Culture, Lifestyle

What the pandemic has taught us

What the pandemic has taught us

At this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, the #newnormal should just be “normal”, right? Yet, the early days that paved the way for where we are now were marked with a couple of obsessions that captured our time and attention, reigniting our sense of hope and optimism. Read on to find out all about them.


Greening The Abode

For as long as the human race has walked this earth, we’ve had a complicated, dual relationship with the natural world – a quiet sense of awe at its wonders coupled with a desire to conquer and bring it under our control. It’s hard to pinpoint at exactly which stage of the pandemic our obsession with houseplants began, but grasping at its appeal is easy enough. After all, when the great outdoors are forbidden to us, it makes perfect sense to attempt to bring a sense of nature and wilderness into the domicile.

Plant lovers often enthuse that focusing on gardening and tending to their collection act as the perfect outlet to de-stressing. During lockdown, this hobby may have served as a lifeline to momentarily distract from the raging pandemic and soaring COVID-19 case numbers. We can imagine why: as you prune away dead leaves, mix compost and repot succulents, you’re forced to be present and pay attention to the task at hand. Tending to houseplants literally requires both hands, forcing you to put down your phone and carefully consider the gentle living organism in your care. What better way to reduce screen time and end doomscrolling?

Furthermore, indulging in home horticulture can act as the perfect gateway to discover and learn about new plant varieties. Although you may start with the hardy fiddle leaf fig, we won’t blink an eye if your collection expands to include monsteras and philodendrons.


Honing Culinary Secrets

If the home has a heart, it would undoubtedly be the kitchen. After all, it’s in this unique space that meals are made, families are nourished and kinship is strengthened. It’s only natural for us to gravitate towards this hub of sustenance and comfort when there’s so much uncertainty in the world.

Chances are, you know of at least one person who started cooking or baking more actively during lockdown. To the casual observer, the uptick in cooking (and to a greater extent – messing around in the kitchen) appears to have started innocuously enough. Put your hands up if you remember the Dalgona coffee craze blew up in the early days of lockdown. Though short-lived, we like to believe this served as the catalyst that rekindled public interest in cooking. If something as delectable and simple as Dolgana coffee could be whipped up with a few staple ingredients, what other fantastic culinary creations were waiting to be whipped up?

Spurred by a sense of curiosity (and hungry stomachs, no doubt), many began turning their hand at more complex kitchen projects such as baking banana bread, and even experimenting with kombucha and sourdough starters. The appeal is easy to understand and perhaps one of the most fundamental forms of self-care: after all, it makes perfect sense to keep your body nourished in the middle of a raging pandemic.


Staying Strong At Home

The pandemic presented a paradigm shift that marked the loss of freedom and what was once considered normal. For many, it also signified the end of usual routines, disrupting active lifestyles and gym workouts. Despite its obstacles, the pandemic offered a silver lining that served as a lifeline – the rise of home workouts.

It might have started with a couple of seemingly simple workout moves like the handstand T-shirt challenge to pass the time and flex some muscles, but over the months, home exercises began to gain traction as we dived deep into different fitness programmes to stay healthy.

There had always been a wealth of workout videos and tutorials on platforms like YouTube and Instagram; these gained a further audience and following as more and more people began looking into different ways of staying in shape from the comfort of their own homes. Relying on video calls for #sweatsesh with friends also became a popular way to bond and keep connections alive during lockdown.

Although home exercises were not comparable to chasing the pump at gyms, it offered many the opportunity to become reacquainted with fitness and take charge of their health. Being able to tap into exercise as a stress-relieving outlet has without a doubt helped boost morale and keep spirits high too.


Hopping Aboard Social Media Trends

As the outside world became inaccessible, we began to spend more time on our devices to take our minds off what was happening all over the globe. The obvious choices were spending time on Netflix to binge watch Korean shows, but for some, being in lockdown served as the perfect opportunity to hone our creativity via social media. What may have started as TikTok dance challenges paved the way for fashion and outfit transitions, as well as styling reels.

In a way, this newfound obsession with social media provided the perfect platform for individuals to showcase their current obsessions, be it houseplants, cooking or working out. Posting about our latest passions also helped reach a wider audience, connecting us to like-minded individuals who shared our excitement and joy. Though seemingly frivolous, being active on social media helped to keep us connected, extending a much- needed booster for the human spirit.


This story first appeared in the February 2022 issue of Men’s Folio Malaysia.