One of the days I look forward to each year almost as much as I do Christmas is 20 June. Why? Well, it is the winter solstice! 20 June is the day our tiny planet decides that it is time to lean the other way and start bringing us southern-hemispherers (not an actual word) closer to the sun.
The winter solstice is perhaps now more than ever not only a true indication of the change in seasons but for us, perhaps more symbolic as South Africa is slowly returning to normal. Yes, that's right normal, not new-normal.
I find a new term coined out of pure uncertainty absurd, and refuse to accept that there was any norm before all this that we can now decide has officially changed.
This turning point we find ourselves at does, however, present us with a unique opportunity to set our own course going forward.
We have been presented by the extended lockdown with more than enough time to think, strategise, and map out the direction we as individuals and our organisations have to follow. Unless you are one of the few businesses or industries still not allowed to trade, you have absolutely no excuse for not having a clear direction in front of you.
Social distancing, another buzz word I believe is given excessive credit and power, is not going to be around forever. Regardless of what the WHO or COGTA says.
By nature, human beings are social creatures that need social contact and interaction. The image of the crazy cat-lady so often seen in movies could become all too real, and not being a cat person, that is pretty scary. So I have no intention, of making social distancing a "thing".
Of greater concern should we maintain the social distancing construct and incessant sanitising, is our health. Yes, that is contrary to the whole idea behind social distancing in light of COVID-19, but hear me out. I see two main reasons why social distancing, in the long run, will not be all it's cracked up to be.
Social connection and support have been found to reduce the physiological burden of stress and contribute to health and well-being through several other pathways as well, although there remains a subject of ongoing research. One way social connection reduces our stress response is by inhibiting activity in our pain and alarm neural systems. Brain areas that respond to social warmth and connection (notably, the septal area) have inhibitory connections to the amygdala, which have the structural capacity to reduce threat responding (Eisenberger, Naomi I.; Taylor, Shelley E.; Gable, Shelly L.; Hilmert, Clayton J.; Lieberman, Matthew D. (2007)." Neural pathways link social support to attenuated neuroendocrine stress responses".)
Cities and countries have been built around our need for social interaction and connection. Whether you believe we evolved from apes or you know that God created us, the constant is that humans have always sought out community, not only for comfort, but also for protection, and personal/intellectual growth.
The impact on society should social distancing be enforced, will have far more a far more negative impact than a bad cold.
It is widely agreed that being exposed to certain viruses and bacteria allows our bodies to build immunity and resistance to many everyday illness-causing bugs. There is a theory in the medical fraternity known as the "Hygiene Hypothesis". This theory assumes that more exposure to germs is better.
It suggests that the now excessive use of hand sanitisers and excessive cleanliness may eventually result in an increase in asthma, allergies, and autoimmune disorders. It argues that people that live in less hygienic or unsanitary environments have stronger immune systems as their bodies are constantly creating new antibodies, and learning how to defend against new germs.
Viruses and diseases are not new, and long before antibiotics and immunizations, our bodies were in charge of taking care of us.
The direction we decide to take from this moment will decide not only the outcome of our businesses or careers, but also that of our lifestyle, and the lives of our children that will need to live with our decisions.
We need to make educated and informed common-sense choices for our businesses, families, and communities.
With open eyes and minds, it is easy to identify hidden agendas from international and national organisations.
Will you lean to, or away from summer?