The coronavirus pandemic is a human and economic crisis that has affected thousands of people and businesses across the world. It has triggered profound and unprecedented changes in societies and brought about shifts in the way we live and go about our daily routine. In my opinion, although many of these changes may fade away with the end of restricted living, some are likely to persist as people enter a new normal. Here are five ways that have worked for me in embracing the new normal.
1. Stay Positive
I maintained a positive outlook throughout. How long will the virus continue to be a threat? No one knows, but based on previous pandemics, I can say, with some confidence that it will not last forever. So I remain optimistic and try to adapt to and enjoy the new normal. That is not to say I downplay the gravity of the situation. I keep myself updated on developments using credible sources and take the recommended precautions.
2. Perfecting WFH
WFH has been an unexpected global experiment. Before Covid-19, not many companies offered a WFH option and even the ones that did, did not offer it for extended periods of time. This was probably because they were unsure whether it would work over prolonged periods of time. Well, surprise, surprise, it works! I have realised that a bit of preparation and planning can go a long way in ensuring that WFH is as productive (maybe even more productive) than regular office. I had to do a bit of adjusting at the start; where to station myself, how to maintain connectivity, how to avoid interruptions, how to keep track of things, etc.
But, I have adapted to this new way of working and have started to enjoy it. Firstly, I save about two hours of commute time every day. That is roughly 20% of the time associated with office before the crisis. Secondly, meetings have become more productive as there is less digressing and more action-oriented discussion – and they start and end on time! Thirdly, there are fewer interruptions compared to working at the office. This gives me more time think about new ideas.
3. Stay Active
An outcome of WFH is that I am restricted to one room and at times one chair. At the office I move around a lot and frequently go up and down the stairs. This does not happen at home; also I cannot go for a run or a swim to keep active and fit and this can be quite detrimental to health. However, with the easing of the lockdown, I have started cycling – which has become a trend. The point is: is keep active.
4. Start a Hobby
A hectic day at work with back to back meetings and constant sitting can be nerve racking. A good way to unwind and take your mind off work is to pick a hobby. Some people find reading to be therapeutic, others find writing a good way to express themselves. Catching up on TV shows and movies may also be a good idea. Some people have taken up interior designing to give a new look to their home.
As far as I am concerned, I went back to an old hobby: writing. I also started to come to grips with the current stock market situation. PSX has been going through a bearish trend over the last few months with KSE-100 Index hitting a five-year low of 27,000 points in April 2020 and although it has recovered slightly, it is still hovering around 33,000 points, down from an average of 40,000 points. Sooner or later, there will be a spur in economic activity and PSX will make a rebound.
5. Reconnect With Loved Ones
Human beings are social animals and crave making new and maintaining existing relationships. It is also essential for maintaining mental health. I stayed connected with my loved ones even when I could not meet them in person. Given that virtual get-togethers are quite the thing now (birthday parties, baby showers or simple weekend gatherings) I have been inviting my extended family as well as college friends over Zoom for virtual parties. This is a great time to get in touch with long lost friends and rekindle old relationships. Anxiety is normal in such testing times but laughter makes for great therapy, so I try to laugh and have a good time with friends and family as we all work towards the light at the end of the tunnel.
When will we return to the life we knew? Only time will tell. Until then, stay safe and sane in the new normal. What are your thoughts on this? I would love to hear your feedback.
Affan Cheema is a marketing professional in FMCG industry. The views expressed here are personal and do not reflect the views of author’s company.