How are things after we put our lives on slow mode for the last two years? The world starts making sense again.– by Shirley Christie
Two years. That’s a long time, at least for an individual to stay put and live in a confined space called home. At one point, we ate, we slept, we exercised, we worked, we played, we hung out, and we grew tired of being surrounded by the same things (or the same people).
Work from home. A way of life that was once celebrated and dreamt by the older and younger millennials. We dream of the perfect “work-life balance” that will give us the ultimate freedom within our own set of goals and responsibilities. So, when it finally happened in March 2020, we tried our best to keep things the way they were. We worked harder (much harder than we ought to be), and we tried to tell ourselves that we were lucky to have job security and a professional network during the uncertain time. All at the expense of our thinning patience and depreciating mental health. At times, we lost our peace of mind, we experienced sleepless nights, and we dragged our days like the living dead — eat, work, sleep, repeat. Some of us tried to make it up by buying and acquiring more stuff. With more disposable income left due to staying at home, we started buying things we didn’t need; online entertainment and digital items became a necessity, with jacked-up prices we were willing to pay to retain our sanity (i.e., cryptocurrencies, NFTs). As humans, we try to stay in control at least on something.
The year 2022. Most of us in developed and emerging countries have received at least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The world starts making sense again. The government bodies will ease some restrictions, in order to boost the local economies. What should we do? Here are some personal suggestions (5Rs) from me:
1. Refresh your mind by traveling within your region/country
I know you haven’t posed in front of the Eiffel tower in Paris or been able to share any photos from Shibuya-Japan on your IG or TikTok after the pandemic but relax, you will be able to do that later. Did you know that travel-related tensions increased significantly during the pandemic? Give it time to cool down, while also helping to revive your local economy. If you have a social account with high reach, you can post your favourite local businesses on your post or reel.
2. Re-connect with your local network and businesses
Call or visit your favourite shops, cafes and restaurants that were forced to close during the pandemic. Be a good customer; don’t bargain too much or ask for a special discount (especially if it’s your friend’s or relative’s or client’s business). Be ready to learn new skills and take an unexpected route in your own career path. Remember that life is an open door, as Anna a.k.a. Kristen Bell said.
3. Respect health protocols
As soon as I arrived on the Island of Gods, Bali, I realised that my friends were right; I saw 9 out of 10 tourists from other countries were out and about without wearing any layer of mask. For a moment there, I was triggered to do the same. Eventually, it’s your choice to wear or not to wear any PPE, but it would be sad to see another spike in COVID-related cases in the near future. In my opinion, there are some “legacies” we need to keep from this pandemic/endemic, including access to handwashing amenities in public places, hygiene protocols for the hospitality industry, and awareness of personal hygiene.
People might say I was a bit paranoid or extra careful since the beginning of the pandemic (wearing protective glasses, a mask, carrying some hand sanitisers in my bag, separating clothes from outside, spraying aerosol disinfectant spray on a daily basis, etc.), but I have been free from virus-related diseases within the last two years.
4. Revive your health
Free from viruses is not the same as being 100% healthy. We have our own struggles, and mine might be totally different from yours. Was it anxiety and sleeping problems for you? Was it an auto-immune problem? Since I was indoors 24/7 in a compact apartment, I was lacking vitamin D and had gained a lot of weight. I did try to motivate myself by enrolling on online yoga or gym classes, buying a punching bag, gym ball and a treadmill, but they don’t feel the same. I need to be in a place where I can interact with other people and smell the sweat IRL.
When I got my medical check-up results early this year, the verdict is clear; I am overweight. I went cycling around Ubud this morning and was (not) surprised to find out that I was out of breath when riding on a hilly Andong road with my poorly-maintained rental bicycle. Worse than that, I became a regular patient of a dermatology clinic, ever since the rashes on my face came back without a clear trigger or warning. So, yes, it is okay to make health and balance your main priority this year, although that means you’d need to sacrifice some extra things at work. As long as you are working smartly and honestly, you would still accomplish something great.
5. Re-evaluate your priority
During the pandemic, we have grown a lot (emotionally, not physically *kappa*), even without us realising it. You might not be the same person you were two years ago. Open your old journal, and review your list of priorities. Are they still relevant today (for example, after you have given birth to one or two beautiful babies)? It is never too late to write a new chapter of your life.
I’m currently writing this while sitting down at my favourite local coffee shop in Ubud, and wishing you all the courage in the world to reconnect with yourself and make progress.