Typically, as we age, our values seem to shift. What was once vitally important no longer holds as much appeal, and instead, new values emerge. These shifts are generally positive because with age comes wisdom, right? At least, that’s how the old saying goes.
Core values take years to shift in meaningful ways. For example, when you were younger, you may have sought after wealth, and as you age, you realize you value sincere and honest relationships with others more than anything else.
However, this year, Covid-19 has caused value shifts across generations: young people, middle-aged people, and older people alike. We have all felt in the impact. As Glenn Stewart said, “Values offer focus amidst the chaos.”
So, What’s Changed?
Recent research has shown that thanks to the global pandemic, values such as materialism, authority, prosperity, status, self-interest have fallen. However, as values decline, they must be replaced.
Similar to the Great Depression of the 1930s, the reemerging values seen are family, interpersonal relationships, frugality, self-sufficiency, and overall health awareness. This paradigm makes sense since with chaos and insecurity comes an examination of what’s important.
Let’s take a look at each of these values:
Family and Interpersonal Relationships
With the fear of losing loved ones due to Covid-19, it’s no surprise that globally, we have become more family and relationship-oriented in the past year. Not to mention, many have been quarantined at home with family, which can cause both stress and improved relationships.
The Sydney Morning Herald cites that more Australian families reported that their relationships have improved since Covid-19 and that the “lockdown has brought many families closer.” This Canadian study states that the Covid-19 lockdown brought fathers closer to their children, which is a plus that may not have been seen without the pandemic.
The pandemic has also revealed proactive ways to stay in touch with family and friends who you cannot see in person. More phone and virtual interactions, like Zoom, have occurred to keep family and friends close. In fact, some report that they feel closer to their family and friends than before the pandemic, even though they cannot see them in person.
Addiction support groups quickly formed online so that members could still meet each other virtually. This may not be ideal, but it has been a lifesaver for many struggling with addiction and needing help.
In short, because people have had to make an effort to stay connected to others, many report that the connections are more meaningful.
The shift to frugality comes after job losses, stay at home orders, and of course, fear of the virus. We are spending less and saving more.
Reports from all over the world, including this one from India, show that consumer spending has decreased by at least 20 percent. Similarly, roughly 2/3 of Americans say their spending habits have changed since the beginning of the pandemic, according to this article. An article from Forbes states that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) shrank by 4.8% in 2020, which is the starkest decline since 2009.
Based on the research, consumers’ attitudes and spending behaviors are changing and may remain for good after the pandemic. Purchases are mostly for basic needs and shopping locally and online. Many retailers are closing doors, while consumers are analyzing products with a new lens.
Overall Health Awareness
Inevitably, Covid has changed the way we view our health as we try to stay safe by washing our hands frequently, wearing masks, and social distancing. No one is immune to a virus, and although its effects range from mild to deadly, the fact that we are caught in a pandemic has made us more cautious about our health.
Mental health awareness is more prevalent than ever, and rightfully so. The pandemic has brought with it uncertainty, disruptions in schedules, financial pressures, and social isolation, causing immense amounts of stress and anxiety.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director-general said in a statement, “Good mental health is fundamental to overall health and well-being. COVID-19 has interrupted essential mental health services around the world just when they’re needed most. World leaders must move fast and decisively to invest more in life-saving mental health programmes ̶ during the pandemic and beyond.”
Then, there’s exercise and fitness. While most gyms and health facilities have shut down, people are getting more creative with Zoom workouts, online fitness competitions, and even virtual races. A new American survey found that 59 percent of people don’t plan to return to the gym when the pandemic is over. The reason is that they have found more “affordable ways” to exercise and stay healthy within their own homes and neighborhoods.
Whenever struck with a crisis, such as the global Covid pandemic, people respond differently. Some respond with fear, mistrust, and panic, while others gather resources to make the best of the situation, and most of us fall somewhere in between.
While we see a shift in core values because of the pandemic’s effects, the question remains, where will we go from here?
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