Valentina Cabanzo, 24

Before COVID-19, spending the day around the house sounded good. Now, most people feel frustrated because they have to stay at home, and they don’t know when they’ll be able to leave again.

Valentina Cabanzo, a 24-year-old interior designer who lives in Barcelona, Spain, is in some ways happy at her home, which she says is “beautiful.” But that doesn’t mean the novel coronavirus hasn’t impacted her emotionally. When the outbreak began in Spain — which has the highest death rate of any developed country — she felt at risk of being infected.

“I usually travel in public transportation,” she said. “And it was very stressful to feel exposed to the virus constantly.”

Weeks after the outbreak, she explains, people were allowed to roam the streets and go to work. Spain’s nationwide lockdown began on March 15, just days after the country passed 6000 infections. Cabanzo does not think the Spanish government took the necessary precautions in the beginning.

“Having Italy as an example, I think the Spanish government didn’t take the right measures on time,” she said. “It was not mandatory to stay at home approximately two weeks after the virus got to Spain. So we still had to go to work.”

The pandemic has given her perspective on life. She said people should see living on Earth as a gift, not as something to take for granted. One of her coping mechanisms is thinking of staying at home as her decision, not someone else’s.

“It’s a small trick but it works sometimes,” she said.

Taking a break from the news has also limited stress, she says.

“That has helped me to disconnect a little bit with what’s going on,” she said. “And not live in fear, but with acceptance.”

Edda León is a born and raised Venezuelan writer. She believes journalists are the gatekeepers of democracy and information is the most powerful tool you can give to people.