A year ago, we all started our journey to the pandemic that none of us chose. By this time last year, we headed to our first coronavirus lockdown. No one ever foreseen such a future was ahead of us. COVID-19 has affected our lives in a way no one ever imagined.
This situation has become the new normal. Well, these few months have taught us all about how life could be ever-changing and how we have to adapt according to it.
The COVID-19 situation has changed everything like, how we work, learn, and interact socially. All of this is replaced by staying indoors and social distancing from each other. All the shutdown and lockdown guidelines have led us to a virtual lifestyle both personally and professionally.
It has been found that this pandemic has changed the way people think about their physical and mental health in both positive and negative ways.
The world is addressing a lot of problems which you didn't even want solutions for, like:
- How to dress up while working from home or while attending online classes
- Setting boundaries with family
- Timings of work, etc.
Don't worry; we will solve all your real problems here. The best part is: you can execute all those solutions in your favorite pajamas and tees; you don't need to change into a formal shirt for a Zoom call.
Keeping aside the fun part, let's talk about how our lives are affected.
How has coronavirus changed our lives?
Down a year, the coronavirus has wholly disrupted our lives. Below are the top ways COVID-19 has changed our lives:
From last year everything has been about videoconferencing, zoom calls, mask up, and homemade food. Perhaps the work from home has the most lasting impact than any of these. This pandemic drove companies worldwide to shut down and start working from home offices.
More than 60% of the employees who are in the white-collar profession are forced to work from their homes. In the beginning, it seemed like a respite from the daily stress. Additionally, the blessing was avoiding traffic jams in cities such as Los Angeles, San Jose, Bengaluru (Karnataka), Delhi, Mumbai (Maharashtra).
Companies have reported that they saved millions of dollars on utilities and operating costs. Businesses even started considering the high-end offices are unnecessary, as businesses began going smooth without these.
However, the jobs such as health department workers, security forces, cops, retailers, and people involved in the transportation business have no option of WFH.
With workspaces shut, many canteens and restaurants are closed. People working in it like the cooks, waiters, janitors have lost their jobs. Mostly, the poor and young people have experienced job loss and furlough. This is a heart-wrenching situation.
According to a survey conducted with the WFH employees, it states that:
"After the end of the pandemic, most employees want to have a choice in deciding where they want to work. Many of who are preferring to do a mix of both WFH and work from the office."
It is known as the profound shift. With the ongoing situation, the companies might have to deal with it for few more months. Businesses will indeed save a lot of money on transportation, utilities, and rent. But the loss of permanent WFH is just as significant.
For instance, it is seen that people who are beginning their careers have faced many issues in understanding and adapting to the company and being productive in WFH. Face-to-face communication is essential to establish a connection between the new employees and the team.
Increased respect towards frontline workers
We live in a world where our luxury and needs became a priority, such as shopping in big malls and eating in fancy restaurants. The pandemic has taught us the real heroes, and the true luxury is the frontline workers and food, respectively.
However, in this unprecedented situation, the frontline workers are at high risk. They are helping to get everything normal by helping people. The healthcare people such as the doctors, nurses, diagnostic center are working 24*7 and assisting the infected; the delivery persons are ensuring that we get everything on time at our doorsteps. They are the primary reason for the decrease in covid-19 cases.
Apart from the healthcare-related people, the security professionals, delivery persons, line cooks, farmers, grocers, ambulances, and cab drivers are also working full force to help people in such chaotic times. These people are also at high risk, as they have to come out of their homes to work.
With vaccines being available from the end of last year, most of these frontline workers are getting vaccinated. However, there are a lot of people who need vaccination so that everything runs smoothly. These unprecedented times have taught us how under-appreciated these workers are, without whom our lives would be a total mess now.
Initial lockdown chaos
Last year when the first lockdown was declared, it created chaos; the supermarkets and grocery stores were empty in few hours. People panicked and started stocking up essential groceries, fruits, vegetables, and notable even toilet paper.
Not just these immediate essentials, the sanitizers, and handwashes also vanished from the market into thin air. In India, where people didn't even know that hand sanitizer exists, but with the outbreak of corona, everything went out of stock in a few days.
While coming to grocery, fruits, and vegetable shopping, the stores ran out of it in few hours. Even the online stores were running out of essentials. The e-commerce stores such as Big Basket, Grofers, Amazon Fresh had a long waitlist for essentials delivery. In addition to this, online payment became one of the safest ways of payment. Most of the people used online payment instead of cash on delivery to avoid money exchange contact.
It created a lot of chaos at the beginning of the lockdown. But, with time, people got adapted to the situation and understood that it would stay few months, which helped a lot to the current situation or in the second lockdown.
