In late March 2020, South Africa declared a state of disaster as the COVID-19 virus hit our shores. We were immediately forced into a new way of living, with strict new rules to help slow the spread. Infograms popped up everywhere from work emails and malls to websites and TV. How to wash your hands for 20 seconds became a popular search on YouTube and sanitizer was a must in your car, your handbag, your kids’ backpacks – literally everywhere! Back then we thought things would go back to normal quickly, but that was not the case. We hit 180 days of lockdown sometime in late September.
Lockdown has been eased quite dramatically since then and South Africa is now on lockdown level one, meaning most of our regular activities have gone back to “normal” again. We can predict some rules, like wearing a facemask, will remain mandatory for months to come and some of us are happy to shop this way forever.
We share a few tips on how to adjust back to normal after lockdown.
Stick to the Rules
Many of us expected that things would eventually to go back to normal – like it was pre-COVID. That is unfortunately not the case. Instead, we have to accept the new normal. We have become accustomed to many new rules, processes and regulations. Laws even changed. People are still getting infected and it is still important to stick to the rules.
According to a Health International article by Michael Faucher, we may find it challenging to adapt, particularly from a mental health perspective, but there are two key points we need to accept which will help make the transition period easier. “First, any restrictions that remain in place are there to protect your health and the wider global community, helping to save lives. Second, view this new normal as a staging post on a journey back towards what life was like before the pandemic”.
Settling in at the Office
Unless your job was an essential service, you most probably worked remotely, from home. This in its own was a major adjustment for many. Making sure you had a fully functional office at home was quite stressful, but we did it and it suited many people’s job description, making it a permanent thing with many of us remaining to work from home. Others, have slowly but surely made it back through the office doors and things are different there too now.
Michael continues “your employer will likely implement social distancing rules and other restrictions in the workplace as per government advice. If you have any queries or concerns, you can ask your manager for more information. Some people may not be able to return to the office straight away if they have specific vulnerabilities to COVID-19, so consider what is best for you as per local public health advice.
If you are back in the office, remember to stay connected to those who may not be, to ensure they still feel part of the team”!
Hanging with Friends and Family
Let’s be honest, many of us broke the rules when it came to visiting friends and especially family during the height of the pandemic. I, for sure, broke a few rules and having said that, following certain precautions did help, and these precautions should most probably stay in place.
Michael advises that we should follow the restrictions put in place in your local community, particularly when it comes to protecting the vulnerable and elderly. “In many countries, there are still restrictions on the number of people allowed to gather in public spaces or restaurants, so you may need to start small and see what works best for your family. One option is to try and meet up in outdoor settings, such as a walk in the park or a bicycle ride, as the evidence points to COVID-19 transmission rates being much lower outdoors in comparison to indoors.
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