2021 is the most villainous year in living memory. Not since the Spanish Flu has a pandemic brought the world to its knees. It has claimed millions of lives, destroyed many more millions financially, and made countries almost bankrupt.
In this context, if we were to tell you that some positives did emerge from 2021, you might disbelieve us. And we won’t blame you because this year has been pretty bleak for everyone. But let us tell you why there is actually a bright side to 2021. We have all become so much more aware of our health! For years, a number of health concerns had driven medical experts and governments to sound the alarm, but despite their best efforts, people didn’t really bother. But the pandemic has been a wake-up call. We have imbibed many vital health lessons because of COVID-19. Here’s a listing of some of the things we have learnt.
Did you know that it’s not just COVID that spreads through contact with infected people and objects? Many dangerous diseases such as diarrhoea, typhoid, chickenpox, measles, or hepatitis are communicable diseases. And India has throughout modern history been one of the countries with the highest rate of infection for these diseases because our sanitation system is in shambles. But you can greatly reduce the likelihood of contracting all of these illnesses by practising hygiene.
Here’s what COVID has drilled into us-
- Sanitizing our hands frequently when we are out in public. Sanitization with alcoholic sanitisers or soap and water kills not just the coronavirus but other deadly microbes as well.
- Washing our clothes often. Most of us wash our clothes on coming home or use disinfecting prays on them. Many germs can linger on fabric for days and enter our bodies unless washed or disinfected.
- Cleaning our fruits and vegetables. Pesticides and artificial colourants that exist on the skin of fruits and vegetables are dangerous for our health. When you wash and clean fruits and vegetables, it removes not just coronavirus but other harmful chemicals as well.
- Disinfecting everything we bring into the house. Be it food packets, clothes packages, newspapers, or medicines, we religiously disinfect everything before bringing it into our homes and thus kill all possible germs.
Wearing a mask
Wearing a mask is the first line of defence against COVID. Most responsible people have made it a habit to wear masks when they step out of their house, even if it’s just for a few minutes. And the good news is that wearing masks serves another purpose. These masks also reduce the entry of aerial particulate matter into your respiratory system. Air pollution has reached notorious levels in India and thousands are struck by severe respiratory illnesses every year.
Firecrackers are killers
The courts of law have for years ruled in favour of banning the sale of firecrackers. But people have always found a way to smuggle in crackers and set them off during Diwali, weddings, and Christmas or New Year celebrations. But it took a deadly pandemic to make us all realize how dangerous the smoke emitted by firecrackers is. It weakens our lungs and paves the way for not just COVID but also other respiratory diseases, including cancer. It is because of the people’s realization that the Supreme Court ban has been successful.
The need for managing co-morbidities
Illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity can make COVID lethal and this message has been emphasized from the start of the pandemic. People have finally woken up to the urgent need to manage these disorders. Previously it was common for people to skip their high blood pressure medication, go off their diabetes diet or not do anything to try to bring their weight under control and the burden of these diseases was growing persistently. But much of that has changed. The fear of COVID has compelled people to stick to their medication, exercise sufficiently, eat healthily, and consult their doctors for effective disease management.
Building our immunity
A weak immunity makes COVID inevitable. In a bid to toughen up their immunity, people have started to eat healthily. They are consciously including more vegetables and fruits in their diet and scrupulously consuming Ayurvedic products such as ginger, turmeric, ashwagandha, tulsi, long pepper, giloy, etc.
The year is drawing to a close and we are all happy to see it go. But let us make a promise to ourselves that we will continue to keep up with these newly-developed good habits even after we have all been vaccinated.