Eight ways I hope the world changes after Coronavirus
Posted 10-05-2021 | Updated
This blog looks to the future and new opportunities. The past year or so has been an incredibly tough one for most of us. Being trapped inside with limited social contact, hearing more and more bad news about the infection rates and lockdown restrictions is not the way anyone wants to spend over 365 days of their life. There have been a few false dawns where it looked as though we had things under control, only to have those hopes dashed, but now we do seem to be approaching the end of the pandemic in this country.
The pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns highlighted many issues with our society and the way we do things. I hope we have learnt some lessons from this, and consequently are able to bring about some positive changes in the world. (I am not negating the many negative things that have happened, so please don’t think I am being insensitive, I am not, I had a family death from Covid-19, so I know all too well the pain of the last year).
I am a glass always ½ full kind of guy, so will always look to take the positives out of life and any situation. I feel that now it’s time to look forwards. To adapt long term to what needs to change. Many aspects of modern life will change permanently after the covid-19 pandemic. These are the 8 ways I would like to see the world change for the better, and of course, this is purely my opinion and experience as a coach, business owner, father, and passionate advocate of positive change…
Trust in Data and Science
Science, numbers, and data. For many, these are boring, uninteresting topics. We see them as big, slow, complex wheels that we don’t fully understand. They’re for clever people in universities and laboratories to worry about, and once they’ve worked it all out, they come and explain it all without us having to actually think about it.
But science is everything
This has been exemplified during lockdown. We’ve been bombarded with various different graphs and statistics talking about R-rates and infection patterns. A lot of people have struggled to make sense of it all, and it’s become much clearer how statistics and data govern our lives. I hope people grow to understand this better and learn to apply similar methods to their own lives.
Without science or data, we are often just guessing or acting on a hunch or emotion. There are some aspects of life when we can, and should, act on emotion or gut feel, but we must have the ability to tell when this is appropriate. This is a significant point for me as I work in the health and fitness industry which is fraught with half-truths, assumptions, and faulty facts, so I deal with misinformation and entrenched beliefs every day. In fact, I would say that 80% of the time I spend coaching is unwiring inaccurate beliefs. I really hope people start to use genuine facts and figures to support their beliefs and govern their actions more frequently.
Use Data Where It's Available.
if you want to lose weight, understand the science and use it to lose weight by eating fewer calories. Don’t blindly go on a fasting or keto diet because you heard that’s how someone else lost weight and there is some secret to this diet. Think critically and be methodical. Eating fewer calories than your body burns is the scientific basis for weight loss, all diets ultimately hinge on this fact. Keto, fasting, whatever is it, they create a calorie deficit, that’s how the diet works.
This is called evidence-based practice, and its important. We must assess the existing data, draw on the available expertise of credible people, then act in our own environment to apply it. This was ultimately how the UK government navigated us out of the pandemic, by relying on the data and what it was showing us, using facts rather than assumptions to find the best path forward. This is a lesson that we can all apply to our own lives.
However, the pandemic has also highlighted how much misinformation there is out there and how easily misinformation can spread. I hope people become more resistant to misinformation and more willing to change their minds when faced with reliable scientific data, instead of getting defensive when presented with evidence that challenges their views. A better understanding of data and science will allow people to do this.
Distinguishing between fact and opinion is also a skill more people need to learn. All around us there are blogs, videos and reports posed as fact, but they are often just opinion. Opinion is great, but it must be stated as that, and when countered with data or science it must be refuted. You really shouldn’t get annoyed for having an opinion quashed by facts. Ultimately, facts don’t care about opinions, because facts are facts. They don’t have emotions.
I hope changing our opinion in the face of new evidence becomes more normalised. Having an entrenched, unchanging opinion is, in most cases, unhealthy, and people should be much more receptive to new information if it is backed up by good science and data. When looking at science we must also always look to the body of science. There is always one study that can support an idea or opinion, but if that is not supported by the 11 other studies that exist then it shouldn’t be the basis for your beliefs. There are often outliers, anomalies, or just poorly executed studies, so always look to the largest body of evidence as that is likely where the truth lies. Avoiding this confirmation bias will help you to have a more grounded world view and be less vulnerable to misinformation.
If you would like to become a more critical thinker, and would like to learn how to navigate things like news articles that make claims based on research, this video is 25 minutes long and of our Head of Education at The BTN Academy debunking the data in an energy drink news article from Sky TV. Watching this would give you an insight into how to navigate claims online, and quoted science. You can watch that HERE.
