Saturday, February 04, 2023 | Rajab 12, 1444 H
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Living on shifting sands: new realities

The little things that used to be a part of life are now sorely missed. Changes and uncertainties have become the norm. One never knows what to expect the next day. There are no significant plans ahead without the risk of flights being cancelled, countries closing borders and large odds of losing down payments on tickets or vacation reservations.

It feels as if time has stood still while waiting for the pandemic to pass, but as the days go by, further social, health and security adjustments are implemented. Life has been put on a hold. And now, health experts warn, get ready: Covid is here to stay. Anxiety and stress appear to be here to stay as well. The effects of Covid-19 on mental health have yet to be seen.

Social changes were already being noticed before the pandemic, but they were assimilated at a slower pace. A new norm is evolving rapidly. It seems the future is being restructured with the seeds of a collective revolution presenting the end of systems and the beginning of new ones.

Labelling everything as pre-Covid or during lockdowns is a huge characterisation. It is disturbing though, that the coronavirus pandemic has reached the point where it defines our entire lives.

Will everything return to normal or will they never be the same? Several people have been asked what they miss the most about their pre-covid lives. Personal feelings swung from powerlessness to excessive information consumption, including conspiracy theories. Anger, mistrust, isolation, grief, were just some of the sentiments echoed.

The loss of mental and bodily energy became excruciating for many people. Others expressed their pain at seeing decades of hard work being ripped away by opportunists. The feeling of freedom had vanished. Going where you want, when you want, a or not someone has Covid is a thing of the past. Physical interaction is another significant component in the answers. Hugging and shaking hands used to be so commonplace. This emotional stabiliser is currently restricted. Physical touch has been shown to reduce sickness and strengthen the immune system, as research studies point out. We were much happier and didn’t know!

Travelling without restrictions, no tests. It was such a pleasure. Furthermore, it now has a long list of requirements that must be met and paid for! Have you thought how natural and effortless it was to breathe freely? That has changed with the need to wear masks — aggravated by acne caused by the friction of wearing them. Masks probably will stay for a long time, like some other peculiarities of the pandemic.

What about being sick and not having to worry about it? The little flu with no repercussions? Now there’s the worry of whether it’s the flu, a simple cough, or Covid. Is it Omicron or Deltacron?

From so many replies to the question, what do you miss the most from pre-Covid, several young people expressed their difficulties in processing anxiety and uncertainty regarding their future. Their career plans no longer stand.

The pandemic has shaken any sense of control people previously had. Fair enough, there was always the possibility that things would not go as expected, but that was unusual. Now, the unusual is the norm. The need to improvise, adapt, and overcome a ‘new normal’ can be draining. It seems people are being pushed and shoved into new adjustments. Choppy and bumpy changes will continue to happen here and there, but the widespread of double standards highlights deep inequalities, and that is disturbing.

The reality we were familiar with is being transformed and it could be the beginning of a social, economic, scientific and technological revolution. So, it is important to look at the changes and try to understand them.

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