What may change, what stays the same—and how to protect your health in a post-pandemic world
Ah, pre-COVID days. When the word “mask” meant Halloween, “social distancing” sounded like an introvert’s party strategy, and “corona” was a cold beer (or Hemingway’s famous typewriter).
That was then. This is now.
It’s been a long road, and we’re not out of the woods yet. But as COVID case numbers continue to decline in many parts of the world and vaccines roll out, we can take a peek at how life may look after the pandemic is over.
“Look Into My Crystal Ball…”
Will we see a Roaring 20s style party culture, like after WWI and the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic ended?
Or will people choose to snuggle up at home, work remotely, and get supplies delivered by drone to avoid human contact?
Will we go back to shaking hands in business meetings?
Or at least hugging our grandparents?
Will “going off to college” mean logging on to a virtual campus experience?
Or physically entering those ivy-covered walls?
What the Experts Say About Post-Pandemic Socializing and Education
Science News behavioral science writer Bruce Bower posed questions about post-coronavirus life to a group of experts to get some answers.
Christopher McKnight Nichols, historian at Oregon State University, told Science News that a “dramatic rise” in gatherings and leisure activities is a distinct possibility. “That’s what happened in the 1920s as societies emerged from the 1918 [influenza] pandemic and World War I,” he said.
Still, it’s likely we’ll see restaurants and other establishments keep using protection like Plexiglass barriers and spaced tables. The increased popularity of outdoor dining will likely continue, especially with the CDC announcement in April 2021 that the risk from outdoor dining is low.
When it comes to going to school in a post-COVID world, “The pandemic has shown us how online teaching can be a tool that makes the classroom more accessible, particularly for students with disabilities,” said Anna Mueller, a sociologist at Indiana University Bloomington.
Mario Luis Small, Harvard University sociologist, told Science News that the pandemic has shown that “a lot, though by no means all, of higher education can happen online.” That could upend the traditional collegiate experience as we’ve known it.
“Parents and students will likely ask how much of the on-campus experience is truly needed and demand alternatives,” he said.
COVID has Changed Shopping Forever
“Life After COVID,” a research project by media company TEGNA, noted the pandemic has changed the way 90% of people shop. Many of the changes, especially with grocery shopping, may be permanent.
As part of the TEGNA project, University of Houston Professor Dr. Barbara Stewart told KHOU Houston journalist Janelle Bludau that touch-free systems are likely here to stay.
The focus will be on “things that are non-invasive, that are safe and secure,” she said. She believes the pandemic propelled grocery shopping forward 5-10 years in just a few months, with “an explosion of online and a great growth of curbside delivery.”
The convenience of delivery and curbside services will continue to appeal to shoppers, even once the health risk is minimal.
Home Sweet Home. And Work. And Gym.
As more companies started allowing remote work during the pandemic, workers began a major shift. They moved from living in urban areas to less dense parts of the country.
The TEGNA project noted that employment firm Upwork’s research showed 14 to 23 million Americans plan to move because they now work from home.
The United Van Lines Annual National Movers Study for 2020 pinpointed Idaho as the state with the highest percentage of “inbound migration” (70%). New Jersey was the most-left state (70% outbound).
The TEGNA reports spotlighted another home-related trend likely to stick around: home improvement projects.
CNBC tracked a 140% increase in consumer interest in home projects during the pandemic, spurred by people spending more time at home. With home projects, one thing leads to another, so this momentum is likely to continue.
The pandemic had one surprising health-related positive. There was an explosion in home fitness, as the public avoided gyms and studios. Demand was so high, manufacturers reported shortages of fitness equipment like kettlebells. With so much money invested in home equipment, fewer people may decide to return to their gyms.
Control What You Can
There are no easy answers to life after COVID and (sadly) no actual crystal ball. Despite experts’ best predictions, no one is sure exactly what will go back to “normal” or what changes will stick around permanently. Speculation abounds. So does fear.
In the face of so many uncontrollables, it’s smart to support your own health as much as possible. Boosting your immune system protects your body against threats, whether from COVID-19 or the common cold.
Even if you get vaccinations for COVID-19 and other illnesses, a strong natural defense system helps protect you from the germs your body encounters on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, there has been surprisingly little advice from the medical community during the pandemic on the importance of supporting your immune system.