Reduce Food Waste
During covid-19 many of us experienced queuing to get into a supermarket, having to book 3 weeks in advance to get a home delivery slot for food or having to ask our neighbour for some toilet-roll because loads of people went out and panic bought it all.
I really hope this made us more mindful of the food we eat and the products we consume. We have the gift of choice these days with supermarkets, and we are lucky to have such an abundance of everything and anything. But with abundance comes complacency. It’s like money, the more you have the more likely you are to become relaxed with it, waste more, and be frivolous. This is fine, to an extent, after all its your money and you earnt it.
But when it comes to food its different. Even in this country the pandemic has shown we have people going hungry and struggling to make ends meet, so it’s a real shame for other people to be taking their situations for granted by throwing away food. Additionally, we are facing enormous climate change and food waste is a massive contributing factor.
Plus, why should we waste anything? Use that chicken carcass to make stock, use that onion that looks like it’s about to turn in a soup, and use that soft fruit in a smoothie. Try plan for your weekly shop so you don’t buy stuff you end up throwing out in 2 weeks time. These are habits I hope people have started to learn with the minor shortages some supermarkets experienced in lockdown.
Added to this, privileged overconsumption / over purchasing is a pet hate of mine. I’m the kind of guy that does scowl (sorry) at the big family that gets a massive plate of bread at the buffet and just puts it on the table for all to eat just in case someone might want some extra bread – having it there because they can, because they paid for it, or simply because its on offer. Taking something or eating something for the sake of it like that is almost as much of a waste as throwing it out. If you’re not hungry, or don’t need it, don’t force yourself to eat or take something just because it’s there, because you can, leave it for people who actually want it, or need it. Furthermore, overeating like that can only lead to putting on excess weight that people will then want to get rid of it again.
I feel we’ve got too used to living with abundance and choice. For many in the modern world we have the ability to buy whatever we want when it comes to food. In fact, we can and do buy too much food, the data is there to support that as we are still a country with an expanding waistline. We live in a throw away culture, a culture that encourages overconsumption, purely because we can afford it. But this must change if people want the other goals they say they do, health, vitality, and a normal weight.
With an obesity epidemic, a food waste epidemic, an ever-growing problem with land fill and waste disposal, we must be more mindful about what we use, what we have, and what we eat, because these factors are all interconnected and could start to solve one another. Hopefully having to queue for 1 hour for some bread and milk has made us value the luxury of what we have and made people a bit more introspective about their consumption habits.
Appreciate Friends, Family, and Social Gatherings
Without them for so long, how will we feel about simply going around our mums for coffee, or meeting some friends for dinner and drinks? I for one really missed a simple trip to the pub, and a 30 minute break in a coffee shop.
Anytime something becomes the norm we risk taking it for granted. For me, the simple act of meeting family for a roast dinner on a Sunday is something I did regularly before lockdown and not being able to do it was a real shock. I have looked forward hugely to being able to do this again and being deprived of Sunday roasts with my family really highlighted to me how much they actually meant to me.
I can imagine many of us thought during the covid-19 outbreak that we could risk not seeing family again if they got covid, especially our elderly family members. I for one am already valuing that time we get with loved ones, and am treasuring it, after all many people have been left without that luxury due to covid-19.
I would really love to see people putting much more value on their interactions with people and making time for each other a lot more. A lot of people have also been isolated or alone for extended periods, and while it’s been good to have a break form the hustle and bustle of life to a certain extent, I hope people are willing to make the most of life now things begin to reopen again. Before lockdown, it was almost taken as a given that on Friday or Saturday we’d all go out with our friends for a drink or a meal, so after being deprived of that for so long it’d be nice if people took a moment to truly appreciate the freedom of being able to do such things again, and see those simple things as actually quite special.
I also hope that people continue to reach out to friends and family they think might be struggling, as the pandemic has highlighted how important a strong support network is to good mental health. Friends and family are so valuable, and the pandemic has shown that unfortunately nobody is going to be around forever, so we should spend as much time with our loved ones as we possibly can while we’re all blessed with good health. I for one have needed the connection for my mental health, as becoming a new parent, and being in lockdown did become quite tough, and family support, even through zoom, was invaluable.
