What have we learnt about ourselves and our priorities while we’ve been stuck at home?
Being forced to stay at home has created a different sense of ‘free’ time. Much of what we previously filled with meeting friends and family and travelling we are now spending gardening, cooking and reading.
While some say life will quickly go back to ‘normal’, once restrictions on movements are over, others plan to make permanent changes to their lifestyles as they reflect on what possible long term impacts the coronavirus restrictions may have for society.
It may be easiest for introverts to adjust.
“I don’t have to go to parties, weddings, and other gatherings which I don’t usually do anyway, but now I have an excuse to stay at home,” Susan Gregoriou, 55, commented.
She also referred to the environmental aspects, as the lack of traffic means cleaner air, less use of fossil fuels and she hopes this will lasts.
“I for one am willing to stay at home much more. We used to travel abroad five to six times a year, I don’t think I will ever do that again, now that I have come to the conclusion that staying at home is much more peaceful and less stressful, plus being better for the environment.”
Clinical psychologist Chara Demetriou agreed it is easiest for those who are happiest with the current situation to cope, but there is also the element of fear which means travelling is now perceived as much more stressful than just a short time ago.
“It needs time for people to feel comfortable in social situations again,” the psychologist, who works at the mental health centre of the University of Cyprus, said. “It will definitely change the way we think about travel.”
Emma, a 35-year-old writer, has a different perspective. “I am used to being at home and working from home because of being in ill health. Not a lot has changed but I have reserves of strength which I have built up which I can use.”
Her approach is philosophical. “We adapt easily and forget easily. I hope this time will stick in human memory and we develop a new appreciation for life.”
Panayiotis Constanti, an academic who has long been interested in critical thinking and organisational behaviour, is wary of governments and what the consequences of their actions are and will be for people and the environment.
“We’ll be sensitised for a brief period, but it’s likely that we’ll resort to ‘business as usual’,” he commented.
“We’ll continue to rape the environment; worker exploitation will continue unabated as folk become more self-centred; unemployment will rise and remain at high levels for many years, while wages will plummet. Surveillance is going to be with us for a long time.”
Greens MP Charalambos Theopemptou also believes things will go back to the old normal, if we let them.
“I am speaking from experience. I tried walking to work in the past, but most pavements are not suitable for walking and the smell of all the cars makes for uncomfortable walking so I stopped,” he said.
Will there be as many cars as before? There is new evidence which will help push for more public transport and the introduction of new bicycle lanes, Theopemptou said, pointing to air quality department data which clearly show how much cleaner our air has become since fewer cars are on the roads.
“On a personal note, I think people will do more cooking and less eating out, if only because they have realised how much money they can save. I wish some people will maintain the habit to go out and walk.”
Positive changes in our personal lives can and should be part of the future, Jeannette Kyriacou, 42, believes.
“My work is quite demanding physically and mentally, and I worked very long hours six days a week, but I also very often had paperwork to do on a Sunday,” she commented.
“Now I have had time to exercise properly and regularly, and spoken to my family so much more than before. All of the above must stay in my life because they give myself and others joy. I will have to readjust my programme to do this, but I believe it is possible to do so.”
“It depends very much on the perspective in life how all this affects us,” psychologist Demetriou commented on the different views. “It is certainly a transition for most.”
“If somebody reads and reflects a lot about the subject, they feel the dangers. Others find comfort in rituals like washing their hands or wearing a mask.”
The thinking processes of each person determine how far this will really change their lives long-term, Demetriou said.
“People adapt. This is a pressure point in our lives. If people don’t like this situation they will have second thoughts about their priorities long-term.”