People are desperate for a return to normality. What is the new normal though? For many disadvantaged citizens, it means a return to the uncertainties of claiming benefits, of working zero-hours contracts, of being afraid to be who you are, of trying to make ends meet knowing you’re one unexpected bill away from joining the many on the streets or reliant on food banks.
What kind of world do you want to return to?
I ask you all, is that the normal we want to return to? Or is there a better way? A way where the wellbeing of common people is more important than profit and old loyalties. A place that defends rights and doesn’t stand by and watch when they are violated. A world that doesn’t punish the vulnerable. It is my fervent hope that such a place, such a country can be achieved in my lifetime.
The only thing we can depend on in life is uncertainty. With no way to get rid of it, we must live with it. Again, be proud of yourself for living through this time and acknowledge without shame that times have been hard.
Self-care should be a priority
While advice on routines and healthy lifestyles are great, the most basic self-care concepts are saying yes and no. Say yes to opportunities and say yes to learning and growth, but say no without guilt to anything that won’t make us happy or that’ll be too much right now. It’s important to go at our own pace to avoid burnout and to take things slow when going back to what we used to do.
Taking time to recover
Take the time to get used to the “new normal” again and don’t feel bad about needing to do that. If there was anything about lockdown that you enjoyed ( perhaps more time with family? Or newly found hobbies?) aim to make these part of a new lifestyle for yourself. There is no need for things to go back to exactly as they were, or to feel that you must rush it. We all have more appreciation for the simple things now so don’t let life get in the way again.
How will you make change happen?
Humanity is resilient. There have been other global crises and even pandemics before this one. We will recover. Once you have the belief that things can change, the question is ‘how do we make that happen?’
We need to reach out for help and connect with others. This could be through existing connections and services or new ones. The government should provide clear guidance and make considered decisions. They should invest in services to support people, especially those related to mental health and wellbeing.
An inclusive recovery is essential
As a country, the UK should learn the lessons of ill-preparation for a global crisis and be better prepared for the next. Inequalities need to be tackled and the vulnerable need better support.
We need to be open to hearing the thoughts of a broad range of people, both old and young, rich and poor and of every ethnicity, postcode and orientation. This helps ensure that our perspective is an informed and balanced one and that decisions we make as individuals and as a society and nation reflect the needs of everyone. While this is particularly important for governments and decision-makers, the change starts with the individual.
Ruberta Bisson is a 24 year old, female, young adult carer from the UK. She wrote her pieces on COVID-19 as part of Restless Development’s Build Back Better campaign. She has a blog under her name on Medium where she discusses mental health. She's also a part-time tutor and in her spare time she likes to listening rock music, reading and politics.