Supplements to Boost the Immune System
In a perfect world, the foods we eat would supply all the essential nutrients for immune system health. But most of us eat less-than-perfect diets, so supplements can help fill the gaps.
While there’s no “magic bullet” pill for perfect immunity, studies show that certain nutrients help strengthen immune response to keep us healthy. Frequent go-to vitamins for immune system health are vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, garlic and more.
Supplement quality affects bioavailability and effectiveness, so make sure you buy from a trusted source.
In addition to nutrition, sleeping enough, staying hydrated and being physically active are all critical for good health. For a closer look at specific ways to support your immune system, check out our post.
Is This the Last Pandemic We’ll Face?
No one can be sure.
“There is no reason to assume that a post-COVID world will be a post-pandemic world,” medical anthropologist Katherine Hirschfield told Science News.
Instead of feeling fear, use this as motivation to get your immune system in top shape. That way, you have a line of defense to help fight off any illness that comes your way.
The Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19
While we take action to support our physical well-being, we must recognize the mental health aspects of the pandemic. Unemployment, social isolation and trauma have all contributed to a well-documented decline in overall mental health in the United States.
A Kaiser Family Foundation report from February 2021 notes that 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, up from 1 in 10 before the pandemic.
Physically and mentally, it’s helpful to recognize that the pandemic has affected each person differently, and each of us will emerge from it in a unique way.
An American Psychological Association special report on COVID-19 explores how the pandemic may spur growth in individuals.
“We might be making more time for things we find meaningful, simplifying our lives and making time for being connected in our relationships,” Erika Felix, PhD, a psychologist and trauma survivor specialist at the University of California, said in the APA’s report. Felix said major stressors like this pandemic can make people think, “What does this slowdown mean for our lives? We might be fundamentally changed in some ways that are beneficial.”
The best gift we can give ourselves in uncertain times is to support our health and wellbeing as much as we possibly can.
To sum it up
- Shopping, dining out, fitness and education are likely to have lasting changes post-COVID.
- COVID-19 has resulted in significant mental health impacts.
- Even after the pandemic, it’s important to keep your immune system in top condition. And, of course, keep washing your hands!
Need More Help?
Natural supplements and homeopathic remedies can support your immune system and make it easier to keep yourself healthy. We love Immune Defense 14 Mushroom Blend, Immunity Plus, KiddieBoost for Children’s Immune Support.
How to Boost Your Immune System https://nativeremedies.blog/2021/01/12/how-to-boost-your-immune-system/
ZZZZ…Why You Need a Good Night’s Sleep https://nativeremedies.blog/2020/10/01/zzzzwhy-you-need-a-good-nights-sleep/
Stress Management: Natural Ways to Cope with Stress https://nativeremedies.blog/2017/02/23/stress-management-natural-ways-to-cope-with-stress/
- Bower, Bruce. “What will life be like after the coronavirus pandemic ends? Experts predict the social consequences of COVID-19.” Science News. Accessed April 23, 2021. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/covid-19-coronavirus-life-after-pandemic-ends-predictions
- “What will life be like once the COVID-19 pandemic ends?” TEGNA. Accessed April 29, 2021. https://www.9news.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/life-after-covid/73-e6ef0583-56f9-4919-9279-e66359b05b80
- “Annual 2020 United Van Lines National Movers Study.” United Van Lines. Accessed April 29, 2021. https://www.unitedvanlines.com/newsroom/movers-study-2020
- Singolda, Adam. “Analysis of 8 billion page views shows where the next hot start-up can thrive.” CNBC. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/12/here-are-the-new-businesses-to-start-during-the-coronavirus-recession.html?&qsearchterm=Adam%20Singolda
- Weir, Kristen. “Life after COVID-19: Making Space for Growth.” American Psychological Association. Accessed April 29, 2021. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/06/covid-life-after
- “Overview of the Immune System.” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Accessed January 6, 2021. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/research/immune-system-overview
- “How to Boost Your Immune System.” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. Accessed January 6, 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system
- “Choosing Safer Activities.” Centers for Disease Control. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/participate-in-activities.html
- “Coping with Stress.” Centers for Disease Control. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html
- Panchal, Kamal, Cox, Garfield. “The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use.” Kaiser Family Foundation. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/