The Impact of Living Life Online & Transitioning Back to “Normalcy”
by Michael Teh
While things have almost returned to “normal” after the pandemic, some of us who have been living “online” for at least two years are still in transition to that phase of normalcy. In addition, the way things have changed post-pandemic has also shaped the culture in the workplace, so some of you are still working remotely or from home.
In this article, we discuss the impact of living online and what coping mechanisms are available to manage this transition and adapt to the new norm of life with some practical mindfulness tips.
“That being said, the phase we lived in online during the pandemic has shaped our brains psychologically, socially, and in terms of our functional impact. According to Dr. Peter Gallagher, lecturer in neuropsychology at Newcastle University, the brain is adaptive and constantly changing, forming new connections, and breaking down old ones.”
Almost all of us have been affected by the impact of the pandemic, and most importantly, the way we function in our daily lives, whether at work or in our personal lives, has changed significantly. Who would have thought that it would be possible to work from home?
All those Zoom calls and meetings to socialise limited our face-to-face contact for extended periods of time. Let us face it, all of this has had an impact on our brains – no matter how grown up we are, because our brains never stop changing or developing in response to our experiences.
That being said, the phase we lived in online during the pandemic has shaped our brains psychologically, socially, and in terms of our functional impact. According to Dr. Peter Gallagher, lecturer in neuropsychology at Newcastle University, the brain is adaptive and constantly changing, forming new connections, and breaking down old ones.
So let us understand the impact that online life has on our lives:
Did you find it difficult to stay motivated or focused during the pandemic, or did your days melt into one? If so, it was because we did not make as many memories as we should have.
The effects of the lockdowns had impaired our brain’s ability to form and store memories because we could not do anything else for a long period of time. We were stuck in the same four walls week after week, and as a result we lost the richness of new and unique experiences.
2.Small Talk Matters
As most of us work from home and do most of our socializing through screens, the way we communicate has changed dramatically. It took us some time to get used to it because it was more difficult to know how others were reacting since we were not communicating face to face with others.
And without face-to-face communication, there was a lack of small talk or exchanging niceties, which could have affected our confidence and concentration. The way we communicated with each other became very purposeful as we communicated mainly through emails, text messages, and virtual meetings.
However, this could have affected our concentration, empathy, and self-esteem as online communication became more and more the norm. This would also affect our interpersonal skills as we spend more time in front of screens communicating with each other.
3.How Screens Affect Our Sleep
Did you know that vital sleep improves our brain power, mood, and health? When we sleep, our brains perform unique tasks that are only possible while we sleep. Disrupted sleep patterns affect how we handle stress, our appetite, and our memory. At the same time, sleep is directly related to the feel-good hormone dopamine in our brain. So, if we do not sleep properly and sufficiently, dopamine levels drop, which in turn affects our anxiety levels.
That said, with the pandemic having to shift our lives online, we spend more hours in front of screens, where we are exposed to more blue light, which affects our natural melatonin production, the hormone that plays an important role in our ability to fall asleep at night – making it harder for us to fall asleep, thus affecting our sleep and overall well-being.
As we return to a sense of normalcy after the pandemic, we either return to our previous lifestyle (pre-pandemic) or prepare to return to the life that prevailed before the pandemic.
In addition, returning to society can be overwhelming and scary for many of us as our brains have become accustomed and changed during the days of the pandemic.
If you are still trying to get your life back to normal, or if you are in a job where you can or must work remotely or from home, here are 3 ways you can cultivate mindfulness in your daily life to better manage stress, difficult emotions, and situations.
Watch your breathing. When you’re stressed, frustrated, or angry, taking a few deep breaths can help, as can breathing exercises. You can read my five simple yogic breathing techniques here.
2.Be in the Present
Practise paying attention to what you’re doing. This could include paying attention to how you brush your teeth, turning off email notifications while you’re doing a work-related task, putting your phone away when spending time with a friend or spouse, or slowing down to your food to really enjoy while eating.
3.Be Keen to Your 5 Senses
Pay attention to one of your five senses: sight, touch, hearing, taste, or smell. Notice the sun peeking out from behind a cloud, your child humming to himself, the smell of a raspberry, the warm paw of your beloved pet, or the scent of your first cup of coffee.
As an additional guide, we would like to encourage each of us to make meditation a part of our daily lives, as it brings many benefits. You can read more about the benefits of meditation here. And if you are interested in cultivating mindfulness and making meditation a daily practice in your life, contact us at hello@iammichaelteh or follow our FB & IG @iammichaelteh as we are more than willing to walk this journey with you.
Part of this article is credited to Majenta Solutions, YourStory, Verywell Health, HenryFord.com & Psychology Now.
Michael Teh, 7th January 2023.
Michael Teh is a meditation coach devoted to a personal mission of awakening more people to higher consciousness. He teaches self-realization through meditation, qigong, yoga and philosophy.
Michael Teh Signature Workshop: The Essence of Life Series explores meditation as a powerful tool to realize our true potential. Michael has designed multiple workshops in this series to support his participants’ self-realization journey. Workshop Series 1 is currently running every few months on-ground in Kuala Lumpur, titled “Knowledge of The Self and Fundamentals of Meditation”.
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