THE NEW NORMAL: HOW LIFE HAS CHANGED DUE TO COVID-19
Tips for coping with mental health during coronavirus covid-19 anxiety worry, unpredictability.
Change is difficult to adjust to and especially when it rips apart all our lifestyles, belief systems and any kind of certainty we could have had about the way we live and the place we live in.
Over the past few months, we’ve experienced an unprecedented shift in our way of life due to COVID-19. Pre-pandemic, where a trip to do a weekly grocery shop, seems like an adventure of its own! Before we know it, we’ve (reluctantly) let go of our old normal and now settling into what seems to be our new normal. And who knows if this has come to stay.
With the fundamental shifts in our life here are some tips of how to adjust to the anew Normal.
THE WAY WE LIVE IS DIFFERENT
Masks and gloves may be commonplace, depending on where in the world you live.
Queuing is now the norm, be it when visiting health professionals, going to the shops, or even getting in a lift.
Public transport looks very different, with social distancing in place and commuters wearing masks and gloves.
We do a double-take when we hear someone cough, sneeze, or sniffle. We’ve been conditioned these past few months to be hypervigilant for these symptoms, but hopefully, this might also mean that higher standards of hand and personal hygiene will continue.
We’ll start to holiday more in our own backyards due to travel restrictions, which can only be a good thing for local economies as they cope with the decline in overseas and interstate tourist numbers. Wanderlust for overseas exotic locations will also be on the rise, and Instagram will no doubt fuel those desires.
The small things that make up our community have changed. No more sausage sizzles at Bunnings, no community sports, no lingering over brunch with friends at the local cafe, and salons have closed due to the pandemic. We’re hoping our local small businesses – our hairdressers, barbers, cafes, restaurants, health professionals, newsagents, boutiques – make it through the other end (so be sure to support your local small business!)
The larger sporting landscape has also changed. Sporting leagues have paused but are cautiously eyeing a return, and national and international meets are near impossible given travel restrictions. Sport has also been hit particularly hard by a coronavirus in the year of the Summer Olympic Games, which have now been postponed to 2021.
THE WAY WE WORK OR STUDY HAS CHANGED
Education as we know it has changed. Schools and universities have moved online, some blending face-to-face with online lectures. Universities around the world are feeling the impact of the absence of International Students. Conferences will be paused, and international collaborations and sabbaticals now look very different from previous years.
Work has also changed due to social distancing. So many of us shifted to working from home to minimise travelling on public transport and gathering in groups at the office. Zoom meetings even became our New Normal. With restrictions easing, we may cautiously rotate back into working at the office in shifts or embrace working from home on a more regular basis.
THE WAY WE SOCIALISE AND CONNECT LOOKS VERY DIFFERENTLY
Social distancing, social distancing, social distancing. No more packing in large crowds when we all have to have a personal bubble of over a metre. We have said goodbye (for now) to attending concerts, plays, movies, festivals, museums, etc., but hopefully, they are able to return soon.
Not seeing loved ones…for their benefit. Elderly parents and grandparents, pregnant friends or new parents, or those with health conditions that render them more vulnerable to coronavirus – we’re staying away to keep them safe. In a time when it’s more important than ever to stay connected, this can be particularly challenging for all.
No visits from loved ones from interstate or overseas. With travel restrictions in place and unlikely to lift for the foreseeable future (particularly international travel), families and loved ones are being kept apart and having to make do with online catch-ups.
Social greetings have morphed. Gone are the days of greeting friends and extended relatives with handshakes, hugs, and cheek-kisses. Friendly gestures like these are now being curbed, to be replaced by elbow bumps and foot-shakes, or waves from a (social) distance.
The way we ‘dine out’ has changed. Many restaurants and cafes may only be serving takeaways at the moment, but even when they reopen for us to dine-in there will likely be restrictions around how many are able to dine-in, social distancing will be in place, and shared plates may disappear for quite some time.
So how can we ease into this new way of living? Read on for tips to help you adjust to the New Normal.
- ALLOW YOURSELF TO GRIEVE THE “OLD” NORMAL
It is very human to miss the old ways, and as with any change (at the best of times!), it’s easy to feel a sense of loss.
Throw in a pandemic, along with changes to routines and plans for the weeks and months ahead in 2020, and it’s more important than ever to acknowledge the challenges and difficulties that we face in light of COVID-19.
Yes, there will be denial, anger, maybe even depression and acceptance, as we pivot and adjust to our new normal (whatever form it may take). But it’s important to give yourself time to grieve what you have lost.
Once you’ve allowed yourself to grieve, there will be more space to start embracing your New Normal.
- CREATE A NEW ROUTINE
Having a routine can help create some sense of normalcy during a time of chaos, so get creative so that you can continue on in some way:
No longer able to go to the gym? Go online with home-based programs that can be done with little or no equipment.
Missing your ritual of a morning coffee to kick off a workday? Make your own at home (latte art optional), and be sure to enjoy it mindfully before checking your emails.
Unable to have regular brunch catch-ups at your local with friends? Order takeaway and connect via Zoom.
Above all, be flexible when it comes to finding your new routine…let’s remember that these are challenging times!
- JOURNAL YOUR EXPERIENCE
Writing about your experience – be it your thoughts, feelings, what you’ve done, anything! – can be quite therapeutic and a great chronicle to look back on long after COVID-19 has passed.
Whilst a default during these times may be to focus on the coronavirus chaos, don’t forget to record things that make you feel better by taking a gratitude approach (see the prompts in Point 1 in this article).
- CREATE A SPACE INSIDE YOUR SPACE
With much of your life now happening between four walls, having a designated space at home to work or study (or to journal!) can help maintain boundaries between work and play.
Take it one step further and dress to get into the right frame of mind…it can be challenging to whip up the motivation to meet a deadline when you’re in your pyjamas the entire day.
- STAY CONNECTED IN NEW WAYS
Social distancing does not mean social disconnecting (even if it feels easier to hibernate until this is all over). In the new normal you can still connect with family and friends – just in different ways!
It does take a bit of creativity though when we can’t do a lot of the things that we previously did, so if you’re looking for ways to make social connections happen in your New Normal we’ve got a great article here on how to stay connected in time of pandemic both online and offline.
- CREATE AND FIND POCKETS OF JOY
The New Normal can be challenging at times, so celebrate anything that puts a smile on your face, large or small. Made a nice cup of tea this morning? Great! Walked your dog today? Awesome! Saw a funny meme on social media? Go ahead and chuckle!
We don’t always need “major” events to happen to make us feel happy (for example, winning the lottery). Smaller moments of joy all add up! If you’re finding you’re focusing on negatives, why not look at how Positive Psychology can help you find the feel-good factor during these challenging times?
- GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
You are allowed to take things one moment at a time! We may not know what the next minute, or even the next hour, will bring.
Set yourself a realistic goal and allow yourself to adjust it when you need to. Remind yourself that we’re currently living in extraordinary times, so give yourself some grace during moments like these:
With everyone at home now it may be more difficult to keep the house tidy, so adjusting expectations about housekeeping may be more helpful rather than stressing out about having to clean every minute.
Between working from home, homeschooling the kids, and doing continuous food preparation throughout the day, there may be days when you have no energy left to cook dinner. So consider ordering takeaway (and support your local café or restaurant!) or reheating some frozen food. Now is the time to be human and to ask for help.