The COVID-19 pandemic put us into a 3 Months and several weeks lockdown that has dramatically affected our social life, economic activities/ work-life and to some extent the mental health of some. Social Distancing, sanitization, wearing masks and other new habits have become our new way of life. Our old normal way of life has in a dramatic way been a thing of the past and ‘a new normal’ introduced to us.
Even as lockdown restrictions are being lifted to allow people to get back to their economic activities and social life, most people are not comfortable to get back into public life. Unless the government ensures that the necessary precautions to keep people safe are put in place, there are concerns of whether it is safe.
Soon, lockdown days will be behind us and life will have to move on. We all want that. But one thing we will have to deal with, is that our way of life will never be the same again. We cannot live like Corona-Virus never happened.
COVID-19 has interfered with our routines and this has forced us to alter our social habits, effects that could continue into our lives after lockdown.
Social distancing has changed the way we behave in public. People are now more conscious of what they do in public, how they greet one another, how they speak, the distance between them and the other person and so much more.
Our culture of interaction has changed and it might remain that way until people feel safe from the virus and that is a long time.
You will keep wearing your mask, you will keep sanitizing, you will find yourself still minding the distance between you and the person next to you, you will even find it difficult to cough or sneeze in public, just to avoid prejudice and you will find yourself washing your hands thoroughly with soap for 20 or more seconds many times a day. You will still find it so difficult to go to the supermarket and shop for hours or go to church or the mosque comfortably. You will still be very cautious of what you come into contact with, the door handle at the office, the shopping cart at the store. Parties and big weddings will hold on for a while, not that you don’t want to go to such events but because you want to feel safe.
The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the global economy affecting most people’s jobs and sources of income. With the aim of slowing the spread of the virus, measurements such as social distancing affected businesses around the world.
In April, the International Labour Organization predicted that some 1.6 billion people employed in the informal economy, nearly half the global workforce, could see their livelihoods destroyed due to the continued decline in working hours brought on by lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19.
People around the world have lost their jobs and their businesses thus affecting their source of income and increasing poverty cases in third world countries. Employment will be affected post the lockdown as many employers will be struggling to put their businesses back on track using the strained finances they have.
With a good number of businesses especially in the informal sector and manufacturing sector having closed down, there will be a significant reduction in job opportunities.
For those who retained their jobs, their work life is different now. Salaries have been reduced in a significant percentage due to the reduced working hours thus many are not able to meet their needs and wants fully as they did before.
Working in an office will never be the same again. Worries over hygiene will continue being a concern to most people as employees return to the workplace. There will be regulatory changes that companies will have to comply with.
Companies will need to take new measures especially when it comes to hygiene, to minimize contact and reduce the possible continuous spread of the virus. Practices such as sanitization, hand washing, social distancing in the lifts, office space, board meetings and wearing masks, will still be practiced.
As a result of social distancing measures, most companies have now adopted having their employees work from home. This has been one of the most significant changes to the workplace since the pandemic started and is probably going to be in place post the lockdown.
When lockdown started around the world, it was predicted that mental health issues such as stress and anxiety would increase massively.
The mental health of many people has been affected as people deal with the stress of losing jobs, social distancing, staying home, uncertainty, worry and fear of not knowing what the future holds after lockdown.
Most people are likely going to experience the pressure of getting their lives back on track, most looking for jobs and getting back on their feet as fast as possible. Psychologists say this would increase the already massive levels of stress and anxiety.
Other crucial people who have been affected mentally by the pandemic are the medical professionals who have been fighting the pandemic in the frontline. Before the Corona Novel, statistics showed that 10 Million health workers around the world suffered burnout on their line of duty. Imagine the rise of numbers after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research shows that our medical personnel are likely going to experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They have faced the challenge of knowing they are putting their lives at risk while doing their job. This is mentally and physically draining leading to an inevitable spike in burnouts among healthcare staff on the frontline.
Psychologists around the world stress that governments, organizations, companies, religious institutions and learning institutions should be ready to offer psychological aid to their people.
Improved health & wellbeing
Well, in the midst of the predicted increase in Mental Health issues such as stress and anxiety as a result of all the stress that has come with the pandemic, for some, the pandemic has brought improved health and well-being.
With the lockdown and social distancing, most people are spending more time at home and getting to do things they never normally have time to do.
Most people are now spending more time with family thus reconnecting with them. Apart from spending time with family, more people are now able to spend time with themselves having more ‘me’ time, thus reflecting and reconnecting with themselves.
A good number of people have taken to exercising to reduce their stress and anxiety and improve their general health and well-being.
Others have developed new hobbies as healthier ways of coping mechanisms and to fill their free time.
These new found ways of life that promote and improve health and well-being should still be embraced post lockdown and COVID-19. Whether it is spending more time with family, yourself, engaging in social activities, new hobbies, learning new skills or further learning.
These practices will bring a ton of change to every aspect of life promoting increased productivity, focus and motivation as people are more relaxed and calm.
COVID-19 has been a time of uncertainty, fear and difficulty for many individuals, families and organisations. But the same pandemic has also brought a unique opportunity for change and reflection when we consider the positives that could come out of the lockdown.
The pandemic came and changed our world completely and we may have to live with these changes for a long while.