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The “new normal”: What the post-lockdown era is going to be like

It has been just over 10 years since the last strike of a pandemic (2009-2010), yet long enough for a millennial to struggle adapting to the shift in lifestyle imposed by the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite the risks of the pandemic’s second wave, most countries began to ease down the lockdown measures. Reasons vary from a place to place: some leaders prioritise the economic profile of their country, others feel the statistics of new cases have dropped enough for it to become safe. Yet, as people are getting back to workplaces and restaurants, concerns prevail: how safe is it to socialise with colleagues or use public transport? What is it going to be feel like traveling to work again after 5 months of freedom? If you are asking yourself similar questions, Dazl has found advice shared by professionals to clear the air about the post-lockdown world we are entering.

One of the burning questions that arise as the lockdown lifts is how safe is it to appear in public places – has the government come up with a way to track the new infection spread to ensure everyone else’s safety? Bridget Treacy, an editor in Big Hospitality, shares that as the hospitality sector begins to reopen, businesses will now play a crucial role in minimising the spread of the infection in communities. Pubs, restaurants and hotels are now responsible for collecting guests’ contact details that will be used in case of an incident of another guest/employee catching the virus. Heath secretary Matt Hancock says that the idea of “track and trace” is to literally trace the virus – to find out who has it and who it could have been passed on to.

Yet, with the new tracking system in action, how comfortable do we actually feel getting back outside? At first, the expectations of finally getting back to strolling through the markets, enjoying restaurants and cinemas or going abroad are not quite matching today’s reality. We felt so nostalgic about our favourite outdoor activities and now we are slightly terrified about going back to the usual. Clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Cassiday notes that anxiety, tiredness and irritability many experience at the moment result from being stuck in the state of fear, uncertainty and confusion for months. Karen believes that people are not hyper excited about going outside because the uncertainty, the confusion and, mainly, the virus itself are still there – we will just be experiencing them with less social isolation.

Dr. David Rosmarin, an innovative clinician and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, also shared his thoughts about how it might feel diving back into the outdoors – he expects there to be additional stress as we return back to pubs, restaurants and workplaces. Yet, he says that mixed feelings about getting “back to normal” should not be taken by surprise as it may still not feel normal for quite a while. A helpful technique David recommends for those with social anxiety is to start engaging in extroversive behaviours, such as starting small talks with strangers and initiating conversations with colleagues. The “fear it and do it anyway” approach as such will lower social anxiety and help adapt to the new social scenery quicker.

Along the same lines, after spending a few months in the comfort of their houses, many people are now going through something The Useful Psychologist aka Sarb Johal has referred to as “FOGO” – the Fear of Going Out. As staying at home has been widely associated with safety, leaving the house now appears to be a threat to safety. If your professional setup allows you to keep working from home, Sarb recommends taking this opportunity and avoiding the risks for as long as possible. However, if you have to return back to your workplace, try to not let the FOGO build up and get in your way. As anything in life, change requires adaptation – after being told to stay at home to suddenly being called back to the office, fearing something that risks your safety. All it takes is being aware and cautious – the more seriously we take the preventative measures, the less are the chances we will get in trouble.

On a positive note, what are the benefits we can take from being quarantined and stepping into the post-lockdown world? Well, rather than calling it the “new normal”, Manoj Adlakha, the CEO of American Express Banking Corporation encourages us to call it the “New paradigm”. He poses an interesting question: has the “normal” we had before the lockdown been a set of habits and routines that were blocking us from seeing the significance of the vital aspects of our lives - health, family, friends, humanity? Is it the normal we are trying to go back to, or shall we admit that this crisis has shown us something we would not be able to see otherwise? Manoj believes that this crisis, although tragic for many, is something that has a potential to largely benefit our lives. Bringing attention to mental health and wellbeing, being more empathetic, kind and considerate of others are probably the first behaviours we should engage in as we start navigating through the post-lockdown era.

With kindness, love and compassion,

Dazl Club

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