By Maj Gen CP Singh (Retd)
In the year 2020, COVID ripped across the world resulting in death, illness, burnout, isolation, and economic turmoil. As if, one onslaught was not enough, it came back with a volley of new variant in 2021. The world said – “Jaan hai to Jahan hai.” Sudden lockdowns were announced and whole world came to a standstill. We pended everything in the name of Covid and thus, laziness became a habit. “A body continues to stay in a position of rest until an external force is applied.”- Newton’s First Law. The law of Inertia is very much applicable in post Covid times. The post covid laziness is as addictive as smoking, alcohol or drugs. When people are made to work after six months of sabbatical or so called ‘Work from Home’, it’s a tough call and bound to have withdrawal symptoms.
COVID has not only changed our live, also our living pattern and ripped the social fabric apart. Life is limping back to normalcy after COVID 2.0 and amidst fears of COVID 3.0. It has added certain new dimensions, which are going to be the ‘new normal’ for years to come. Masks, social distancing, sanitizers, no personal touch, limited celebrations/ mourning including digital modes of meeting / working will be ‘new normal’ way of life in this decade of 2021-30.
All work was pended till the covid goes. Everyone said let’s deal with this once in lifetime problem and do the routine work later. The uncertainty of life leads to fears and hence the lack of desire to work with full gusto and sincerity. When you find people around you falling like nine pins, it’s very difficult to work for a bright future. The gloom leads to pending everything as life itself is so uncertain. Languishing became the norm. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work. Procrastination soon became a habit since we all want to follow a path of least resistance. Delay of one day soon snowballs into a week or month of backlogged tasks, before you find yourself in a frantic state just before the unlock is announced and hope like hell that the lockdown induced laziness gets prolonged.
Blurring Work-Life Balance
Initially, when the lockdown happened, everyone was very euphoric about the ‘Work from Home’ concept. It gave the working class, a sense of freedom from dressing up, freedom from pollution and traffic jams while travelling to office and freedom from strict office timings. They thought work from home will be ‘No Work’ or ‘Work at Will’. Soon everyone realized that they are neither here nor there. The work life balance got blurred out. The management expects you to be available online 24×7. At the same time, family life is also ruined as the wife feels that you are at home and yet not available to her for sharing the household responsibilities. Sandwiched between the two enhanced expectations from Boss and Biwi, which were now overlapping, the poor middle class employee got sorted out. The blurred work life balance resulted in poor motivation, decreased efficiency, frustration and psycho-social disorders. Because of the abnormal routine and resultant stress, all people were doing was languishing whole day, in pyjamas, doing nothing constructive, watching irrelevant programs on TV or wasting time on mob phone and yet feeling bored.
Students without School
The students never had it so good. No schools for the last two sessions and then 99% of them passed scoring above 90% without exams. That’s not like a dream come true but beyond imagination. The online classes are another sham in which students, teacher and school – all are happy. Management gets the fee without expenditure of opening the schools, teachers have to take only one or two online sessions along with household work, and student has to just log in to get attendance and need not even listen to the class, leave aside learning. It’s so convenient and win – win situation for all. This lethargy which has set in the system will be very difficult to overcome once schools open. Students will find difficult to get up early, get ready to leave by 06:30 AM every day, attend school whole day, do the home work and study hard to pass exams with such high expectations. The laziness has crept into the system and certainly becoming addictive. It will take considerable time and effort to get over it.
Social Distancing By Choice
The world had already started social distancing and becoming more and more self-oriented. They found Covid as a God sent excuse for their anti-social behaviour. People have selectively used social distancing as it suites them. More and more urbanites have started moving away from the basic societal norms of obligatory attendance at funerals, cremations, weddings and other social gatherings. During Covid, celebrities departed from this world like orphans and many died in ignominy. Just a condolences call or even a condolence or congratulatory message is accepted as the new normal. The basic fabric which weaves the humans as social beings and holds them together has been ripped in covid times. Let’s hope and pray that this exceptional behavior is not adopted as ‘new normal’, as a matter of convenience.
Handshake and jaadu ki jhappi (warm hugs) were considered a close and vibrant way of greetings. In covid times, these societal norms of greetings have changed over to greetings from a distance with no body touch, indicating safety and caution. This has also started showing in our behavior as humans are becoming more risk averse, safe and self-cautious. However, the positive take-away is the acceptance of Indian “Namaste” as global way of greetings.
During the Covid lockdowns, most of the people were languishing around without a fixed routine. They were just getting bored, frustrated and addictive to laziness. It’s tempting to stay in bed, most of the day when there is little to do and yet not get proper sleep. Wasting time in absence of a routine is stressful and laziness creeps in soon, discouraging us to not even do the essentials.
Everybody spoke about maintaining a good healthy regime during the lockdown. The need was well felt but the laziness that was set in soon became an addiction. We found excuses like gym is closed, swimming pool is not open, can’t move out of house and cycling trips are banned, very common with no letup in gorging the junk food. The lockdown resulted in addition of a few kg to everyone’s weight and few inches to the waistline. “The less I do, the less I want to do.” The laziness tightened the grip over idle mind, as any other addiction.
In the Covid related forced lockdowns, phone, social media and browsing the internet have been major time consumers, pulling down everybody into hours of idleness. Continually checking the news made public scared, feel anxious and living in a state of panic. The laziness induced slowdown and procrastination with increased screen time had adverse effect on family bonding and health.
Dressing up has taken the biggest hit in the Covid era. While everybody is confined to home in lockdown, the only dress being used is pyjamas or T-shirt and bermudaaz. Pyjamas signal to your brain that it is time to wind down, while formal clothing reminds you that it’s time to start the day. The formal dressing has taken a long leave. The formal shoes have all gone bad. Even the wedding lehangas and haute-couture have been neatly packed and locked into boxes. The bundgalas and sherwanis are equally confined to life sentence, with suspension of all official and social events. I am certain that when normalcy is restored post covid, people will not fit into their old clothes. Most of us will also require a new wardrobe and refresher course in formal dressing.
Blame It on Covid
A large number of Government officials and those deputed to deal with public grievances started shirking their responsibilities in the name of Covid. Entry into all Government offices is strictly restricted. There are so many false barriers created in the name of Covid, that aggrieved person gives up even before he could meet the concerned official. The routine business of governance became the biggest casualty as the files kept on piling and crying for attendance while officials (not) worked from home. The senior functionaries in all Depts. shunned meeting people and resolve their grievances. In the hospitals also, patients with all other ailments were relegated in priority to Covid patients and many of them succumbed to such neglect, but who cares. Covid was found to be the new punching bag to be blamed for all delays, ills, faults and incompetencies.
Covid has brought unprecedented difficult times, no doubt. However, the forced lockdown and idleness has also taken its toll on our efficiency and desire to work hard. It has brought in sluggishness in work, boredom, procrastination and habit of languishing, all in the name of COVID. Those who got addicted to laziness are praying for third wave and lockdowns once again with many more repeats after that. These are trying times, but idleness only drags the time out and leaves you feeling depressed and uninterested. Let’s not get addicted to laziness, trying to beat Covid. It will take a great amount of concerted effort to shed the sluggishness and resume life with full gusto and energy, leaving COVID behind.
-The writer is a veteran of Indian Army. Views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Raksha Anirveda. He can be contacted at www.majgencpsingh.com