When the New Normal Isn’t Normal

In just a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has turned our lives upside-down and has made things unpredictable, uncontrollable, and unprecedented. We are no longer just anxious about the virus itself, but the confines of quarantine, the impact on the economy, our jobs, and the disruption of our daily routine.The natural human response to losing our sense of control is stress, which primes us to be on high alert and to find a quick fix. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes, but we are in control of some things—our individual behaviors and thoughts. There’s a lot to deal with, and here are a few ways to make the new normal feel a little more normal.
  1. Choose and limit news consumption. It’s easy to get swept up in the news, but schedule when you check it—maybe just in the morning or the evening. This will leave time to focus on other aspects of your life that you can control. Also, find positive news if you can that will lift your spirits.


  1. Accept your reactions, and observe your emotions. Your brain and body may be working overtime right now which means you could be exhibiting more signs of stress and anxiety. Your emotions might be mixed. Know that it is normal to have more than one reaction and that it may change during the day. Lament and acknowledging grief is both normal and necessary.


  1. Find a routine, and stick to it. Having a routine will help release stress because your brain knows what’s happening next. Set boundaries while working from home and take breaks throughout the day to help you separate work activities from home activities. Perhaps have a regular time for a fun activity that you can look forward to each day.


  1. Find activities to fill the time. You can increase your sense of control even more with activities that you can accomplish. It can be as small as organizing your wallet, making your bed, or re-organizing a room.


  1. Keep in touch with friends and loved ones. Now, more than ever, it is important to communicate regularly with your friends and your family. Schedule phone or video calls during the day just to catch up. Plus, it’ll be nice to hear a familiar voice or see a familiar face!


  1. Give yourself good advice. It’s not always the advice a therapist gives that has an impact. The advice that you choose to say to yourself also counts. Think about what advice you would give to a friend who is upset about the current situation, and then say it to yourself. You can alter your mindset by changing the words you use.


  1. Remember God is present. It may not seem like God is present during dark times, but God made the world around us and is an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 30:5 states, “weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” We have the hope and promise that the sun will rise again each morning although storm clouds may block us from seeing the sun.
Lastly, if you need/want to talk to someone regarding the “new normal” or any other aspect of your life, contact Laura Eichner, Ernie Klatt, or send us your contact information and we be in touch. Stephen Ministers are available to talk with you and to listen. They can connect with you via phone, video call, or in person at a safe distance. You do not have to be a Peace member to receive care from one of our Stephen Ministers.