DURING unsettling times like these, I can't help but look to New Zealand and Denmark for their take on the year that's gone from bad to worse.
Having lived in both of those nations, I feel like they have a pretty good grip on reality and know how to keep morale high among their people under trying circumstances.
New Zealand has fairer systems for their traditional owners of the land; even their national anthem reflects that through the Maori lyrics in the opening verse ahead of the English words.
Denmark looks after its own like no other nation on Earth.
I'd willingly pay higher taxes, knowing education, health, dentistry, maternity leave, childcare and retirement were all generously covered by the government.
With fewer things to stress about in life it's no wonder Denmark ranks among the happiest people in the world, year-in and year-out.
With the coronavirus or COVID-19 cat out of the bag, I plugged into the New Zealand news late last week.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared in a video with two chief science officers, one with a blue puppet to explain the ins and outs of the virus to kids.
This seemed sensible.
Kids have lots of questions about COVID-19 and the video was talking about it in a very hands-on way.
I felt if Jacinda was doing a puppet show, we were probably overthinking it!
Within 24 hours, the Pacific nations had ramped up their approach to COVID-19, clearly trying to flatten out the rising number of cases needing hospital treatment and potentially crippling the health sector.
In New Zealand, travellers from outside the Pacific region - at first - were required to self-isolate for at least 14 days after their arrival. Now all visitors must do the same regime or face being deported.
On Saturday Denmark closed its borders to everyone except for Danes, Danish residents and green card holders until April 14. Medical supplies, food and other essential imports will still be allowed to enter the country.
On Saturday at noon, Denmark closed its borders to everyone except for Danes, Danish residents and green card holders until April 14. Medical supplies, food and essential imports will still be allowed to enter the country
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the measures were needed to stem the spread of the virus.
"We're painfully aware that this will have severe consequences for businesses and families," Ms Frederiksen said.
"But the evidence suggests the extreme reaction is justified."
The prime minister added that she herself had been tested for the virus, after feeling unwell, but that the result was negative.
"We can see how the situation in Italy developed in a catastrophic direction," she said.
"Everything we're doing is to ensure that we get through this situation in a different way."
Restaurants, cafes, schools and activities have closed in Denmark for at least a few weeks.
On Saturday night, my Danish girlfriend messaged me to say they were pretty well confined to their homes for the time being.
They were watching movies, baking, knitting and preparing good meals to lift each other's spirits. She wanted some more titles for movies and series they might watch on Netflix.
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Strangely, it didn't sound very far removed from the Danish concept of "hygge", which was big in the English publishing world a few years ago.
Hygge, pronounced hoogah, is the idea of spending time with family and friends, creating feelings of cosiness through food, wine, beer, music and candlelight.
With such short days in the winter months in Scandinavia, hygge was probably invented to buoy people's spirits until spring.
I'm not sure that hygge under house arrest has the same feel-good factor to it.
However, if we're all looking at some level of social distancing during the coming weeks and months, there's a lot to learn from the Danes about hygge.
Eat well, wash your hands, hydrate, hunker down and be kind to each other.
That's not at all bad.
In times like these, hygge well, everyone!