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Balance | Don’t Rush into Normalising

by Jacke Tan

With the easing of lockdowns, circuit breakers, and movement control orders, many are eager to get back to business as usual or are trying to, in an almost nonchalant manner. For some, it’s being able to run errands, shopping, and doing what we used to but with social distancing in place. Our only worry being what to eat for our next meal, when can we go shopping or meet our friends again. We are the blessed ones.

What most of us don’t realise is that the implication of this pandemic is, as reports show, very much like fighting the third world war. We are warring against an invisible powerful enemy. This is not something that will ‘blow over’ in a few months and it might never be ‘business as usual’ for most, if not, all of us.

As we have seen in past world wars, how it changed the world and the way people live. I believe this is the same for us now as well. COVID-19 will change the way we interact, the way we travel, build, and learn. Globalisation has brought about progress, success and also shaped the way we live. It is also globalisation and the ease of travel that enabled COVID-19 to affect the world in the way it did. Success sure can be a double-edged sword.

While I find the resolution of many who have kept to their routines admirable, I also caution those who are feeling the pressure to follow suit and go about life as if nothing has changed, without giving yourself time to process all that has happened. I hope I can encourage you through this sharing of my thoughts on how to adapt and cope post COVID-19.


1. Building Security

You are only human, and it is perfectly normal to feel lost, sad, and upset during this time. Allow yourself the time to work through your anxiety. It is, after all a global disaster, and you cannot shut yourself away from it. Focus on being thankful for what you have around you, the supply of food, freshwater, sound government, family, friends, and your health.

Ignore the productivity porn on social media now. You will notice many are posting about their various accomplishments during this period of lockdown. It is OKAY that you just want to lie in bed and eat chocolate. These people are on their own journey and you are too, so cut out the noise.

Focus on your physical and psychological security. Your priority will be building a secure environment, your home. Ensure you have the essentials you need, and make contingency plans should the situation deteriorates. Have reasonable conversations with your loved ones about emergency preparedness. Build a strong social network within your closest family and friends, and be prepared.


2. Be Mentally Prepared

I instantly felt more secured and prepared after grocery shopping (and I don’t mean hoarding, please do not do that) and cleaning my house, and having a sound and grounded conversation with my mom on contingency plans. I believe you will too.


Next up, is to prepare your mindset to reset to the new normal. Having this mental shift will make it possible for you to return to some level of productivity as you had before. However, do not rush into this. We must embrace the authentic and abandon the performative. This shift requires humility and patience. Focus on the internal changes. It can be frustrating as it has been for myself (for example, I have been trying to set up my bicycle onto my indoor trainer so that I can continue to train). I realised that by adding on to the pressure to ‘normalise’, I’ve slid into greater stress. So letting my honest, raw emotions out, reveals hopefully, the beautiful and divine, giving me the courage to carry on.


3. Embrace the New Norm

Not being able to enjoy the type of freedom we were used to before the pandemic can be difficult for most of us. Focus on establishing some kind of emotional security. I started planning my strategy by allocating time for work, home, and fitness, all within the imposed restrictions. Start with the easy tasks like making a habit of essential precautions (wearing a mask) when heading out, or for those who are already heading back to your workplaces, plan work arrangements such as to minimise close physical contact with others. Tackle the easy ones then slowly move on to the more ‘difficult’ tasks.

We are all creatures of habit, and things will seem more natural once we form our new routines. Our Prime Minister Lee has shared that this coronavirus could take years to run its course. This is truly a marathon that we need to pace ourselves. If we start with a sprint, we are not going to last long enough to finish the race. Understand that we will need at least 12 to 18 months to prepare emotionally to face this crisis and even more time to recover from it. If it ends sooner, we can be thankful. But right now, work towards establishing your serenity, productivity, and wellness under sustained disaster conditions.

This is only the beginning of the journey, and through acceptance is hope and resilience. We know that we can do this, humans are adaptable creatures. We can be creative and respond to changes, and we will find our way through the darkness into the light.


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