The Alumni Voice Volume 6
Written by Caroline Cruz Picq, Psychology and Psychotherapy, 2018
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." -Marcel Proust
The coronavirus pandemic has brought mental and physical health to the fore for so many experiencing lockdown, quarantine, furlough, and more. Now that the worst, hopefully, seems to be behind us and shops, workplaces, and restaurants slowly reopen, hopefully we can all take some time soon to catch our breaths and ponder on what changes have taken place.
An important impact of covid-19 has been a change in perspectives. The pandemic has caused a heightening awareness of the consequences of our actions on ourselves, loved ones, community, and planet. Before March, there were still a lot of risks to our physical and mental wellbeing, even if we didn’t acknowledge or fully realise them, but since lockdown, our perceptions of risk to ourselves and to society have changed substantially.
Whilst the virus was a new threat to life, and remains a major challenge to global health, it also highlighted other problems that existed before the outbreak of covid-19. Often a compromise of busy and professional life, is that we neglect our diet and do not pay enough attention to the food we eat or the types, or amount, of exercise we do. Our lifestyles, even before the pandemic, dictated whether we were strengthening or weakening our immune systems.
So, what has changed? The virus and our individual and collective experiences have brought the issue of physical and mental health to the forefront of our minds. Our jobs and schools, social life, family, news consumption, and mobile-device content has been wholly orientated around reacting and responding to the virus since early spring.
The virus has become all consuming, and a result has been a change in our perspectives. Only time, however, will reveal whether these are lasting and positive or fleeting and insubstantial changes. Of course, issues directly related to the virus, such as washing our hands or wearing a mask are now relatively obvious and ubiquitous. We must, however, also consider:
How are we going to live our lives from now on?
How are we going to respect and care for our bodies?
What food and activity choices are we going to make?
How are we going to take care of our emotional and mental health?
Our expanded perception allows us to make choices more consciously, and maybe find new long-term ways to improve our diet, mental and physical wellbeing, and lifestyle.
Covid-19 has forced us to stop pretending threats don’t exist to us. Virulent zoonotic viruses do not respect borders, politics, race, or gender. The threat is real to everyone, but from this, we can take an opportunity to collectively improve habits, and from this possibly realise that collective action on climate change, pandemics, and other global challenges is the only way we can make our societies less vulnerable to such threats in the future.
Changing perspectives is the first step. A change in perception means we’re ready for new reactions, leading in turn to new behaviors. Now is the time to reinvent ourselves, to reinvent our work, to reinvent our societies. Now is the time to change our paradigm.