COVID‐191 is a great human tragedy. There is no doubt that this worldwide pandemic has had far-ranging negative and catastrophic effects on people’s lives both now and for years to come. Yet, the human spirit continues to be resilient where we accept a new reality and create something better, a “New Better Normal.”
“Our Homes” as our “New Worlds”
Physical distancing or social distancing2, work-from home, and virtual schooling confined all of us to homes, which is all the world we had. This change was not easy…we had no time to prepare. We needed to make the best of this new reality and a lot of positive things have come out from this. For one, many families became closer. Granted, some considered spending so much more time with their families to be taxing but for others it provided children more time to enjoy being with and learning from their parents and vice versa. This may be the most endearing experience and memory from this pandemic.
A survey by academics at the University of Plymouth3 suggests that COVID-19 could have long-term benefits for family life. Since the lockdown had resulted in more family time, with parents feeling more connected to their children, were able to involve in their education and were able to achieve a better work-life balance.
Adversity Creating Powerful Relationships
The lockdown measures have invited vulnerability and risk within families. Parents are expected to work full time; in fact, they are working long hours, performing with the fear of keeping their jobs secured. School were closed leading to distress in many families not accustomed to being so closely confined for a long time period. This forced parents to multitask to manage their jobs, household chores and also be their child’s teachers and therapists. This became a much more difficult task with where there is more than one child that needs support and even more difficult when the child or youth have any special needs. Parents feel overwhelmed and guilty, as their schedule required them to constantly create harmony between work, household chores and parenting. But the good that came out of this is, parents are learning to embrace imperfection, lower the standards, slow down, reflect on things that are important, prioritize and re-prioritize. Parents are focusing and taking care of their physical, mental, emotional and social health. This experience will surely create a profound impact that will offer a new trajectory to people’s lives.
Kitchen Time is Bonding Time
Families cooking together get time to share, bond and work together. Setting aside a time where the entire family can work together to create a meal gives us a chance to pause, catch up and just connect with each other. Families confined to home provided the opportunity to cook more and that turned into a family affair4. A new study by food and beverage communications firm5 concluded that Americans’ confidence has soared at cooking and many said they will continue with their cooking habits even after the pandemic is over and the world returns to a new normal. In the long run, this will help families save money when they would have otherwise eaten out. This will also nurture the healthy eating habits as people are incorporating healthy food choices when they are preparing meals consciously.
Social Health “A Second Chance at Connection”
Social distancing can result in a decline in both perceived social support (how much support we believe we’re getting from close friends and family) and received social support (how much quantifiable social support we’re actually getting) 6. The need for these perceived and received aspects of social support became more important during COVID-19 pandemic, as people experienced increased anxiety, depression, fear, and isolation.
This situation made people realize the need for social support and importance of social connections with the immediate and extended families. There is research that supports the positive health benefits of social connectedness like longer life, stronger immune system, experiencing happiness, improvement in memory and cognitive skills, increased motivation for self-care and lower levels of stress hormones7. There are various surveys done during COVID 19 pandemic, which have revealed that local neighborhoods have become closer due to lockdown restrictions put in place. Some children had developed stronger connections with their neighbors as the pandemic impacted their regular social connections through school8. The families took extra efforts to reconnect and rebuild their relationships with the extended families as each was concerned about each other’s safety. The families have discovered new creative ways of connecting socially by virtually playing games, having virtual parties, friends and families’ weekly calls and indeed this will be a “new better social normal”.
Another humanizing aspect of this pandemic comes from the need to regularly teleconference with colleagues due to offices being closed and everyone working virtually. The people have shared that with teleconferencing they are getting the chance to peek into aspects of other people’s lives we would otherwise not see such as their surroundings (commonly some aspect of their home) or choice of background during conferencing, as well as what they wear when they are “out of uniform” and self-grooming or how they respond interrupted during a meeting by a child or pet “video-bombing” the session. These special windows into the lives of others help us realize that we share more common aspects of our lives than we may have otherwise appreciated and have helped build the interpersonal connections with people, which will be special forever. The pandemic has created unforgettable positive and negative impacts in our lives, which will remain with us forever. It brought with it misery, fear, uncertainty, isolation, anxiety, depression and death to name a few, but on the other hand had taught each one of us to be fearless, responsible, resilient, and much stronger than we were before. This situation has provided each one with the option of making a choice to either focus on negative and be depleted or focus on positives to create a “New Better Normal”.
- COVID-19 Pandemic https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
- Social distancing/ Physical Distancing
- University of Plymouth: COVID-19 could have long-term benefits for family life. https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/news/survey-suggests-covid-19-could-have-long-term-benefits-for-family-life
- Cook together as a family https://tocaboca.com/magazine/cooking-together/
- Food and Communications Firm Hunter: Survey- Cooking more at home could become the new normal post- pandemic
- https://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Article/2020/04/15/Survey-Cooking-at-home-will-become-the-new-normal- post-pandemic
- The Long-Term Effects Social Distancing May Have On Mental Health https://www.huffpost.com/entry/social-distancing-long-term-effect-mental-health- therapists_l_5ebaeb61c5b6894ab8b8f53f