Taking Steps Towards "Normal"
The entire world has been stopped in its tracks by COVID-19. The impact of COVID-19 including social distancing and stay-at-home orders have changed our way of life. People are realizing that we can’t really go “back to normal.” Instead, at least for now, we need to create a new normal. But what does that mean?
There is so much that we don’t know: How long certain measures will stay in place? Will we continue to wear masks from now on? What are birthday parties, holidays and outings like going to the movies going to feel like in the future?
As businesses are now beginning to open up and safety measures are different in every city, county, and state, the conflicting information about health and safety can add to uncertainty and fear.
But even while so much is unknown about the future and even the present, there are ways that we can start to create a sense of normalcy in our lives.
- Work smart. If you’re returning to an office or other work setting, take some time to plan out what steps you can take to be safe. This includes:
- Talking to your manager about safety precautions, including how to safely use shared spaces. The CDC has provided employers with guidance on returning to work.
- Wearing a mask and having extra masks.
- Thinking about how and when to use elevators and other tight spaces.
- Staying home if you’re sick, even if you don’t think you have COVID-19
- Know the rules and how to apply them. Whether at home or work, follow the health and safety orders of your place of work, city, county, and state. Most states’ and municipalities’ guidelines are posted online. If you’re confused, call your mayor’s office or your state representative for help.
- Use common sense. In some cases, states are leaving people to make their own decisions about distancing and wearing masks. Factor in extenuating circumstances such as underlying health conditions or your what feels right to you, based on information from trusted authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control.
- Make regular connections with people. If you were used to spending your days with colleagues, friends, and family, the social distancing orders and safety measures have made it impossible to live as you did. Still, it is important to stay connected with the people in your life as regularly as possible. Set up video calls, send texts, and have phone conversations. Do whatever it takes to make sure that you feel connected to the people who are important to you. This will help maintain a sense of normalcy in your life. And if these are regularly scheduled, it will help create a sense of routine.
- Find your normal. Everyone reacts to change differently. As you ease into creating a routine and new normal, find what works for you. If you are not comfortable in some situations that used to be part of your regular life, don’t force yourself. For some, the fear of illness for yourself or loved ones, along with the sudden change in routine and lifestyle can cause secondary traumatic stress. Speak to a professional counselor or therapist and find ways to create a new normal. If you are having thoughts of self-harm, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline where you can get confidential help right away.
- Reaching out to help others. Helping others may have a positive effect on the helper as well. Whether you volunteer to buy groceries for family, friends, or neighbors who aren’t able to themselves, or give of your time or resources to homeless shelters or other organizations, it may help bring purpose and meaning to your life. Spending time or resources on others may actually help improve your own wellbeing. If you are not able to physically help others, it may help to check in on people who are alone, even by phone or a video chat.
- Take time for self-care. Self-care means different things to different people. For the most part, self-care is taking time to do things that make you feel calm, relaxed, or happy. Doing yoga may be your form of self-care, or going for a walk, reading a book, watching TV, or taking a bath. Try to think of ways that you can feel relaxed, calm, or in control, and then fit those things into your life regularly. In times of stress, self-care becomes especially important.
- Keep your sense of humor. At times, it might be hard to find something to laugh about given the current circumstances. But it is important to find something that makes you laugh. It can be reading jokes online, laughing with friends, or watching comedy shows and movies. Laughing may relieve stress and is a great way to help you ease into the new normal.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207191/ Retrieved on 5/3/20
https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2013/02/people-giving Retrieved on 5/3/20
https://www.ptsd.va.gov/covid/COVID_managing_stress.asp Retrieved on 5/3/20
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456 Retrieved on 5/3/20