And then COVID-19 happened, and everything came to a staggering halt. Home offices were a blessing, zoom meeting in pyjamas were almost godsent. Having no domestic servants allowed many of us to re-set the food habit of the family, even to redeem some habits, like the entire household lending hands with chores. We are more aware of our health now, we are eating lean, staying clean and opting for all things green.
We live in a very tropical climate, though we are moving into colder weather and the effects of the virus may become much more dramatic, I want to focus on some of the good habits we adopted and how we have changed our lifestyles during this lockdown period. Habits, which otherwise we Bengalis would have never cared to practice with such sincerity. There are loads of good habits that we re-learned and I am willing to continue with them.
First and foremost, we are maintaining self-isolation etiquettes and talking to people from a distance and not being on each other's face. We are being respectful of other people's personal space by following social distancing rules, something which we never did. It's a big change.
Most importantly, we are wearing masks when out, well some of us are just covering our chins while some are actually covering the mouth or nose, but whatever the case, most of us do have a mask on our face. And it is protecting us from the pollution plus air borne germs, cold and flu viruses.
For once, we are not spitting or coughing or blowing our noses in public anymore, and keeping a safe distance, especially when we are around people who are coughing, sneezing, or sniffling.
During the early months of the lockdown we were more vigilant, but now, as we are trying to regularise our routines, we have all understood one thing— we cannot go back to old habits. We are cautious about cleanliness and scrubbing our office cubicles, doors, switches, lift buttons with sanitisers and wipes almost regularly.
We are washing our hands more often than we used to do, it has become second to breathing. We have learned the correct way of washing our hands— remembering to scrub not just our palms, but also our fingers, thumbs, and the backs of our hands.
We are aware that the most effective ways to ward off all types of infectious germs—whether they cause COVID-19, food poisoning, or the common cold — is to wash our hands thoroughly and frequently. This is one habit that we should be sure to carry on particularly after using the bathroom or going out in public, or before handling food.
COVID-19 has taught us awareness regarding our environment and our health. We are more aware of what is right and what is wrong health-wise. For many of us, learning that those who are overweight or have underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes suffer more severely from COVID-19 and has served as a wake-up call to adopt healthier lifestyle habits.
We are now more likely to exercise regularly, eating right, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a good frame of mind through meditation, prayer, gratitude, which all result in a multitude of physical and emotional benefits.
For many of us we have re-discovered the joy of cooking during the past weeks or months, there's no reason to give it up once restaurant services and our busier lives resume. Cooking at home saves money. As we are not entertaining, not going to restaurants, not meeting friends or going to birthday parties and weddings, we are actually saving up. Our weirdly fat weddings have now become intimate beautiful affairs, birthday bashes are not European balls anymore, and it is all saving loads of money.
Staying at home in enforced isolation where couples had to spend more time together has brought some couples much closer, and unfortunately, some not so close. Tempers flare and people become agitated quickly, but do try and make peace and find happiness. Everyone is suffering during these times, including our spouse, so show some kind heartedness for them.
Also, we have used this time to develop relaxation habits such as meditation, contemplation and listening to music. Relaxing activities like board games, which have again found their time under the sun, are a wonderful way to connect with family members when done as a group; carrom, ludo, puzzles, cards, scrabble, monopoly are all much sought after now.
It can be lonely spending months cooped up at home, which is why so many of us stayed connected with friends, family, co-workers via computer or phones during lockdown. And while online contact is not entirely a substitute for in-person get-togethers, we are trying to meet in small numbers while maintaining safe distance. However, the good habit that we picked of calling and checking on our grandparents and elderly relatives we must continue with these virtual meets.
On the brighter side, many of us were forced to become more tech savvy, doing all kinds of official work online and remotely, and a new skill set was earned.
Plenty of free time encouraged many people to turn to gardening, not only to grow some of their own vegetables, but also to restore a sense of normalcy. If you started your own garden during quarantine, do not let it die when COVID-19 is finally subdued. Whether you grow veggies, fruits, or flowers, there's nothing like getting your hands in the soil to soothe your mind and bring a smile to your face.
The coronavirus is only temporary and life will return to normal at some stage, but the world will look different because of the health and economic effects of this virus. Let's all cope with these times as best as we can. Let us hold on to all these good habit and practices we have adopted, investing energy in re-learning good practices, for these will help us thrive in the new normal and beyond.