We’re living in strange times. Whether you had to survive lockdown on your own or had to cope with your family 24-7, Covid-19 has not only changed the world we live in, but it also had an effect on our relationships and emotions. In the urge to protect ourselves physically, we should keep in mind that there is a new social dynamic and that we shouldn’t neglect our mental well-being.
It’s interesting to observe the changes in social behaviour as we’re following the Corona curve. Initially we thought about stocking up on essentials and preparing for lockdown and while we might’ve joined a new WhatsApp group and were introduced to online meeting platforms, it all seemed temporary. A week or two into lockdown, on the rare occasion of going out, excited to see others, I sensed a little bit of animosity between the supermarket shelves. The rush for the last bag of bread flour and the fear of having someone in our space or touching the same fridge door, brought a new social insecurity and intimidation.
Online communication soared and even those whose Facebook profile was last updated when they signed up, wanted to become part of digital discussions. “In the past month, more than 3 billion internet users logged onto a Facebook service, including its central app, Instagram, Messenger or WhatsApp, Zuckerberg disclosed. This number constitutes roughly two-thirds of the world’s total internet users. This was a record for the platform, which reported average monthly active users of 2.60 billion in Q1.” (Read more) The adaptable beings we are, zoom links become a standard part of meeting requests, Sunday church services went virtual, you could enjoy a music concert online and rather than going on a weekend breakfast ride, we followed chefs on Instagram for bread baking classes and we read up about coffee culture while sipping on our homebrew.
As regulations changed, so did our social behaviour. We were delighted to see people and the initial slight hostility made way for a new openness. As regulations loosened, supermarket interactions started to relax, even as the lines got longer. Cycling within the limited radius, we greeted and waved at strangers and on our morning walk, we spoke to neighbours we haven’t seen during our regular rushed schedules. We realised that we needed more than staying in touch online.
More than a health scare that induces social distancing, Covid-19 can also have an impact on our mental health. It intensifies everyday emotions and feelings and even the most stable among us, might find ourselves acting out of character. The lockdown has affected us in very different ways. For some the challenge is loneliness and boredom, for some being overwhelmed with new ways of coping at work and stress about financial survival, saving your business, your responsibility towards employees or your family. To some degree, we have to cope without the social support structures we know. There is no denying that Covid-19 has an effect on our mental well-being and as a result on our relationships. (Read more)
As we are still very much amidst the pandemic, this social experiment is all but concluded. We are social beings, we miss human interaction, connection and touch. Thankfully there are the digital alternatives, but while they give us the option to interact and to work from home, I think we also realise that they are not enough. While there is a renewed appreciation for those around us and what we have in common, we should also be more aware of how we all react differently to challenges and for now, a bit of patience and kindness would be my best advice.