By Mary Louise VanNatta, APR, CAE

Happy 2021. As we peek out of our homes and into the new year, even just to offer an arm for a vaccine, we hopefully are leaving most of the quarantine behind. These long months have created a new way of living that has been coined, “Quarantine Culture.” This is what developed as we hunkered down in our homes and learned what it meant to be in a pandemic. What will you take with you from Quarantine Culture and what will you be happy to leave behind?

Of course many will never be able to regain the lives they knew before the pandemic. Loss of friends or family members, their own health, their business, or jobs will make 2021 a year of slow recovery. This should not be minimized. It’s clearly not all good.    

It appears that the primary outcome of Quarantine Culture has been a mistrust of institutions we previously supported. The ongoing fear has taken its toll on relationships, creating a dynamic where people are afraid to even be near another person.  

  • Stressors during quarantine have been reported to trigger symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (avoidance, anger, and extreme fear for own health).
  • Our obsessive consumption of media (watching too much TV and social media) has made our view of the world highly distorted.
  • Our confidence in our own government has us questioning data and wondering if rules are equitably applied.
  • Our relationships with others may have taken a nosedive when we are dividing ourselves into anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, anti-government, anti-social, and so on, and so on.

What will we take with us? There should be some good habits we take out of our lockdown.

  • Buying less, cooking more
  • Wondering what it’s all about (work, faith, competition)
  • Heading outside to walk and exercise
  • Rediscovering the value of family time.

So how do we heal in 2021?

There are a lot of tips you could probably read on the internet on this subject. But I will add just a few thoughts: Remember, this was hard for everyone. You survived something really difficult.    People experienced quarantine differently. Some will recover more slowly than others. Be gentle with yourself and those around you. Forgive and move on. We have new political leaders, a vaccine, and a lot of rebuilding to do in 2021.

Mary Louise VanNatta, APR, CAE, is the CEO of VanNatta Public Relations, a PR, event planning, and public relations firm.


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