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5 tips for block house living: How to care for you and your neighbours during the outbreak

Created

1.4.2020

Author

Kaisa Kuuranne

Photos

SATO

Exceptional times can cause exceptional reactions. One feels the current guidelines are too restrictive, the other is too cautious to even go grocery shopping. Every neighbourhood, house and home faces new challenges when adapting to social distancing.

We assembled five tips for neighbours to consider when dealing with this new kind of everyday life, at the same time suppressing the coronavirus from spreading, so all those in need will get help or a hospital bed.

For this article we consulted Maija Kuusela, Specialist Doctor from The Aava Medical Centre.

1. Have a chat with your neighbours from a distance or via web 

So many of our neighbours are more than just neighbours to us. Shared coffee breaks, tidying-up bees, and other gatherings used to bring joy to our lives, but now one has to really think twice about every social contact. Although you should not chatter in the stairway, the yard is a safe place at the moment for a one-on-one chitchat. Just remember to keep your distance, and stay at home if you have even the tiniest cold.

Also, this is a great time to set up a WhatsApp group with the neighbours. The younger folk might open a Discord channel, in which you can share your everyday life all day long.

It's ok to chatter with the neighbours in the yard, as long as you keep your distance and are healthy.
2. Don't hesitate to offer and ask for help

Neighbourly help is worth its weight in gold in these exceptional times. Your aid might even help an elderly person being able to stay at home instead of being in an institution. You can offer your help for example on the bulletin board of your house, or, if you are a SATO resident, on the bulletin board of OmaSATO.

To help your neighbour, you can do their grocery shopping, or run other necessary errands. When you return, put the groceries near their door, ring the doorbell and take a step back to ensure a proper distance.

If you make a routine out of it, offering help will bring safety and continuity to the everyday life of you both, which in turn alleviates anxiety and stress.

If you yourself are in need of assistance, don't hesitate to ask for your neighbours' help. Helping you might give them a sense of meaning, and help them to connect to others.

3. Challenge yourself to not to touch surfaces

When leaving your apartment, challenge yourself to go through the staircase not touching anything else but the frontdoor, which you probably can open gently with your foot. Use the laundry room only when absolutely necessary, and challenge yourself to touch only the knobs and buttons of the washing machine.

Wash your hands immediately after coming home. Coronavirus can live on the surfaces, although it is unclear how easily it can then transmit to humans. With a thorough and freaquent hand washing you are well-off!

4. Organise fun activities for the neighbourhood kids - from a distance

Now that most of the schools are closed and hobbies and clubs cancelled, it is perfectly fine for kids to go out and play. We do strongly advice you to listen the latest regulations of the Finnish authorities, if there are more strict policies towards the spring. And even now, if there is but a small sniffles or other symptoms, your child should stay indoors.

Social contacts are very important to kids in the neighbourhood. You can challenge the children to be active online, say, by organising a dance-off or other physical activities. Internet is an excellent place to connect even a larger group, and most likely your child is more savvy with these things than you. 

5. Optimise your patience regarding the sounds of living

In cities and in block houses especially, there seems to be so much more life now in those hours of the day that are normally quite serene. Particularly seniors and those working in shifts might have a hard time adapting to the sounds and knocks of kids playing, and other noises.

Despite the times being out of the ordinary, the rules and regulations of your home building are still standing. Please respect the peace of your neighbours during the daytime also, and on the other hand do optimise your own patience to handle a bit more fuss and noises, so the neighbourhood perseveres through the pandemic without additional worry.

You can be the heroine or hero of your own life, if you keep up with your routines

Try to hang on to your routines. Morning shower, a jog perhaps, lunch, separating work from leisure, and rituals like imitating walking to work buy taking a stroll around the yard all bring a structure to your life of social distancing. Days feel more normal, and it is easier to calm down.

Let's take care of each other!