New normal. The past few weeks, hearing this phrase every so often makes me want to puke. Yet, here I am, using it myself because the term is relevant and there’s no getting away from it. Pandemics and tragedies have a way of creating a permanent adjustment in people’s lives.
Covid-19 has necessitated measures that have now become standard, just as the 9/11 attack made paranoia a new normal. But with the coronavirus global crisis, quite a few of these practices are worth carrying on into the future.
Certainly not citizen surveillance or tech company-controlled governments. Yet there are certain behaviors we’re now doing that deserve to make the transition from temporary to permanent. After all, a change that benefits the well-being of people and societies should stay for the rest of our lives.
New normal practices we should bring into the future:
As an OCD afflicted person said,“…the whole world’s getting OCD.” As everyone knows, frequent handwashing is associated with this condition. But the habit will become one of the new normals in our lives, as it protects us from viral and bacterial infections, whether it’s a gastrointestinal germ or Covid-19.
That said, we should wash our hands with soap and water regularly, but especially in the following cases:
- after handling money
- after touching surfaces esp in public areas
- after toilet use
- before, during and after handling food
- before eating
- when caring for a sick person
- when coughing or sneezing
- when hands are visibly dirty
A vast majority of the population will make respiratory manners a new normal, as they’ve seen how a virus can spread so rapidly. If we’re sick with fever, cough or colds, we must:
- Wear a mask to prevent the virus in our bodies from infecting other people.
- Use a tissue to cover our mouths and noses when we cough or sneeze, and throw it in a garbage bin for proper disposal. If a tissue is not available, we use our bent elbow.
- Avoid shaking hands with other people.
Droplets that contain the virus in flu, colds or Covid-19 are passed on to other people if we don’t practice respiratory hygiene.
The new meaning of social distancing is physical spacing, not an attitude. In public gatherings and places, such as subways and malls, a new normal will be less crowding or jostling for space and more courtesy. Even in events and parties with co-workers, acquaintances, and friends, we will instinctively put a greater space between bodies than what we have been used to.
Megacities like Tokyo or New York see millions of people stroll their streets and occupy their offices and other establishments each day, and social distancing presents a bigger challenge. In a crowd of strangers, a new normal means raising collective awareness to prioritize health and safety for everyone.
Work from home
Covid-19 fast-tracked the work from home practice for white-collar workers in traditional companies. The coronavirus showed that a hybrid workplace is doable, and banks, accounting firms, and business offices of manufacturing plants can still operate with a WFH scheme.
In a new normal setting, more businesses can do with less office space. Fewer cars will be on the road, and energy conservation gets a boost. For workers new to wfh, learn to manage your time and produce an output that is equivalent to, or more than, what you do in the physical office space.
Positive changes in behavior
We’ve seen the stigma that Covid-19 brings to people afflicted with it, to the various frontliners, and to families with an infected member. We may even have experienced it ourselves, or been guilty of doing the stigmatizing, uttering racial slurs or showing anger and hatred for infected individuals.
Panic sends people to grocery stores to stock up on essentials. But too many shoppers scoop up all the alcohol, canned goods, and toilet paper rolls, you’d think they were opening up a mini-grocery store, too.
Instead of discriminating, we should take the cue from people who are volunteering their time to help, making masks and cooking meals to donate to those who have suffered from loss of jobs, or neighbors welcoming a survivor back home.
Even if we do succumb to panic-buying, it shouldn’t be a selfish act. Experts recommend stocking up for two weeks, not two years. If we all follow this advice, everyone gets to take home goods and not leave the store empty-handed.
Generosity, compassion, empathy, and gratitude ought to be our new normal behaviors. Then there would be less misery, fewer wars, and more joy.
We still don’t know when the World Health Organization will declare the end of the pandemic. What’s certain is that the pre-Covid 19 normals are gone and a new normal will take its place.