Heading towards the new normal post-Covid

  • Changed world: circles designed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by encouraging social distancing in a park in the US. Moneywise this week considers how the Covid-19 pandemic experience has changed us, and what the “new normal” will be like (Photograph by Noah Berger/AP)

    Changed world: circles designed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by encouraging social distancing in a park in the US. Moneywise this week considers how the Covid-19 pandemic experience has changed us, and what the “new normal” will be like (Photograph by Noah Berger/AP)


Almost of all of us have experienced some, or all, of the following:

We’ve been cooped up, isolated.

Been deprived of contact.

Shrivelled our savings.

Eaten too much, mostly carbs.

Drunk too much, mostly for short-term, mood-elevating results.

Been bored, frustrated, and angry.

Felt mood swings, ranging from very peaceful acceptance to anxious fear of the future.

Felt physically unhealthy and mentally fatigued.

Been relieved (and more than a bit guilty) that we’ve emerged unscathed from the illness itself. With great sadness, we also remember those of our community who did not survive.

Now, the reality of our new normal is here. What will that be like? Will we return to where we were?

The given premise is that no one really can state with any conviction just how it will be, because in living memory the global economy has not experienced such a viral-caused, uniform upheaval.

Major media discussions on this new (return to) normal range the gamut from post-Covid precautions, conjectures on economy upticks, consumer demand, regular ebb and flow of community interchange, capital markets and financial intermediation, to political evolutions and much more.

Here are some observations on recovery:

Health. Will we take better care of ourselves? The National Post’s Sharon Kirkey describes Canadian health possible prognostications: “Increased biometric surveillance? One-way sidewalks? Medical-grade face shields at the theatre? Virus-proof, sterilisable body suits to permit “socialising without distancing”? Robot cleaners, immunity-booster consultants, cashless societies, nose swabs and temperature readings for travellers?”

Jobs. Will employment continue in the format that it always has? Will work from home accelerate? How will that affect the individual and family psyche used to community interaction? Will employers change the complete methodology of human resource response? Will there be major shifts in kinds of jobs with some slated for obsolescence and others heading in upward trajectories. Can we anticipate what those job changes will be?

Social distancing may also make individuals wary of heavy communal contact, while electronic environments such as Zoom “disembody us from the waist down,” as one commentator noted in the Post’s article.

Lifestyle values and introspection. It would not be surprising to learn that locally, individuals under SFH (shelter from home) have had serious evaluations of where they are, who they are, how the pandemic has affected their goals, values, and what they want from life moving forward.

Some may be more than happy to return to the complacent secure outlook they’ve always had, while others may embrace the changes, never to return to the old life patterns. Major changes in lifestyles are so very personal. Sometimes, all it takes is an unexpected disruption to launch significant positive change.

Simple living decisions. Back to the Land. Home-grown. Natural. Organic. Farm to table. Do-It-Yourself. Self-sufficiency. Recycle, Reuse, Reduce, Do without. Exercise and more nutritious diet. All these mantras used excessively for years in annoying superlatives have suddenly taken on new meaning. If you are living simply, casually, involved in progressive intellectual work, the superficial impact of appearance, “designer everything” loses to substance over form, plus the sheer expenditure required decreases significantly.

A new collective family togetherness. Home bakers embraced cook-it-yourself by the millions, with the wonderful tactile and sensory stimulation of growing, making and cooking your own food. Readers, there is no greater satisfaction than home food celebration that has changed the world, temporarily, or possibly permanent. Whoever heard of flour and obscure yeast shortages, as home bread making created a new phenomenon. According to Bloomberg, prices on the bread aisle have plunged the most in 80 years.

It has been observed by scholars, philosophers, medical luminaries and others for many years that humans need tactile touch with friends, relatives, dearly loved ones accompanied by the wonderful creative feeling of accomplishment. Social media connectivity, so obsessively followed today, while providing intellectual stimulation is no substitute.

“Hands-on” creating of work, food, prayer, project togetherness and collaboration has never felt so good, or been so widely embraced during this time of forced familiar co-operation. Long may it continue.

Financial Freedom constrained. When your pocketbook is depleted due to circumstances beyond your control, it is devastating. Careful saving is always touted as the ‘rainy day’ backstop to a regular lifestyle. No one could have predicted this abrupt loss of income and resources. Families may resolve to never again be caught funds-deficient. Interestingly, already US savings rates have increased astronomically, reflecting this financial attitude change.

Local level cash expenditures. Will repressed consumer demand and old-style shopping experiences now being allowed again unleash a cascade of spending, treating, travelling, renovating (after staring at those old fixtures and ceilings for months), and the like?

Or will lessons on what financial survival really means take us back to those simpler lifestyles?

And what will that mean to businesses scaling up for return to normal consumer traffic?

This has been a life-changing experience, will it be temporary or permanent?

If we were unsatisfied with our previous existence, will we assume the new normal as our personal goal for change for the better, or will we return to the comfort of the lifestyles that we have always known?

Only you know the answer.

Perhaps, the lesson of this horrendous exposure to an unseen illness is to have taught us that life is precious, time even more so, and the trivial things that we really never needed are not the values that keep us grounded.

Real values, real satisfaction, real connectivity, real relationship-sharing, and real personal creativity will continue to add a further good-feeling dimension to our lives. We should consider looking back at the social-distancing mandate as an amazing opportunity to discover our real selves, and our capacity to create, to care, to physically connect, to communicate with feeling and to survive any obstacle in our way.

References:

• After the Covid-19 crisis ends, what does our ‘new normal’ look like? There are several possible scenarios as our world tumbles through this pandemic. The National Post, Sharon Kirkey. https://tinyurl.com/y9jrtp4f

• Prices in bread aisle plunge. Bloomberg, Katie Dmitreiva. https://tinyurl.com/yd79kysz

Martha Harris Myron CPA JSM: Masters of Law — international tax and financial services, dual Bermudian/US citizen. All proceeds earned from these columns are donated by Martha and Royal Gazette to The Bermuda Salvation Army. E-mail: martha.myron@gmail.com

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Published Jun 13, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 14, 2020 at 12:06 pm)

Heading towards the new normal post-Covid

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