Ottawa

Don't panic buy, find a side hustle and other tips to ride out the 2nd wave

CBC Ottawa spoke to some experts on what you should, and shouldn't do, this time around.

Experts weigh in on how you can handle the pandemic differently this time around

Empty grocery store shelves are a thing of the past, says one food security expert. There's no need to panic buy during the second wave. (Richard Vogel/Associated Press)

As Ottawa continues to break records with its daily COVID-19 counts and public health officials warn of an impending second peak, flashbacks of empty shelves, long lineups and job insecurity may haunt some of us still. 

Now, more than six months into the pandemic experience, some experts say it's time to focus instead on what's ahead, and they're offering tips on what you should — and shouldn't — do this time around.

No need to stockpile or panic buy

The second wave won't look anything like the first one at local stores: toilet paper, flour and yeast shortages are a thing of the past, said food security expert Sylvain Charlebois.

Charlebois said food manufacturers and distributors are much better prepared than they were back in March, when people rushed out to grocery stores not knowing when they'd be back.

There's no need to panic buy. There's no need to buy too much food.- Sylvain Charlebois, food security expert

"People were buying everything and anything," Charlebois said. 

Now, grocery stores are the ones stockpiling for consumers, he said.

"They've been preparing for the second wave for a very long time."

'People were buying everything and anything,' said Sylvain Charlebois about the pandemic's early weeks. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Charlebois, who's also the director of Agri-food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, said his lab looked at food wastage at the start of the pandemic.

He said the first wave of panic buying generated "way more waste" for the average Canadian household — 13.5 per cent more than pre-COVID-19.

"There's no need to panic buy, there's no need to buy too much food, and I'd be frankly shocked if people in Ottawa do that again." 

Remember, there's always delivery

The food service industry is also far better equipped to serve the public online, said Charlebois.

He said pre-pandemic, it was difficult to get groceries delivered to homes within a few days. 

"Now it's very much possible to actually get your food within two hours." 

'Takeout only' signs adorn a restaurant's door in Carleton Place, Ont., in March. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Charlebois said even if Ottawa goes into a second lockdown, the effects won't be as harsh.

As evidence, he pointed to the new lockdown measures in parts of Quebec as restaurants close to dine-in customers.

"You're not going to see the same shock as what happened in March," Charlebois said. "Restaurants that are closing will serve the public through e-commerce [apps like Uber Eats and Foodora]."

Monetize your passion projects

So your food supply is secure, but you're probably looking at other inconveniences to your "normal" routine until 2022, said Jeff Donaldson, a Carleton PhD candidate with a specialty in emergency preparedness.

Because some industries risk being shut down again and others might never recover, Donaldson said people's primary and secondary sources of income could be cut off.

"How are you going to pay your bills for the next 18 months? That's the question everybody needs to have a look at," he said

You would be surprised and probably floored by what people are willing to pay money for.- Jeff Donaldson, emergency preparedness expert

And if you're planning on leaning on government emergency benefits, that's a "dangerous and precarious" position and "you're planning to fail," he said.

Instead, Donaldson suggests looking for creative ways to earn multiple lines of income within your household.

"You should have a couple of side gigs, side hustles, whatever, and some of them can be as little as $200-$300," he said.

Do some knitting or refurbish some old furniture and sell it, Donaldson suggests. Teaching guitar lessons and foreign languages virtually are other ideas to cushion yourself financially.

Consider turning your skills and hobbies into cash, Jeff Donaldson suggests. Even a few extra dollars a month can make a difference when your other sources of income have dried up. (Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

"You would be surprised and probably floored by what people are willing to pay money for."

And if you make an extra $150 a month? 

"That may not sound like a lot … [but] if you add two or three of those lines of income, now all of a sudden you got your car payments made."

WATCH | Western University professor David Dozois says to prep psychologically: 

Dr. David Dozois, professor of psychology at Western University, says people need to prepare psychologically for a potential shutdown and urges people to stay active by picking up a new hobby or doing things that give you a sense of accomplishment. 0:47

Donaldson, who also runs an emergency preparedness company, said people should have "many, many days of stockpiles" of prescriptions and medical supplies, and to create a household emergency plan for this winter.

"What does your world look like if your power's out for 14 days in the city of Ottawa in January or February?"

Have compassion for yourself and try new hobbies

Finally, people should go easier on themselves for the sake of their own mental health.

"Practise some self compassion," said Marina Milyavskaya, an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University.

"Sometimes people try to strive for the same levels of achievement ... as pre-COVID, and sometimes that's not realistic," she said.

Psychologists are advising people to go easy on themselves during the second wave. (Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

People should strive for two things during the second wave, according to Milyavskaya: maintain a feeling of connection to others, and maintaining a feeling of control over your own life.

She said to reflect back on what went wrong or right during the first wave, and make a plan by asking yourself what you need to get by, and how you can build more support.

"Validate your feelings and recognize this is tough," agreed David Dozois, a professor of psychology at Western University. "It does suck."

Try cross-country skiing, learn a new language, learn a new instrument and schedule many Facetime or Zoom chats with your social circle, he said.

"Try to be creative."

About the Author

Priscilla Hwang

Reporter/Editor

Priscilla Hwang is a reporter with CBC News based in Ottawa. She's worked with the investigative unit, CBC Toronto, and CBC North in Yellowknife, Whitehorse and Iqaluit. Before joining the CBC in 2016, she travelled across the Middle East and North Africa to share people's stories. She has a Master of Journalism from Carleton University and speaks Korean, Tunisian Arabic, and dabbles at classical Arabic and French. Want to contact her? Email priscilla.hwang@cbc.ca or @prisksh on Twitter.

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