coping, Covid-19

How 7 of the UAE’s most positive people are coping

We’re all trying to stay positive and get through the Covid-19 crisis, but staying indoors and not knowing when it’s going to be over is a challenge. As the UAE starts to open up, we turned to some of the most positive people we know to find out how they have been coping. 

Gretta Beckett, global elite tower runner, Dubai

Gretta Beckett coping Covid-19
Photo courtesy of Gretta Beckett

I have been injured with a bruised talus bone in my ankle for the last few months, so I had already stopped my rigorous exercise routine and have had to rest completely. That has made the transition into lockdown 100 percent easier. I understand how people must be feeling, having to alter their daily routines. For many of us, being outside and active is about more than just exercise; in the UAE it’s a way of life. We work, we have our family and friends and we have our fitness interests. It’s also an outlet from stress. 

What’s helping me cope is watching how people here and around the world are doing the best they can for the greater good. How fun is social media lately? From creative videos to make you laugh, watching live workouts with cans of beans or water containers as improvised weights, to inspirational people like Adidas running coach Lee Ryan breaking barriers and running 100km in his backyard. Creativity is booming. 

I have been keeping busy working on my psychotherapy business, which maps on to my years of experience working as a nurse on acute psychiatric units in Europe. I have been putting that off for a long time. I love getting to spend so much quality time with my husband and my dog. I am cooking daily instead of eating out or ordering in. So not only am I becoming a great chef (although that might be debatable) but we are saving money, as before this we were very social and going out most days of the week.  

I absolutely love the daily Zoom calls with my family and friends here and back home in Ireland. People now have more time. My husband and I spent more than four hours on a Zoom brunch one Friday, celebrating a friend’s birthday. We had drinks, snacks, laughed, sang and played games. It was so much fun. 

My friends with kids are having a blast (along with some stress, of course) and now have a deeper appreciation for teachers as they have to deal with schooling first hand. 

There are times when I feel upset and worried, especially about my mother who lives alone in Ireland. One of my best friends is working directly with Covid patients, but I try to keep a positive mindset. If she can go to work and still come home and be a mom and wife and be positive for her family, then I can do my part and just stay at home.  

As a whole I think all over the globe we have so much appreciation for our frontline workers, services and teachers. This is the positive in the darkness of this pandemic. We are all in this together and I think every single person will now have a different outlook and appreciation for life after this. 

Things will never be the same again, but in many ways they might be better. 

Bahar Wilson, founder of Mindfulness UAE, Dubai

Bahar Wilson coping Covid-19
Photo courtesy of Bahar Wilson

I remind myself there are things in life that I can’t control, and Covid-19 is one of them. But there are also many things I can control, such as where I put my attention and my energy. Instead of focusing on how long this situation and self-isolation will last, I focus on myself, checking on my emotions, connecting with my heart and finding a way to help others to give love and positive energy to my community. 

I wake up every morning and I’m grateful for having another day to live. Of course I miss my morning coffee and the new raspberry vegan croissant from Café Nero and walking on the beach. But looking at the beach from my balcony with a homemade coffee is not too bad.

I have decided not to have a firm schedule for my days. I fill them with learning and practising different meditations, yoga, reading books and cooking. 

I’m not a fan of watching the news, especially these days. I watch Gaia, which I highly recommend, taking in the yoga programs, spiritual practices and other interesting talks around healing and science, which help me to expand my knowledge and awareness. 

One highlight of this time has been attending an amazing retreat by Dr Joe Dispenza, a neuroscientist, chiropractor, teacher and author, from the comfort of my home. I was at his four-day event in Dubai earlier this year, and loved connecting with amazing people and meditating together with 16,000 people around the world. 

This is the time to open our hearts and love ourselves and practice self-compassion and to be kind to each other. This is the time to practice being in the moment when we don’t know what will happen next.  

Nothing is permanent in life, so this situation shall pass too. Life may not be the same as we experienced before. l accept it and I trust that the universe has my back.

Dalal Mustafa, fitness and wellness specialist 

Courtesy Dalal Mustafa

At first when we came to experience this strange time, I was all over the place and unsure what I would be doing and how. I am sure just like everyone around the world I was overcome with uncertainty.

I was uncertain what my days would look like and what work would be like and how things would go, until our team suggested that we can’t and won’t stop and that we would start teaching classes from home.

Once that happened, it gave me something to look forward to in my days. I wasn’t used to working from home, because my job is so dependent on working with people and being there for them. But thanks to technology, it was possible.

Once that was in place, it was important to planning for what I would be doing during my day. I am sure everyone living in a small apartment understands. I improvised  and turned the bedroom into an office and the living room into a gym, used the balcony for my reading and so on.

Reorganizing the space often gives a different view and makes me feel I am in a new place.

One really important aspect of my days is moving. Exercise is a great way to boost your mood and energy. Just making sure I get some movement to keep my blood flowing and maintaining a balanced workout schedule is important. Because that also affects overall stress. Making sure to balance between strength, cardio and movement-related workouts has been important to keep me going.

