Had any of us been asked the last time we had the pleasure of spending a significant amount of time at home a year prior to Covid, we would have revelled in the distant memory. However, that magical dream has turned into a lucid nightmare. We live in this semi-conscious state, awaiting the moment we’re snapped back into a more familiar reality –– away from this nightmare that not even Stephen King could have imagined.
That distant fantasy has played out, showing us the grass is indeed not always greener on the other side. This pandemic has wreaked havoc and burned any peace of mind some of us still possessed. We have seen the different ways people have handled being asked to stay at home, or forego some of their individual rights to protect the greater majority. Some have buckled down, while others have chosen to prioritize themselves and their entertainment and financial gains.
Being at home for so long has undoubtedly had negative impacts on our sociability, financial situations, and mental health. Regardless, continuing to prolong the eradication of this virus by not forcing ourselves to be inside for one month will only serve to make the situation worse and that much longer.
Our new reality
It has been at least 6 months since our regular day-to-day lives took a hit in North America. In that time, 5 million cases have popped up, and enough people have passed for most of us to know at least one person who’s no longer with us. Scientists and doctors have begged us to stay home and wear masks when we have no choice but to go out to grocery shopping and other essentials. And yet, some parts of our communities still feel they are having their rights infringed upon; this article is for all those who may feel this way.
Let’s throw away the politics associated with the issue. Disregard the fact that minorities are undoubtedly facing the worst of this. Crazy, big ask –– right? Well, bear with me. Take away all of the inequity for a second. Let’s narrow in on our selfish desires. Whichever side of the (mask) issue you stand on, we all ultimately want life to return to a more relaxed state.
In need of company
No one is denying the toll it takes on our bodies and minds to be away from those we most cherish. Especially for those living alone, this pandemic has proved to be quite challenging. As human beings––even the most introverted of individuals––are meant to be social. We grow lonely if we do not have the pleasure of good company. Covid has challenged our ability to run into them, and meet up in spaces we typically deem as safe.
So naturally, some of us are bound to feel that continuing to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines without having them be fruitful is pointless. And I hear you; it is by no means fun. However, continuing to go out in hopes of diminishing the feelings of boredom and loneliness you may be facing at home is not successfully combating the foundational issue. Instead, we are augmenting the amount of time we may be in this limbo. By continuing to go out, avoiding wearing masks, and not testing ourselves, we continue the spread of this malicious virus. If we all agreed to sacrifice just one to two months at home, the virus would be almost entirely wiped out. Our typical pastimes would be much more accessible than they may currently be.
The financial burden of being at home
There is no denying that being home has cost us all precious wages as much as lived experiences. But continuing to go out, with so many restrictions, is not alleviating anything. Going to work without a mask, assuming you still have a job –– or that the organization is operating in person –– is not going to help you. In all honesty, it is a shortsighted trade-off.
You get to stick it to the man; you can continue to stand your ground –– but, at what cost? Companies are continuing to go out of business because they cannot afford to be shut down for this long. Corporations cannot afford to pay all of their workers while they are away sick, or grant hazard pay for the employees still able to work. Your kids continue to be stuck at home, and that may be costing you more money as well, if it means foregone salaries. I get it. Trust me, this feels like a lose-lose.
However, put aside the sunk costs. Consider our future. It will be much more expensive to continue living in this purgatory-like state than to forego one month of work. If we collectively agreed, we could significantly flatten the curve. We have worked ourselves into a spiral, and it will only continue to get worse, otherwise. There needs to be a point where we recognize that we will continue to lose much more (money and lives) if we do not try to truly quarantine ourselves. Put aside the sunk costs. Consider our future and choose to prioritize it as much as you are attempting to value the present. It will be much more taxing–– physically, emotionally, and economically–– to continue living in this purgatory-like state.
Our worsening mental health
Similarly to the company of the loved ones we miss, there is the overall issue of how our mental health deteriorates if we continue to be stuck at home. There is much more we long for. Routines and spontaneity are both comfortable and fun in their own respects, and blending work and home lives causes the lines to blur and our lives to become much less gratifying. We can no longer compartmentalize parts of our lives, and it is causing severe declines in productivity. If you don’t believe me, ask students. Even sitting around watching Netflix can begin to feel like a chore if it is the only thing you can do.
There is no gym escape, or coffee runs, or small talk at the park with a neighbor. Or, perhaps, you have been doing those things. And it is what is keeping you going. But, have you reflected on the dynamic of your interactions now? The way they feel much more distant. You constantly feel worried about offending others by perhaps being too close –– or conversely, aggravated they are insinuating you are not acting responsibly?
Mental illness, or not, we have all begun to feel the effects of this altered lifestyle. Living in this alternate state leaves us stressed in ways we typically are not. Sure, we have all had work stress. But, now the fear of whether your savings can last you through this surmounts that. Your mindless eating, or perhaps anxiety-induced overeating, is also taking a toll on your body. You are perhaps sleeping more than you ever have before, but feeling equally, if not more, tired. This mental strain is all a result of the stress that Covid has brought.
In short, consider our options. Continuing to defy the social distancing and mask orders can feel empowering, but you are still at risk. Perhaps you’ll be lucky and not suffer the effects of Covid if you catch it. And perhaps, you won’t lose your job this year. But, it seems a little far-fetched that nothing will go wrong, when so much seems to be going poorly. Consider the long-term effects of such a situation. If you have not felt the effects yet, you will soon. Our economy will continue to be devastated. Our families will continue to be bored, lonely, and missing out on the opportunity to learn or earn wages.
One to two months is what some scientists once predicted it would take to significantly flatten the curve. It would allow those that are asymptomatic and unconsciously spreading it to end the transferring. It would mean that many more people would not suffer from its all-consuming effects. And, perhaps, this is not most ideal. Maybe, one month is a little too optimistic and not conscious enough of how far gone the pandemic is. After all, even experts say we are in over our heads. But, continuing to ignore the issue won’t ensure a return to the safety and comfort we once knew any time soon.