that I have always been a person who invents things to do to fill every single minute of my days. My job, my voluntary work, helping others and also enjoying a night out at the restaurant or at the beach all seemed to be a distant memory which we will have to wait quite some time to get back to. To that I could add the loss of income. It all seemed very dull.

Until I understood I simply had to adapt to the situation. There will be loads of things I cannot do any longer, but that also means I will have lots of time to do other things which I like, to enrich my knowledge, to simply enjoy my family and dedicate more time to them. And it all feels much better now, notwithstanding the difficulties I am going through.

I kept on starting my days early in the morning as if I was still going for a day's work. I think that oversleeping could be detrimental to ones mental health. Staying long in bed after waking up can bring all the negative thoughts around. On the other hand going for a walk in the countryside in the mornings is a most helpful way of keeping in contact with nature and to me a source of positive thoughts with inventive ideas coming to mind with every walk. The sound of birds, the blooming of the trees, the flowering spring fields, the farmers working the land and all the sights to behold as you walk are the most relaxing start of the day you could get. And it helps to keep a positive attitude for the rest of the day. I try not to use my phone at all as I walk to totally immerse myself in the surroundings.

Since I mentioned the phone, that is another thing I have adapted to the situation. I use my phone continually for my work and also for my voluntary work and to organise all comittee meetings and other necessities. I had come to a point that looking through Facebook started becoming very depressing as I started getting a lot of negative posts and I could not stand reading the incredibly hateful comments on most of the current affairs pages. Then I decided to unfollow all news pages so as not to get their posts at all, and with that I started not seeing the posts and comments which where making me feel bad. Now I watch the news directly from news portals instead of getting it on Facebook and am spending less time scrolling through useless and sometimes depressing posts.

To reduce your time on Facebook you need to invent other things to do with which to fill your time. I decided to still use my phone to enrich my knowledge through a number of online courses I have taken, which will eventually help in my job, or maybe other jobs I might be doing in the future. That gives me a positive feeling towards the future. I am learning Spanish through an online course and doing quite well. I watch movies in Spanish and whilst I am enjoying a movie I know I am also learning something new. And that is very helpful to your mental health. Education is in general. Your learning something new is a positive in itself and makes you feel better.

Apart from that I also decided to use some of my time to do renovations at home. Yet again it is all part of a feel good factor whilst doing long needed works. I have also learned lots of things about painting a room, which is not something I used to think of as being in my competencies but still a very positive feeling comes of me being able to do it.

Being myself involved in a number of local voluntary organisations I also keep track of the committees and any pending work on that aspect. Although my organisation depends very much on us coming together in big groups, we have still organised a number of online meetings, and most things are still running from an online basis. This keeps the organisation ready to bounce back as soon as the restrictions are lifted. Voluntary organisations like the one I am involved in are also a space where people can share experiences, sorrow, happiness and so many other feelings. Which is why I think that We Connect is another great initiative for people to connect, connect through doing what they like most but also by sharing their feelings and experiences. When you share a problem, you have taken half of its weight from your shoulders and places like We Connect are a very positive place, especially in the circumstances. That apart from the Arts section, which is of special interest to me. 

On top of that I still find time to connect with my friends and to keep in touch with what they're doing and the other way round. Keeping relationships healthy whilst keeping social distance becomes very tough and one has to work even harder to keep contact and check on friends and family.

My motto is to always be positive, no matter the difficulties we might be going through. Every situation, no matter how negative, will present some positive aspects too and that is what we should all be looking for, especially in the circumstances we are living through. And if we remove all the noise which surrounds our lives these days we can see that there are more positives than one might think.