Malaysian government has officially announced a nationwide partial lockdown from 18th March 2020 to 31st March 2020. During this period, publics are encouraged to self-quarantine and to only step out for daily essentials and medical help. According to Selangor COVID-19 Task Force member, Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, we should not panic and must limit all the movement from city to “kampung” and vice versa as this will help to slow down the spread of COVID-19. However, many individuals decided to “balik kampung” despite the Movement Control Order. So, what drives people to “balik kampung”?
Many students from several higher learning institutions were instructed to vacate from their respective residential colleges and return home starting 17th March 2020.
❷ Returning to Our Safe Haven
It is natural for us wanting to go back to the place where we feel safest in times of distress. This decision is enhanced by the memory that is cued by the physical setting that we remember how it has helped us to cope with our anxiety and fear. Commonly, the memory comes with the presence of our loved ones being there, accepting us with arms wide open.
While lockdown measure and social isolation may be good to curb COVID-19 spread, it may also lead to an unintended consequence of loneliness. We human beings are inherently social. Seeing it from the perspective of evolutionary psychology, it means that human beings evolved in a way whereby we feel safest in groups. As a result, people may feel driven to go back to the place where they can be together and spend time with their loved ones.
Be it out of fear or responsibility, in Asian communities, we tend to highlight the importance of taking care of our family. Perhaps, going back may mean to fulfill this family values of supporting our loved ones. Moreover, family grows closer in times of adversity.
With two weeks break from work and study, many who live far from home, including myself would love to take this opportunity to go back to spend time with their loved ones as this will help to strengthen the family bond. For me, I would want to spend more time with my parents especially having my mom recovering from breast cancer in 2018.
"By looking and trying to understand from the 'balik kampung' population point of view does not mean that we are encouraging people to do so. At the same time, we are also against the recent attacks online and cyberbullying towards individuals who took the effort to be with their loved ones. All in all, it is a personal choice. What's done is done. At present, let's move towards the direction looking at what CAN be done instead for a better tomorrow. It is when there is hope that can help us hang on until the crisis is over."
Be❦Live In Psychology is a mental health clinic at Ecosky, Jalan Kuching, Kuala Lumpur. Our services consist of therapy, assessment and training. WhatsApp us at +6018 – 206 7313 to make an appointment.
Jolene is an intern at BeLive in Psychology. She is currently pursuing her Master's Degree in Counseling at Monash University. She writes topics covering mental wellbeing and sustainable (green) lifestyle. She also enjoys doing modeling and creative works.