We all remember the sudden changes and drastic safety measures that we needed to adopt as the Covid-19 pandemic wave gained rapid momentum about a year ago. While we adjusted to the changes in our lifestyle, thinking the discomforts we encountered, as a result, were only momentary, not many people imagined it would alter our lives, and very much our mental states, for a year-long period.
As our social lives became disrupted through social distancing measures that effectively minimized — and in some cases, completely severed — physical contact from our friends, families, classmates, and professional colleagues, it soon dawned on us that a lot more was affected. Besides the discomfort that many of us had to bear when it came to shopping for our groceries and cutting back on our social activities, for some, there was the seeming delight at working from home as this completely eliminated the transit to and from our workplaces and schools. With time, however, the routine Zoom calls for meetings and classes turned out to be a bore for some, just as it became apparent that we have been engineered through socialization and evolution to thrive in environments where close physical contact exists. The spiralling effects of these changes in our lifestyles in a bid to adjust to the ‘new normal’ impacted on the mental wellbeing for some, and in some cases this had adverse consequences on one’s financial life.
These socio-psychological challenges borne from the global pandemic have been observed to affect people of different age groups. The widespread cases have given rise to the term ‘the pandemic wall’ — a condition that psychologists have described as occurring in people responding to the harsh effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
And while we can be thankful for the breakthrough in the discoveries of vaccines to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, a similar drug that could help alleviate the psychological trauma many have been exposed to has not yet been developed. Historically, the world has experienced different pandemics that claimed millions of lives, but for most people alive today, this is their first experience of witnessing people die at such a massive scale.
As unpleasant as the experiences borne from the pandemic are, it challenges us in unusual ways to search for and develop coping measures to help us survive and thrive despite the debilitating effects on our society. Just as stakeholder institutions in government, corporate, and health sectors continue to explore ways to improve quality of life in the midst of the global challenge, individuals hold the keys to making significant improvements, by adhering to safety protocols and promoting measures aimed at improving mental wellness.
We are probably aware of such necessary measures required for us to thrive and to improve the quality of our lives, nevertheless, it is worth repeating them here.
Exercise: Engaging in physical exercise for about thirty minutes a day, at least three times a week, will keep us mentally alert, energized, and boost one’s mood if done consistently. When done correctly and regularly, physical workouts have been discovered to improve the body’s immunity and fortify antibodies in helping fight off diseases that may undermine one’s well-being.
Journaling: Taking notes of important details of our daily and weekly activities have been discovered to be a great mood booster with therapeutic effects on the mind. It has been recommended as a way to help us align our activities with our goals and remedy areas where we may be falling short. Clinical psychologist and professor, Jordan Peterson, recommends journaling as a method for improving one’s health and productivity. “Individuals assigned to write about a stressful occurrence in their own life typically manifest a number of salutary outcomes with regards to health, relative to those who narrated non-traumatic material. Such participants typically pursue fewer physician consultations, exhibit greater psychological health in the long-term and even experience better immune function,” Peterson explained in his treatise on The Benefits of Writing: Health and Productivity.
Financial Planning: This seems somewhat similar to journaling as it requires writing, but it is more technical and systematic in approach. Over the course of the past several months, many people have seen their economic situation take a hit as some organizations have implemented pay cuts across the board, with outright mass layoffs in some sectors that could not cope. This has consequently forced many individuals to review the state of their personal finances as they were unprepared for such drastic changes. Inevitably, the upheavals across many such affected sectors make the need for individuals to be more deliberate with their personal finances a crucial one. The hard and fast rule for personal finance is to always keep expenses significantly below one’s earnings. A second rule is to keep a portion of one’s earnings away as savings for the winter.
Multiple Sources of Income: Let’s be real here; the world has evolved beyond the point where people only kept at one career or job for all or most of their lives. Except you are a neurosurgeon or a NASA scientist or working in some other field that requires your hands-on attention for 40–70 hours weekly, technology has infused some degree of flexibility in our lives, enabling people who care to explore additional opportunities for extra income to do so. Do you have a special skill that you can monetize? Or perhaps, you can create a course program around your career expertise and deploy the same for monetization on Udemy. Are you good at playing the saxophone? Do you speak multiple languages fluently? The prime objective here is to develop a creative approach that will reward you financially while giving you a sense of accomplishment at doing something outside of your comfort zone. This step along with the others highlighted in the previous paragraphs are the essentials you need to pull down that pandemic wall. See you on the other side of the wall! I mean that seriously.