COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our personal and economic wellbeing. Our Defence Community Relationship Officer in Victoria, Swapnil Sawant, has been pondering the positives we can take with us post-pandemic.
Psychologists suggest that our inter-dependability on each other and sense of community are two positive by-products of the pandemic.
The virus does not discriminate between status, power, popularity or nationality. It is this indiscriminate nature of the virus that evokes a sense of vulnerability in us. In our vulnerable state, we place a higher premium on strengthening our social bonds and boosting our appreciation for friends and family.
We’re checking in with each other more often and keeping an eye out for those around us who might need a helping hand.
Sense of community
Along with our growing attachment to each other, our fascination with trivial cultural ideals – such as fame and riches – seems to have diminished. The emergence of ‘communitarianism’ is becoming the acceptable model for social interaction. Acts of kindness, messages of gratitude and recognition of our essential workers have become widespread.
How can we maintain these principles of inter-dependability and communitarianism beyond the pandemic? It could be possible my remembering three simple actions.
- A sincere, heartfelt smile can temporarily alleviate stress for someone having a tough time. Research from the Uppsala University in Sweden reveals that smiling at someone who is upset can force a reciprocal action, as well as a physiological and neural reaction. Even when talking on the phone, a genuine smile can convey positive energy from the caller’s voice and lift the mood of the listener.
- Avoid arguments – and panic buying. When we first began to shut down the economy, some people began hoarding groceries and essentials such as toilet paper and soap. It was irrational behaviour and labelled “un-Australian” by the Prime Minister. The supermarket is the last place you want to get involved in an argument – or even worse, a physical altercation. So don’t pick a fight over a roll of toilet paper. Arguments are rarely resolved with two parties agreeing whole-heartedly with each other. Resentment usually lingers. The best way to prevent the unhappiness and tension caused by arguments is to avoid them at all costs.
- Avoid criticism. Rather than ticking someone off for not doing what you want or not meeting your standards, try asking questions or suggesting how to do something differently. People are less defensive when engaged in conversation rather receiving instructions. Encouragement instead of criticism can be more constructive and result in greater harmony.
Our inter-dependability and communitarianism could be the silver lining to the dark cloud that is COVID-19. Hopefully, if we can maintain these two gains, we will preserve our health and wellbeing for a positive future.