As the months progress, many are now immunized and are looking forward to getting back to a normal life, again. “Normalcy” has taken on a new meaning this past year, and rediscovering what it looks like moving forward is becoming another source of heightened anxiety for many. The unknowns of 2020 have transcended into unfamiliar territory in 2021 as companies are mobilizing employees to return to the workplace.
On one side of the seesaw is the safety of working from home, while the other side teeters from the stress of things to come—new rules and worksite etiquette, post Covid. Companies are evaluating bottom lines; the productivity and efficiency costs of their workers staying home versus at the office. One of my patients wanted to go back to to the office but her employer opted for all to stay at home. She knew she needed the social structure of an in-person work environment; last I heard, she was quitting her job. A year of isolation was long enough for her.
Another patient of mine is a flight attendant. She just got the word that she is going back to work in a week after a year hiatus. As a mom of two young boys, she now has another layer of anxiety added to the daily stack. Her stay-at-home routine that was ultimately fine-tuned in 2020 was now getting hacked. I reminded her that she and her husband pulled it off for years, pre-pandemic but I understood that her job didn’t have the physical advantage of that 6-foot distance barrier allotted to others.
I feel fortunate that I have continued to go to my office and to meet with patients virtually for the past year. I was stimulated with daily conversations and never felt isolated or repressed. I was happy to help others get through some tough times. A lot has been said about the Covid Fifteen (pounds!) but I am here to say I have witnessed so many patients successfully lose weight this past year. Working from home gave many the opportunity to plan more and to eat healthier meals. Commuting up or down a flight of stairs to their home office versus congested Boston traffic allowed some an extra two hours a day for cooking and exercising.
Communicating with health care providers through Telehealth has kept people accountable and has afforded them healthcare delivery from the comfort of their homes, and I am hoping that it continues long after the Covid restrictions have been lifted. But, as much as I want to see normalcy return, I do worry. My biggest concern is the healthier lifestyle momentum that was gained by many in 2020 will be slowly lost. I encourage you all to not forget your accomplishments and to recognize your strengths to continue on a healthy path.
And as we all stand before a new crossing, I reflect on the wisdom bestowed on Indiana Jones by the Grail Knight. “Choose wisely.”