As all of you are aware by now, most aspects of our lives are now governed by the spread of COVID-19. This includes our lab work, which has had to be paused, many leisure activities including sports and social gatherings, and even the FoodSmartphone blogs which have drastically changed the topics covered in the last couple of weeks. Despite the mystery of this virus origin being far from solved, many scientific sources point that pangolins are the prime suspect. These animals are often traded in some countries where there is demand for their meat and scales. This is one of the main theories considered nowadays. Could this have been avoided by using a smartphone-based sensor able to detect contaminants in food, thus avoiding the supposed species barrier cross? Probably not, as this coronavirus was totally unknown to us so there was no way we could possibly develop a sensor able to predict this contamination. However, this highlights the importance of food testing.
Apart from this interesting debate on whether (and how) we could have avoided the situation that we live now, I hope you are all well and safe at home. This brings to us to a new situation: homeworking. It is a bit frustrating having to change your plans and stop some experiments that you had planned for the coming days, especially being so close to the end of the project. However, it is in the interest of all of us to overcome this situation as soon as possible to get back to normal. And there is always a lot of computer work that we never find a moment for while working in the lab, either submitting that manuscript that has been in the pipeline for so long, doing some statistical analysis of collected data, or writing some chapters for the thesis. In my case I have decided to prioritise the submission of a review paper and an original manuscript, in which I am working at the moment, as these both will contribute to writing the thesis. The first one consists in a review about the use of gold nanozymes for biological applications, a topic that has been present in my lab work since I started the PhD. As for the latter, it will include parts of my findings about gold nanozymes and its applicability to detect Mycobacterium bovis, an important milk contaminant. Hopefully this lockdown period will give me time to work in both of them as much as possible.
However, being locked at home may carry some drawbacks difficult to handle at some points, so it is interesting to read some tips spread in the last days to make the most of this lockdown situation. So I am going to share some of them that have resulted helpful for me.
- Have a daily routine. This is important so that we can focus for some hours in our work and then have some time for leisure at home. Otherwise, it is very easy to fall in endless and unproductive working sessions.
- Get dressed in the morning as if it was a normal working day. I know it is very tempting to stay in pyjama since you are not leaving the house, but it really makes a difference when you start working in your desk.
- Keep an active mind. When the weekend comes, you might feel that you want to be more relaxed for a couple of days, which seems totally normal. But there are many things to do at home! Watch a movie, read a book, play some instrument, whatever that keeps you busy to avoid getting bored.
- Find new hobbies. With plenty of time in our hands, it might be a good moment to start playing that instrument that you abandoned, keep learning that language that you struggle with, watch a TV show on Netflix, do some exercise at home…, anything can work!
- Keep contact with people. I have found Skype to be an amazing tool in the last week. Especially if you live alone it gives you the chance to chat with your family or friends, even enjoy a beer with them through the screen J
- Follow the experts’ advice and avoid an overload of information!
I hope these tips help you during the following days, so you can make the most in terms of work without losing your mind.
Looking at China right now we might expect things to start getting back to normal in a couple of months, so we can still be optimistic to enjoy the summer weather more than ever if we all contribute by staying at home!
¡Mucho ánimo y hasta pronto!