Adjust Our Pace Of Life
Because of lockdown we all instantly had to slow down, most of us were working from home, didn’t have to commute to work or a school or the gym or have as many things in our diary, so naturally we slowed down and had more time for stuff. I’m not sure about you but I did enjoy it for a good while, but then missed the buzz of life I had before that. But I haven’t wished for it to return to normal, I’ve found a happy middle ground, and I’m hoping many others have.
I say this because as a coach I am often presented with the excuse of having no time, burn out being super common, and stress being high. And part of this is due to some people’s pace of life, and mere amount of ‘things’ to do in a day. Part of this is work, part of this is our connected life through technology, and part is a learned behaviour.
I remember when I was building my business in the early years, working 12-14 hours a day to bring the bread in to balance my personal cash flow, but then extra time to build and grow and create systems and brand assets. It’s a tough battle, business is tough and it’s not for everyone, but I got into the habit of working extremely hard. But once you are over that momentum ledge (of course this relates to your goals and ambitions for your life and business) you don’t have to work as hard, and you should be working smarter. So what you used to do in 14 hours should now take you 10, or far less hopefully. The issue is that it is then a learnt behaviour, and you have to spend time recognising the burn out cycles we go through, or the repeated colds we are getting because we keep working our body and brains into the ground.
Everyone is of course at different stages of their life, I would not say this to the 23 old me, I would say “Do it all, work hard, create the future”, but I’m saying this to my 34 year old self, I’m saying “slow down, focus on what matters, build a team, set priorities, and enjoy all aspects of life”. I’m finding a new balance and have been for some time, especially with my first born, and I’m hoping through this experience of being at home for so long with coronavirus that others have reflected on what they want their new balance to be. There are already conversations taking place about how the modern office and work culture will change post covid and I think these changes should be embraced whole heartedly. I have run a remote company since 2008, so its something I really value, having that flexibility and freedom of working from home, as do all my team.
For some it should be a case of push hard, create more, build the future, but for others it should be slow down, smell the roses, and get the balance right that you keep promising for yourself.
The UK government during Covid-19 encouraged us all to exercise, it was one of their key headline points, and was one of the things we were actually allowed to do. During this time, we saw a massive spike in online workouts, home gym equipment and people engaging in healthy lifestyle habits at home. Almost ¾ of Brits took up a new physical activity for at least a couple of hours a week and 80% of those said they wanted to continue this habit after lockdown is lifted.
But will this really last? Will people carry this through? Will they see the value in these new habits they have created, such as going for a walk with the family on a weekend, or even for a 15 minute stroll on a weeknight before the family dinner?
Walking was a simple activity many of us did while in lock down, and I personally find it’s an amazing time to talk, connect and be present with nature. I hope others carry this habit forward of getting outside for a walk, and engaging with some regular physical activity. Even a 30 minute walk every day can drastically improve your physical and mental wellbeing. It’s an opportunity to get some peace and quiet, to move your body around after sitting down all day, to get some fresh air and work off any stress you’ve experienced during the day. We all know the benefits, but before lockdown not everyone chose to have a routine that allows for it. I hope after this lockdown people appreciate how important it is to get out and get some fresh air when they can and adjust their routines to make time for doing so.
And seeing as news reports are now highlighting that a high % of people that died from covid-19 had pre-existing conditions such as being overweight, asthma, diabetes etc, exercise can be super important in our preventative healthcare future, not just for everyday health, but for reducing the chances of a disease we get being not being fatal.
Along the same lines as fitness, there is health. I saw a huge spike in engagement around health during the pandemic. People wanted to know how to ‘boost’ their immune system, and suddenly people were interested in conversations around how the human body worked and how germs spread.
But this was forced upon us, and sadly many people only ever engage with their health when they are forced too, when things are bad, or when confronted with an immediate health risk. I have family members that have only ever changed when faced with a dramatic health scare, and even then, it’s often only a small change, just enough to turn the tide with the issue at hand.
This is an unfortunate part of being a human being. We are hugely adaptable creatures; we can handle all sorts of stress without many immediate consequences. Our health, our energy, are fitness slowly slip away from us, but because the loss is so minimal and gradual we don’t notice it until months or years later when we reach some form of breaking point.
We know from the news reports and the statistics on Covid-19 that the people who were healthier and stronger had more minor symptoms of coronavirus (on average) and were far less likely to be hospitalised or die. The same can be said for most infections and viruses, the stronger and healthier we are the less of an effect they tend to have.
But now covid-19 seems to be being brought under control, will people embrace this? Will they value their health more? Will they see the benefit in regular exercise, eating well, and staying hydrated?
