Social distancing threatens social norms, mental health: "It's hard to go back"

The constant reminders that it’s not safe to shake hands or come too close to one another isn’t healthy, and mental health specialists warn that these social cues will linger in our minds after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

“It’s hard to go back to more relaxed norms,” said Yulia Chentsova Dutton, a cultural psychologist and a professor at Georgetown University.

Russians developed the cultural habit of changing their clothes immediately after coming home from the outdoors during the civil war and World War II period, and that ritual has been handed down for generations.

“You will probably see something similar happening in the United States,” Ms. Chentsova Dutton said, though she noted that these types of habits develop over time.