Some say the ‘new normal' must not be the lens through which we examine our changed world. Others say, the ‘new normal’ is going to institute a strict regime of monitoring our movements post-pandemic era. While some still think the restriction to wear facemask, not to shake hands is overbearing others feel the limit on the number of people to attend funerals, religious services, weddings and other social gathering is an affront to our culture. 

Although many have expressed sentiments on how people will soon grow tired of washing their hands umpteen times a day, and anticipate life returning to the old normal, pre-pandemic time, the discussion on the ordering of social engagements of people post-pandemic still requires further attention.

The New Normal

The phrase ‘new normal’ with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic refers to human behavioural changes after this pandemic. Doctors at the University of Kansas Health System and many across the world anticipate that the coronavirus pandemic will change daily life for most people, by limiting person-to-person contact. These limits comprise protocols on handshakes, maintenance of physical distance from others and regular washing of hands with soap under running water.

For many social commentators, the semantic of the 'new normal' being deployed to manage the anxiety occasioned by the coronavirus, is somewhat an attempt to douse the fears of people. Since everyone is affected in this era, with efforts still underway to find a cure for the disease, the rhetoric of the new normal comes in handy to prepare the minds of the public to cope with the new changes. It is invariably an admission that things will never be the same as they were before.

The framing according to experts is inviting, in that it helps to shape and reinforce our understanding of the world and our society on the ways in which we can cope with the new reality.

Coping strategies

Undeniably, we all did not bargain for these changes in the last six months. The communal nature of the Ghanaian and for that matter many African societies has been affected. In reality, it will take some time for our people who are tactile in their expressions at church services, funerals ceremonies, and other social gatherings to fully adjust in this new normal.

These restrictions which are practically alien to our culture and could be discomforting to a people who were hitherto living in the old normal are new ways we must nonetheless endeavour to adapt to in order to stay safe and navigate through these changing times. Appreciating the new measures in this new normal could go a long way to help us curb the spread of the virus and preserve public health and our safety as a people. It is a fact that human beings have different thresholds of endurance. However, after realising the gap between the rich and poor and the many begging developmental needs in our society, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) appreciates the challenges of the public in adjusting to these measures. Nevertheless, since our physiological and psychological well-being is critical, Ghanaians certainly have to embrace the reality of the risk of COVID-19 and endeavour to cope and manage by observing the safety protocols.

To navigate through the pandemic and manage the stigma, we have to show empathy towards those who tested positive and are recovering from the virus.  Likewise, the encouragement we give to support those being stigmatised, should galvanise our resolve to adhere to the COVID-19 safety protocols.

Healthy lifestyle

Notwithstanding our commitment to practice proper hand and respiratory hygiene as well as maintaining the physical distance rule in public spaces in this new normal, to protect ourselves from COVID-19, we certainly need to observe healthy lifestyles such as eating well-balanced diets. A regular eating habit of whole plant food including fruits, vegetables, nuts seeds, and legumes which are rich in nutrients, antioxidants, fibre, and vitamin C, according to health experts could boost one’s immunity to fight against harmful pathogens.

Similarly, a good amount of sleep is also required to help strengthen our immunity in this new normal. Getting adequate rest and sleep time (7hours or more for adults, 8-10 hours for teens and up to 14 hours for infants) every night is recommended as a natural immunity booster.

Another healthy lifestyle practice required of us in this new normal is for us to engage in moderate exercises including jogging, biking, hiking, walking, swimming and aerobics, which are known to promote healthy turnovers of immune cells and reduce inflammation.

Beyond exercising, staying hydrated, reducing our sugar and alcohol intake, eating a balanced diet, working out, having adequate sleep, and managing our stress levels could help reinforces your bodies defense against harmful pathogens. We must be intentional and deliberate about helping ourselves live in this new normal.

Social Support

There is no doubt our lives have been affected in this while.  However, we can survive this pandemic through effective social support systems. While urging Ghanaians severely affected to seek psychosocial support from clinical psychologists in the country, we also can connect more with friends through regular phone calls to show solidarity to persons who have tested positive for COVID-19, and those recovering, as well as their families.

Since social support enhances the quality of life of individuals and provides a buffer against adverse life events, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) urges Ghanaians to encourage each other, especially persons who have recovered or are recovering from the COVID-19, the frontline workers and everyone so that we can win this fight. And the least we can do in this new normal is not to stigmatise against them. 

As enjoined by Article 41(g) of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, “to contribute to the well-being of the community where that citizen” we are obliged to not do things that defeat our national resolve to combat the spread of the disease in the community where you live.

It therefore behoves every Ghanaian as part of our civic responsibility to embrace the reality of this new normal with a positive mind-set.

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