Updated: Apr 6, 2020
Day fourteen of the national lockdown, one week to go before the government’s measures are reconsidered and it doesn’t look like there is any sign of the strict measures being lifted anytime soon. This drastic change to the lives of UK residents will inevitably have an effect on behaviour after the pandemic, but to what extent?
One would hope that the most drastic changes will be to people’s long-term mindset. The all too common practice of blowing your wages on payday weekend will no doubt be a regret of the tens of thousands of people waiting for government assistance after being laid off from their “non-critical” jobs. One in three brits has less than £1500 in savings (less than the average monthly wage) and 15% of UK adults have no cash savings at all; all of these people would face serious issues from as little as one month of disrupted cash flow.
The sudden loss of freedom has people missing the things that they once took for granted; going for drinks, eating out or even just picking up groceries. These deprivations will result in pubs, restaurants and shops being flooded with consumers upon reopening, many of which will be acting with little consideration for the future. After this excitement has subsided, however, I predict that there will be an unlikely shift in behaviour; the many weeks of living without the high street shops, restaurants and pubs will have allowed people to realise that it is possible to survive, and perhaps thrive, without visiting these places as often as they did pre-pandemic. The midweek binges, the unnecessary restaurant trips and the weekend shopping sprees will all seem less important. People will be content with staying at home and drinking a bottle of supermarket wine, cooking with their families and who knows, maybe even living within their means and re-wearing the clothes that were only bought the previous month.
In the two weeks of isolation so far, the appreciation of smaller things has become one of the main sources of happiness in the lives of many; conversations with the people you live with, taking time for yourself in the evenings or that one solitary walk at lunchtime. All too often we find ourselves looking for the next source of instant gratification, whether it’s our after-work plans, the people we’re seeing at the weekend or what we’ll be doing to let loose after a tough week in the office. This quick fix, short term mindset leaves us rarely taking the time to stop and think about what we really want. Do we want to take more time for ourselves, do we want to finish that book on our bedside table that once had us captivated or do we just want to call that person we haven’t kept up with as much as we should? With many of the go to quick fixes no longer possible, people will be rediscovering passions and even forming new ones within the limitations we all face. These small reductions in consumption and increased self-awareness will certainly leave people happier, more fulfilled, and most importantly, better prepared for the inevitable future pandemics. As an additional benefit, the less people leaning on our government for future financial assistance, the more resources will be available for our government to focus elsewhere in times of national crisis.
I hope that after this all fades away into the past, people will be more conscious of their responsibilities to themselves and others and our national image will again reflect what great people we are.