I hope so. As a nutritionist I am hugely passionate about health, and as a formerly obese and unhealthy man I know full well how it feels not to take good enough care of yourself. I understand how challenging it is to take those first steps, but I also know how much better you feel for it and how rewarding it is to see the progress. It’s why I now choose to eat well every day, I really do value my health after spending years without it, and I hope more people will do now too.
If you’d like to invest more time in looking at your life, your health, and how awesome you feel, here is an hours webinar I did for employees at HSBC during the pandemic called ‘How to be Awesome’, which looked at the 6 core pillars of health and how to go about changing them, could be time well invested if you want to take more control of your health:
Understand Financial Savings
During the early stages of Covid-19 I made a social media post suggesting that I wasn’t worried about what was coming. It was an insensitive post to the many that were worried because their situation was less than favourable and they didn’t have what I had, a countryside hideaway where I could pleasantly self-isolate. I apologised for this shortly afterwards as I didn’t fully register with the rest of the world and the kind of situations that other people may be in.
One of my reasons for not being worried was my financial situation. During my twenties I was pretty risky with life in general, I took chances, spent money, built things, and generally put every penny I ever had to travelling, building things, and generally progressing myself and enjoying life. This changed in 2017 when I spent the whole year fighting bankruptcy. It was the worst year of my life to date and was a result of my loose attitude towards money and (some) poor decision making. My business and life were very different then and I hadn’t adjusted my mindset and approach to things to suit them. Thus, things went south, and it took me a long time to build myself and the business back up again.
These difficulties taught me the value of cash in the bank, a buffer for a rainy day for when times are tough. My mum had always said “whatever you do save 10% from everything you earn”. As a result, however little mum earnt when I was young, she always had money, she always had safety, and it was because of this. After some financial coaching from a friend, I then started to save a lot more. I had always had the mindset “I didn’t have enough to save, saving is boring, let’s spend it having fun”. Well after fighting bankruptcy every day for a year, that wisdom sunk in, and I saw the value in having security for my future.
So I started saving and changed my spending habits. The reality is most people can save 10% every month, whether you earn £200 a week or £2000 a week, 10% is 10%, and as soon as I took that 10% away, I adjusted my spending. That money now wasn’t there for me to spend, so I just adjusted my way of living. I believe other people will adjust similarly, once you take that 10% away you adjust your spending slightly, and after a while you don’t even notice you’re doing it anymore.
This habit really showed its worth when covid-19 struck. I had 3 months of cash flow in my business to pay everyone’s wages and outgoings, and 3 months savings on a personal level, so if no cash at all came in over a 3-month period, we would be ok as a worse case scenario. And that gave me comfort, it meant I didn’t have to worry, I could just find solutions by having that breathing space. I could look to the future and pivot my business and life where needed because of that buffer. I only had this due to past failings, 2017 and some good advice, and I had built up that buffer to weather any future storm. I luckily didn’t have to dip into that as quick thinking and quick pivots saw us be ok as a business, but the comfort and stability was there.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit and the UK went into its stay-at-home status, I was scanning social media and aware of how many people live hand to mouth every week or month. Now for some this is the reality, and I am aware that still having money to spare after the rent and bills have been paid is something of a privilege, but for others I feel it could be different.
Are people being sensible with their spending, do they have security, can they afford to be eating out 3 nights a week or do they need to buy those expensive shoes? If something did happen they might not be able to weather the storm as a result of these choices.
The reality is that although saving money is boring and it’s way more fun to spend it, delaying your gratification and ensuring you are financially secure is more important. Now I am a bit older and have more financial responsibilities I value it far more. Knowing there is cash in a hideaway account for a rainy day should we need it brings a lot of comfort and security, even more so to be risky with other money I have, should I choose to.
I hope others might think a little differently about money moving forward so that they can have a little more security the next time unforeseen problems spring up. My 3-month buffer is money I do not touch, only under extreme circumstances do we use it, otherwise it just sits in an account and is always there, ready to help weather a storm that might come our way. And who knows what storm is coming our way next, as that is life.
The pandemic has been hard for all of us, and we have all learnt something different about ourselves and our lifestyles. But these are 8 of the most important changes I believe that lockdown has highlighted we should make, in my opinion. If everyone made these 8 changes, I truly think that the post covid society, will become healthier, happier, and more resilient to hardship.
And that can only be a good thing.
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