COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world for good. Denial, confusion, and frustration has given way to gradual acceptance that the coronavirus is here to stay. Communities will need to find ways of living with it by minimizing risk to the greatest extent, in terms of health as well as social and economic life. Okay. So, we all have accepted the present COVID-19 pandemic context and uncertainties that the future entails. What now? What will be the ‘new normal’ and how will we need to adapt to a new way of life? How will we survive the covid 19 pandemic?
Mental Health – We need to destigmatize groups such as elderly people and healthcare workers, and stress on the importance of basic care such as eating and sleeping. Helplines and deploying mental health professionals can help people deal with anxiety, resentment, depression, and trauma induced by lockdowns. Setting routines, meditation, expression of gratitude, and adaptability are useful practices in helping individuals cope.
Personal Protection – While governments are actively taking steps for prevention and containment, protection is largely the individual’s responsibility. Mask wearing, frequent hand washing, and maintaining about six feet physical distance are becoming ingrained in our social behaviors. Mask wearing, in fact, has long been a tradition in many countries such as Japan as a precautionary step against respiratory diseases. Getting vaccinated is so important to protect ourselves and others. It is likely we will continue to need to be vaccinated each year, but we can do it!
Travel – The delayed closing of international flights and borders was not only the primary cause for global transmission of the virus that deemed it a pandemic, but it is also the most alarming aspect that sets it apart from other epidemics of the past. As borders gradually open and flight routes resume, we will most likely approach travel with some caution for some time to come. While airlines are enforcing strong protection measures, International travel for vacation purposes will probably be limited for some time to come.
Work from Home – We are transitioning not just in terms of how we work, but also in the very nature of work itself. Occupations which demand close contact, such as in restaurants, hospitality, malls, gyms, and salons are the most impacted. However, the economy is fast adapting to a new way of doing business. The work from home model is now largely accepted as the way of the future.
Spring brings hope. Anxiety was natural. It is natural to have this anxiety and even understandable. We do know that there is an uncertainty about the future. What we can do is exercise all precautions. Exercising precautions gives a sense of comfort that we are doing everything that we can in our control to avoid the virus, builds our confidence, and encourages positivity. Lockdowns have increased our digital time since everything we do from work, entertainment to socialization is related to the digital sphere. Figure out activities that are non-digital and space out your digital time. Take long walks. Read a book, Write some poems. Place some bird-feeders in your yard or right outside your window and become a bird watcher! An important part of staying positive is to be productive. We cannot view productivity in the pre-COVID productive definition. Teachers are hard on themselves. A teacher who has to manage virtual and hybrid classes may think she is not doing her best, but the fact is that she manages to do it and help her students connect with each other is something! Even household management is productive, and we should count it as such in our measurement of productivity. We must redefine productivity and make it realistic.
Humans have achieved many remarkable things — we have voyaged to the moon, developed technology to communicate over vast distances, and created wonderful art, music, literature and philosophy — all because our unique human brain allows us to delicately balance prospective gains with immediate needs. We need to harness this capability to continue to deal with the effects of the pandemic on our everyday life. We’ll continue to do great things, but perhaps it will take on a new look after covid. We are the most adaptable creatures on this planet. Stay positive and know that we are going to be okay. Some things may be different, but our determination, creativity, kindness, and compassion will be stronger and brighter than ever!