After more than two months of lockdown, the new ‘normal’ is completely different from what it was before COVID-19 & adjusting our lifestyle to it is the only option
The world around us has suddenly transformed. A pandemic has affected the world order and everyone is trying their best to grapple the situation.
It is almost two months now and the new normal is completely different than what it was before COVID-19. Looking back, we were in our madness and frenzy of our daily lives, with the morning rush to send off kids, pack lunches, and run off to take the Metro and reach office on time and then the evening run back home to kids and families.
Now, everything has slowed down. Roads are deserted, people are inside their houses, traveling has become precarious, social distancing has become the buzz word, no dining outs, no movie dates, working from home has become an inevitability and virtual connection has become the new normal.
We are all going through a phase of transition. Sometimes, it is easy and sometimes we just keep questioning if our world is going to be back to normal ever again. Yes, this too will pass but there are many things that this phase will teach us and change the way we look at life.
We have become more mindful of the basic hygiene conditions around us. Washing hands regularly and washing everything that comes from outside including yourself is something that we consciously follow. I hope people also start realising that spitting, urinating, defecating, and littering public spaces is hugely detrimental to us and our world.
Our lives are caught in the vicious cycle of balancing our personal and professional lives and we are perpetually exhausted. When we talk about taking a break, we plan to travel or party with friends. Now we know that staying at home for the weekend and relaxing is good for our mental health. Spending more time with family, reading books, watching a movie together, family meals, and just sitting back and relaxing is perhaps the best way to cope with the fast-moving lives.
I am personally very happy and relaxed during lockdown times. It is time-saving, energy-saving, and high in productivity. I am trying to do things that I have never done in my life. My culinary skills were limited sometimes due to lack of interest or sometimes due to paucity of time. But these are the days when my kitchen game is up and I am churning out different types of meals much to the amusement and approval of my family.
The key to a stress-free life is to keep yourself positively engaged. It could also be a good time to follow your passion and take out some time to do what makes your soul happy. Simple things like gardening, playing a musical instrument, writing poetry, or even painting can help you relax and stay happy.
We have also started to value our relationships more. Many a time we take them for granted. While in isolation, we are consciously desired to stay physically away from our parents in different cities, extended families, and friends. Now, we make extra efforts to connect with them and spend more quality with them, albeit through the virtual medium.
Some corners of your house perhaps remain forever untouched and cluttered due to the whirlwind of the daily routine lives. Now is the time to declutter and make some space. Clean that drawer, dust that bookshelf, and look into your bed boxes to unpack the mess. It will help not only decluttering the physical space but the minds and lives as well, trust me!
Along with the mind, our body needs to be taken care off. Now that you save much of your commuting time, it can be used to follow a healthy routine. Nowadays, there are online fitness classes or you can just log on to YouTube for the fitness regime of your choice.
The lockdown phase has also helped to save some of our expenditures and now we know that it is not always necessary to binge on those things such as shopping, eating out, ordering outside foods, etc. Now, we only buy things when we need them not when we want them.
Maybe we can contribute some of this amount towards supporting the daily wagers, poor and vulnerable, affected by COVID 19 and the lockdown. It is not an easy time for them. Several organisations have been helping in the relief and rehabilitation of these people and there are ways to contribute online. We can, however, begin by taking care of our immediate caregivers, our domestic helpers, the drivers, the society press walls, cleaners, or anyone in the neighborhood who needs help.
Now, when work from home is the new normal, most employers and workers are adapting while the focus on keeping everyone safe and healthy and maintaining as much productivity as possible. It is also not easy to work from home and work for home simultaneously. But the best way is to maintain a schedule, a fixed time of working, a fixed workplace, maintaining a work log, and a to-do list. It will not only help in balancing your schedule but also ensure that your day is productive.
Another very important lesson we have learned during this time is that a pandemic doesn’t discriminate based on caste, creed, gender, social status, financial status, or religion. So only being mindful and following a disciplined life helps in keeping safe. This is also a reinforcement of the fact that development and better access to healthcare facilities should be one of the prime areas of focus for handling such public health crises.
The lockdown has had an adverse impact on our economy as the businesses have to limit their services or shut down until this crisis is over. This is a matter of concern for each one of us, with every level of the pyramid being affected. I am sure every stakeholder is putting the best foot forward to chart out strategies to revive their economic situation after the lockdown is lifted.
Till then, we need to be responsible citizens by fulfilling our duties to ourselves, our family, our fellow citizens, our government, and to people who need immediate help, with adherence to all safety norms.
(Ankurita Pathak is working as a joint director with the Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed are her own)