The last and most important point is socializing while distancing. Keeping in touch with family and friends has been super-helpful in keeping me and them motivated.

Maria Kelly, chairperson of Darkness Into Light, Abu Dhabi

Maria Kelly, coping
Photo courtesy Maria Kelly

Even though I have no income and the future is uncertain, I am feeling very thankful for the abundance of wealth I have in all other areas of my life. This time has given me the gift of celebrating all that I do have. I do not worry because I am confident there are so many incredible people working around the clock across the globe to restore life as we knew it before. 

So now, I am using this time to be thankful.

I am thankful for having food to eat each day. I am thankful for having a roof over my head. I am thankful for my friends and family. I am thankful for my good health and the good health of my loved ones. I am thankful for all the amazing people who are working behind the scenes.

I am thankful for this time which has allowed us to be more creative with how we live our lives. I feel now we have been given the gift of living and not just existing!

Vicki Matheson, marathon runner, Dubai

Vicki Matheson coping
Photo courtesy of Vicki Matheson

It’s been more than six weeks since I received the news that I no longer have a permanent job. No sympathy needed here; I learned so much through my aerospace events and marketing roles and have walked away with amazing connections and magical memories. However, my job loss has come at a very unusual time, as of course, everyone is now ‘home’ and is somewhat more available to chat or check in, as opposed to during a typical Dubai working week. To get me through the day, my morning routine is imperative. 

Waking up at 6am to exercise, inject music and coffee, take my dogs out and have a huge breakfast is the daily ritual. I’m loving trying out a variety of exercises for mind and body, using the free access to usually paid-for apps, live online workouts/dancing or posts that many caring instructors and PTs are uploading to keep everyone active indoors. 

I feel very blessed to have a garden where I can find my own space to do this, even if my legs are full of mosquito bites. Cooking has never been my forte, maybe because I never gave it time. So now I’m “ChefVick Extraordinaire,” which can lead to the odd day of over-indulgence in home baking. 

I’ve found time to fix that leaking tap, call family and friends across the globe – bless you Zoom and House Party – condition my super-dry hair, read that how-to-run book, remove negativity from my social feed and study online courses that I just never made time for. 

This is a scary period for us all, so we must ensure we go day by day to look after ourselves and each other, stay connected, show love through kindness and remain safe by staying at home. 

Troy Payne, eccentric chef

Troy Payne
Troy Payne/Photo Ann Marie McQueen

As I wake I am reminded that I won’t be going into work today, I won’t be walking into my kitchen at the restaurant we are soon opening, The Pangolin in Dubai Sports City, and greeting our staff with a hug. I won’t be teaching them about ingredients and produce and the very simple importance of these products, where they are from, who grew them, the intricate details of their flavours, what that supplier did for them to be able to get to us to cook with today. 

But then I prepare lunch for my beautiful wife, who is a nurse and doesn’t have the pleasure of being able to stop like most of us. Yet for me stopping isn’t a pleasure, it’s like being introduced to my worst nightmare. Sure I can write recipes, do costings, continue to prepare to open our new venture, but we aren’t opening today or tomorrow. No one knows when. That’s why a few weeks ago I went for it and started making cooking videos and uploading them to YouTube

How do I cope? I stay positive, I call and message friends and family everyday, check in, see how everyone else is, support them if I can. For those I don’t contact directly, yes I use social media, and I do it to be as honest and as silly as possible. I want to show others that while this situation is not normal, we all only get one shot at life and this world, so live it, be you! Everyone needs to know that we are all doing this together. I do remember our past generations and that they actually faced way bigger struggles and sacrifices than we do now, and those experiences brought us here. So in comparison we actually have it easy! We should all remember they didn’t have internet, social media, mobile phones and health care systems.

Honestly I’m just waiting and hoping that everyone learns from this and stays human. Maybe that’s how I actually cope.

Caroline Labouchere, influencer and model

Caroline Labouchere, headstand challenge
The quarantine headstand challenge/Photo courtesy Caroline Labouchere
We are lucky that David (my husband) and I can keep each other positive most of the time. I’m baking and cooking up a storm and wondering if this is a primal need to feed in response to a perception of crisis. This is not good.
I have been coping really well but as the days go on I find myself missing human contact.  I miss people a lot.  I miss touch. We are sticking to our routine. Exercise at 7am or earlier, Zooming with friends. Working to 12.  Break for lunch.  Back to work on laptops.  Exercise again before supper. Then TV, Netflix etc.
Thinking of content for Instagram is hard and making it appropriate given the unprecedented difficulties all over the world is emotionally testing. David owns a small business closed by decree and he has lots of people he worries about. We have to believe that life will be good when this terrible time is over. There will be a new normal. We are lucky. We are prepared and alive to opportunity. is for every body and mind in the UAE. This magazine is all about moderation, making small changes, little additions and the odd subtraction.



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