Updated: Jul 27, 2021
Lockdown was not auniversal experience for everyone, for some, it was a chance to learn new skills, build familial relationships, take up hobbies, but for others, it was being trapped in unhappy homes, lacking mental/physical health/support, or suffering from loneliness, frustration, or simply boredom.
Overall, lockdown’s worldwide effects were that our lifestyles were uniquely dislocated, coming to a global halt. However, with more opportunities available, everyone is breaking out of their adapted bubbles, steering a range of responses from the general public, economy, and the government.
Time to flip the switch
Venues and events are reopening and serving gradually, but certain restrictions remain as we start to socialise again. However, ex-Health Minister, Matt Hancock’s, questionable and scandalous behaviours against COVID guidelines have given way for New HM Sajid Javid and PM Boris Johnson to address the exhaustion and exasperation of lockdown. Therefore, releasing the UK from all restrictions as of July 19th. As always, news has initiated debates on whether the public is suitable to ‘live with the virus’, especially considering that further milestones were agreed, by the PM, to be implemented based on “data not dates”.
The statements made echo questions for all; will we fail to uphold the country’s political, economic, and social needs over the risk and variants of COVID-19? Can we trust each other to be accountable and responsible for future consequences? Most importantly, is everybody and EVERY body truly mentally and physically primed to reinvite their unlimited personal freedoms and decision-making?
‘Self-care is not selfish’ – Catching up on mental/physical health
After many months indoors, people are self-dependent in building good health, with limited access to in-person engagement/assistance, and extensive wait times/lists for appointments. However, expansions in online services and guidance is continuously growing, via social media, online CBT and therapies etc., producing greater awareness and learning prospects on how to resolve procrastination, unhealthy mindsets, and mitigate other negative effects of restrictions.
Although, there is a strong push towards everyone moving forward, without much supervision, initiating confusion and unhelpful coping habits that are concerning now that we’re witnessing shifts in relaxed environments. Many are establishing COVID-19 anxiety syndrome, the by-product crisis from COVID-19, combining attentional bias, avoidance, and perseveration behaviours, typical symptoms within the UK population (Albery et al., 2021; Drake & Sanfins, 2021).
Producing personal exploratory pilot research, 24 participants found personal characteristics changed greater than others
Social interaction: Countless are nervous about interacting with others again, in fear of catching COVID-19, increasing anxiety build-up and weakening confidence, mimicking symptoms of PTSD, OCD and general anxiety. Nevertheless, majority are enjoying the option to meet friends and family.
Restrictions are not over: People are still isolating, and unlike before, remote work is lessening as institutions are reopening, creating obstacles for many who anticipated to revert to original settings for learning and working.
Hygiene: People are no longer abiding to wearing masks in open spaces comparably to previous lockdowns. Increasing numbers of people don’t wish to wear them, which, no matter the justification, limits the ability for everyone to socialise normally or freely.
Back to normal
It’s hard to accept that life will most likely never be ‘normal’ again. Many of us fail to realise that our expectations of a ‘normal life’ are an illusion. Irreversible life changes have occurred e.g., losing loved ones, losing a job/marriage/home, significantly affecting how we move on. Resultantly, destabilising our anxiety/depressive thoughts, confidence and sense of control as expectations remain unrealistic.
Although, this can also be a good restart. By adjusting to swift advancements, the potential of reaching herd immunity, the population will have safer opportunities to carry out daily tasks. As an evolutionary and forever adapting population, COVID-19 created a new life dimension that many generations have never faced, but with this, new aspirations can be made to encourage fulfilling futures.
Covid -19 Culture
Adults and children have had significant changes in personality, most becoming more introverted and reserved. Yet, now, it seems that people are feeling forced to fall back into old socialising tasks. COVID-19 culture illustrates this response, especially in young people today on social media, showing their discomfort in talking to new people as they merge into old routines.
COVID-19 culture emerged consequently through stress imposed by the pandemic and is still ongoing. For example, ‘Coronaspeak’, has gone viral since national lockdown. Terms ‘self-isolation’, ‘covidiot’, ‘social distancing’ have spread globally, and experts believe these phases in language aid relief to the unpleasantness of the pandemic. However, some language has become a mockery, not only to the public, but to linguists. The UK’s universal slogan “Stay alert. Control the virus. Save lives.” exemplified this clearly, as the Prime Minister’s words received major backlash on the message, stated as ‘confusing’.
Social media’s creative responses to the phases have allowed active participants to remain humourful during challenging times. People can pick and choose the information they seek as ‘true’, leading to misinformation, conspiracy, and increasingly creative activism (Sharma et al., 2020; Tasnim et al., 2020; Wiederhold; Ferrara, 2020).
COVID-19 culture also allows us to explore views of ourselves, leading to greater body criticisms, reinforcing weight gaining behaviours and overall concern for BMI, weight and shape. This followed after gym closures and limited capacities, heading to the routine of at-home exercising (Hammami, 2020). The maintenance of COVID-19 culture has led to minimising our needs to socialise in external environments.
COVID-19 culture also allows us to explore how we review ourselves, leading to greater body criticisms, reinforcing weight gaining behaviours and overall concern for BMI, weight and shape. This followed after gym closures and limited capacities, heading to the routine of at-home exercising (Hammami, 2020). The maintenance of COVID-19 culture has led to minimising our needs to socialise in external environments.
It’s important to recognise that, having similar thoughts and feelings towards the pandemic’s aftermath is inevitable. Challenges and changes with personality, behaviours, aspirations should be expected, as norms we’ve accustomed to will change and become refilled with new routines, roles, and responsibilities. It’s alright to step back, evaluate everything isolation has taught us about ourselves, and encourage acceptance in transformation. It is vital to accept help available. Support is in novel, formal and informal structures, that we can benefit from. The permanency in lockdown’s effects question the revival of pre-lockdown life, based on everything COVID-19 has impacted.
Rather than dwelling on the past, we can benefit from focusing on advancing the present and upcoming times by slowing down our return to habitual life, to rebuild trust, minimise avoidance, and communicate for improved integrated societies. This will best prepare us for upcoming change, with the hope that one day, we leave COVID-19 as a memory.