Five things we’ve learned about ourselves from the coronavirus pandemic

Shoppers walk through nearly empty shelves that usually hold toilet paper and paper towels in Olympia, Washington. (File photo: AP)

As governments begin to ease quarantine lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, it is now possible to reflect on how people behaved under lockdown – both the positives and the negatives.

1. Looking out for number one

Remember all that panic buying as people flooded out of supermarkets with trolleys loaded with pasta and toilet rolls? Temporary shortages were the outcome, and in the heat of the moment, few spared a thought for all those shoppers who were confronted with empty shelves.

Read more: Videos, photos show results of coronavirus ‘panic-hoarding’


2. Bringing out the best in people

When fears of shortages of supplies proved to be unfounded, many people showed their community-spirited nature. Some volunteered at charities or community schemes, or just made time to phone elderly or vulnerable friends, neighbors and family members, checking if they needed food or medical supplies. Altruism comes to the fore in times of hardship.

Read more: Captain Tom, 99-year old veteran, raises $15 million for UK NHS


3. Realizing which workers are really essential

People are demonstrating greater appreciation of essential workers who have previously been taken for granted: not just doctors and nurses but unsung heroes such as supermarket assistants, couriers making deliveries and the refuse collectors making disposals. And don’t forget domestic helpers: with cleaning staff often furloughed, professionals and business executives are breaking off from their computer work to wipe down kitchens and bathrooms. Both men and women are having to pull their weight around the house, and some are realising that cooking, gardening, DIY and house chores can be rewarding.

Read more: Dubai residents clap, cheer for health aid workers from their balconies


4. Getting to know each other (for better or worse)

With couples often apart during the day doing their respective jobs, and children away at school, family units can tick along, often with the minimum of daily interactions. With families in lockdown under one roof, they have been forced to adapt to each other’s quirks. While a sad consequence of the pandemic has been a rise in domestic abuse, other families have grown to appreciate each other more. Sure, generational divides have been accentuated, with some young people — unfazed by catching the virus — wanting to meet friends in the park, and more responsible older folk social distancing with masks and latex gloves. But parents and kids have also enjoyed more bonding moments over meals, movies and home-schooling. Those living alone have had similar revelations about themselves: while some have inevitably felt lonely at times, they’ve valued phone calls and Zoom streams with friends or distant partners. There’s a feeling that we’re all in it together.

Read more: ‘Communicate with the people you love’ while in coronavirus lockdown: Psychologist

5. Enjoying simple pleasures

People grounded at home have had to learn how to pass time and entertain themselves at home. They may be chomping at the bit to resume normal life — social gatherings, restaurant meals, gym workouts and holiday flights — but they’ve become grateful for more simple pleasures, too. Many people have taken time out to focus on mental wellness and a healthy diet. Technology merits a shout-out here: without digital communications, people wouldn’t have been able to work remotely, stay connected with loved ones or alleviate boredom by binge-watching the latest Netflix series.

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