Covid-19 has undoubtedly made a dent in contemporary history. Shops have been closed, we have embraced technology, and we have all done our best to shelter at home. Locally, our economy has gradually phased into re-opening. With it comes feelings of relief and the anticipation to get out and do more.
Equally, it reminds us that things are different. People now wear masks to typical stores. Dining out requires fewer people, and summer sports remain canceled. In essence, life does not go back to normal. Instead, for a brief time at least, we have to creat a new one.
Here are a few things that might help as you create a new normal:
- 1. Recognize it can be scary
We like comfort and things to be kept the same. It generally makes us feel secure and peaceful. It can be scary to try to step out and do things we once did after being home for weeks at a time. After all, the initial 15 days of sheltering-in-place ended up being 6 weeks in my hometown.
Staying home created a sense of peace and comfort. So then, there is a reasonable tension between apprehension toward stepping out and being done with staying at home. If you find yourself experiencing this tension, you are not alone. Most people, if they are honest, would admit to mixed emotions.
2. Embrace the change instead of trying to run away from it
Change is disruptive and divisive. It takes away our consistency and shatters our emotional safety net. Yet, it is equally a starting point for new opportunities and improvement. Walking through change enables personal growth and professional maturity. No one will be the same person they were previously to life-changes.
It becomes an opportunity to shed some emotional and physical baggage, and make some changes, that perhaps we were unaware that needed to take place. There are many things to consider as you begin to create a new normal for your daily routine. Maybe you gained some insight into how busy you were before sheltering in place. Now, you may want to be more intentional in your commitments. Or perhaps you have found a new appreciation for nature and desire to spend more time in the outdoors. If we look, beauty is discovered within the chaos brought about by change.
3. Start somewhere
Even if you anticipate your journey to be slow-going. Just start. Do something. Go somewhere. You cannot create a new normal by being stationary. It requires that you keep going forward. One of the things I shared with friends and clients during our shelter-in-place was to “Keep going forward.” It does not matter how little or how much you accomplish – keep putting one foot in front of the other. Do that for a few days, and then you can look back to see how far you have come. Then you will find more motivation and incentive to keep going forward.
4. Be focused on what is important and flexible on everything else
Be open to new ideas and how things will have to be for a while. Many people are against wearing masks in my hometown. That’s ok. Many people think we should never have closed the economy. That’s ok. But everyone is grateful for all the essential workers that have helped keep the food-chain supplied, the hospitals open, and the banking industry working. That’s what is important.
5. Re-connect with friends
For so many, the pandemic has brought about an appreciation for the importance of friendships. Virtual happy hours, family game nights, and video chats have been a definite positive during this time of separation. Now is the time to fulfill that craving of wanting to be with people. Even if we have to socially distance, there is still something to be said about actually being in the presence of others that is so meaningful. It’s a gift that should be cherished.
6. Find your gaze
When life becomes overwhelming, we need somewhere to put our gaze. A place that we can hang our hat and fix our attention to give us direction. For some, this is their faith. For others, it may be personal goal-setting. It just needs to be something that you can turn to when mixed emotions and questions start to enter your thoughts. Some places that can align your focus to keep you moving forward.
7. Express your gratitude
My grandmother grew up in the Great Depression. Her father was an unemployed bricklayer, and her mother was a housekeeper. She volunteered during World War II. She divorced her abusive husband in the 1950s at a time when it was considered shameful. She worked in a school cafeteria to support herself after her second husband died of a heart attack. Shortly into retirement, she developed terminal cancer.
Yet, she was always the most encouraging person to be around. Everyone loved being around her. Whenever one of us complained, she would admonish, “There is always something to be grateful for…” Who knew that the research would later support my grandmother’s reminder. Taking the time to count our blessings immediately shifts our focus to positivity.
Most importantly, as our country gradually starts to re-open and phase into post-quarantine, remember that while it can be daunting to create a new normal – it can be rewarding. Just start the process. Maybe re-connect with friends along the way. Finding something to focus your attention and as my grandmother would say, “Remember to be thankful!”