Effect on Nature
The International Energy Agency (INA) said that there is a slump in demand for electricity during lockdown; it is like a "Stretched Sunday."
There is the increased use of disposable gloves, masks, and plastics for single-use, raising environmental concerns. Apart from this, there is a reduction in vehicle movement, causing a decrease in pollution. It is estimated that the pandemic helped reduce global emissions by approximately 8 percent in 2020. However, according to the UN's World Meteorological Organization, despite the massive drop in global emission, the climate heating gases have reached a record level in the atmosphere.
According to the Paris Agreement scientists, if we cut off the global emissions to less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperature, we can successfully cut off the emission to half by 2030.
However, it is tough to know how people will react to climate emergencies after the pandemic. It is most likely that people will have fear using public transport which will ultimately result in buying more personal vehicles.
The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how vulnerable we are in front of nature. It's not just an infectious disease; it involves biodiversity loss and extreme weather. The solution to all these lies with us, by the change in our behavior.
Importance of mental health
Coronavirus has cooped up all of us in our homes. People are isolated, stressed out, losing jobs, and grieving for their loss. This is the feeling people are getting in this prolonged lockdown.
Wars and attacks are also traumatic, but people get over it after a while. But the pandemic has started and is just going on and turned our lives upside down. This can have a wide range of implications on the people and their mental state resulting in a mental health crisis.
Worldwide, it is reported that there is a soar in virtual and text-based mental health services. It is the most significant change seen over the past year. There is a massive spike in the telehealth industry, primarily focused on mental health.
Many major companies and businesses have started taking mental health seriously and providing necessary assistance to their employees.
If we think more about it, will give us get depressed.
Let's think about lesser real problems!
Every single person who wants the lockdown to get over it actually loving it. They want this freedom along with the freedom to get out. They are worried, of course, about the Stray Dog Association, which is consistently holding meetings about where all humans have been caged and taken away.
To take care of stray dogs and to take care of the mind that used to stray in those workdays, let's assume the beautiful lessons of lockdown that are bringing us down to our basics:
Fun is Family: Aren't video calls the most important invention ever? You cook a nice dal rice, click its pic, post it on social media and finally eat it. You share it with your mom – only to know that dal needed to contain lesser water, and rice needed to be soaked beforehand. Not vice versa.
Hygiene: Well, the way we all are cleaning up every nook and corner of our homes shows just one thing. That we will drive Odomos/ mosquito repellant industry out of business, so people, to keep their economies growing, should we have to keep your home untidy. NO!
That spa you had been waiting for: Remember that visit to the spa on your Sikkim/ Kerala vacation? If you can't go there right now, do it in your home. Please, do not take an online course in it. Just follow what your mom or grandmother says. What you always want to do in your PPT presentations – follow your intuition and ignore it. Follow your intuition and massage your feet with ghee just before going to bed. Take care of yourself like you take care of a baby.
O, thou evil exercise: Tell us something, don't you want to go to those workout from home kind-a-people and have a cheese pizza with them? Of course not! Who would like to share their pizza? Yet you do want to know from where they get it in the first place. It's a habit for them because they hit the gym consistently.
Now that you finally "have the time" to work out, you don't know what to do. More so, those "workout from home" are another level of torture altogether. Why not abandon those and do something basic? Like five rounds of Surya-namaskar takes like 30 minutes, and you're done! It's like saying a hi-five to the sun and then starting the day with a bright light. This brings us to our fifth and final point.
Nature, it will go away: During pre-lockdown days, most of our days looked like:
Wake up -> Breakfast -> Leave for work -> Meetings you don’t know why are they happening -> Leave at night super tired -> Dinner -> Bedtime
In lockdown days, our days look like -
Wake up -> Breakfast-> Check email -> clean utensils -> Snack -> Purposefully do not send that email -> Lunch -> Power nap of two hours -> Wash clothes -> Email at EOD: Send that email and close work -> Snack -> Phone -> Dinner -> Bed time -> Snack in the midnight.
Do you see how busy you are now! And I want you to enjoy nature! Not really. I want to give you a perspective. Your freedom to go out, your freedom to eat, shop, have fun – all will come back. What won't come back is this spring. The freedom to step out into the balcony and breath the fresh air that happens just once a year – is real freedom. Nowhere to go, no traffic jams to navigate, no honking to give you an attack, just you and nature.
Awaiting for better New Year!
We have learned to suffer the virus or fear it. We have learned to mask up ourselves and adapt according to the situation. We have wept for our family members, friends that we lost, dreams dashed, and businesses closed.
COVID-19 Vaccine has already reached the market; we can expect most people to get vaccinated by the end of this year. We can hope for better things to come along very soon with it.