‘A great snap back’: What one psychologist expects when it’s OK to socialize again

TORONTO — While no one knows for sure what a post-pandemic world will look like, one expert expects that society will return to its social norms almost immediately when the day comes.

Steve Joordens, a psychology professor from the University of Toronto Scarborough, told CTV News Channel that despite Canada being in the midst of a second wave of COVID-19, he is optimistic that social norms will eventually return.

“I would say that we will see a great snap back, that once we all feel safe again, we’ve all missed that normalcy so much I suspect we will go back there,” said Joordens.

The COVID-19 pandemic will likely have short- and long-term effects on the way humans socialize, according to Joordens. He said that, once it’s safe to socialize again, some people may need more time to reintroduce social norms into their daily lives because of lingering fear.

“We are walking around fearing human beings, fearing strangers. But my suspicion is we’ll keep tighter social circles after this,” said Joordens.

Mental health during the pandemic remains a growing concern for Canadians as people cope with tightened restrictions for a second time around. As we head into another winter with COVID-19, Joordens says Canadians are feeling the toll “emotionally.”

“A lot of us are trying to … figure out how we can best manage the next few months,” said Joordens.

A According to a national survey published by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), the number of Canadians who feel depressed recently increased from 21 per cent in September compared to 18 per cent in July. Fear and anxiety of the virus has also gone up.

“Connecting with others is how we cope and the virus has taken that away from us,” he said.

When we feel negative emotions such as grief, stress and fear, connecting with social others is often how we cope. The virus has taken that away from us, Joordens said.

Since physical isolation plays a major role in the way society responds to the pandemic, it is important in the winter months ahead to make an effort to reach out to others safely, according to Joordens, such as through phone calls or Zoom hangouts. 

“We want to be physically distant but we want to be socially close,” he said.

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