The Challenge of Finding a ‘New Normal’

Are you up to the challenge of finding a ‘new normal’ as you cope with the changes brought by the pandemic? It’s a challenge for me!

I relaxed a bit during the summer.  I worried less.  I enjoyed the occasional foray into the community that reminded me of life before March 2020.

As colder weather approaches in Canada, I need to evaluate how to socialize once outdoor gatherings are more difficult. I won’t be eager to meet friends for coffee in the park nor attend book club meetings in someone’s backyard when the temperatures drop. Gone are happy hour meetups while distancing on someone’s deck. And, given that we are experiencing a ferocious second wave of the pandemic in Ontario, I won’t take the risk of socializing on a heated patio to have a restaurant meal or a drink.

I have no idea how the next few months will unfold. Hence, it’s time to make a plan for coping with the ‘new normal’ during the next months.

Things will never be the same

It’s certain that things will be different this winter. Nobody can go back to acting as though no threat exists.

man in black shirt wearing white face mask
The challenge of finding a new normal — wearing a mask! photo by Phinehas Adams on Unsplash

In Ontario where I live, it is mandatory to wear a mask when in an indoor public space. Young or old, rich or poor, masks are mandatory.  And, most people adhere to the policy without complaint.

The New Normal -- photo by DICSON on Unsplashbrown and black round happy st patricks day round decor
The challenge of finding a New Normal — physical distancing! photo by DICSON on Unsplash

Likewise, most people respect the recommended physical distancing. Walkers move sideways when encountering others on sidewalks or walking trails.  Children remind each other to give space; they measure distance as the length of a pool noodle!

Random social gatherings are in the past. For those of us who are older or have underlying medical issues know going to a gym, to a church/synagogue/mosque, or to a yoga studio is not recommended. The same applies to indoor restaurant meals.

The way we travel and how we think about travelling is different.  Canadian snowbirds aren’t planning winter holidays to sunny places as borders are closed and travel advisories abound. Theatre performances and live sporting events are cancelled. Routine medical appointments happen virtually. Hopefully, there won’t be a complete shutdown of businesses nor another lockdown of citizens. I worry that many businesses, especially restaurants, may not survive as people eat at home, exercise outdoors, attend zoom yoga classes and skip religious services.

Losses are Challenging

As a coping strategy, it’s important to identify the losses we have experienced.  Many have lost jobs thus having their economic security threatened as well as their self-esteem. Others worry that their employment may be in jeopardy as countries move into recession. Parents struggle with decisions about school attendance or remote learning options. Many small businesses have closed or find their viability under threat.

The shopping experience has changed as most shopping happens online. An afternoon of browsing through the stores in a mall is gone — possibly forever! Malls may not exist in the form we have known them.  We go in and out of stores quickly  — and, only for essential errands.

People are afraid of many forms of travel. It will be sometime before many of us are comfortable taking any form of public transportation.  It’s difficult not to have lingering fears about boarding planes, trains, city buses, or subways.  Cruises are on hold through 2020 and many are cancelling 2021 sailings.

There is also a loss of anonymity and privacy with more types of public surveillance in place.  Temperature checks are routine at many establishments. Canada is urging everyone to download the COVID app to receive an alert if contact with someone infected with the virus has occurred.  Contact tracking and tracing protocols at many restaurants require leaving names and cell phone numbers.

Find Positive Changes in Your New Normal

While the new normal is a challenge, it is also an opportunity to forge a new lifestyle.  I’m focusing on how to change expectations and adopt new habits. But,  I’m not about to add to my pandemic stress by making drastic lifestyle changes.  I know myself well enough to understand that this is a time for ‘getting through’ rather than flourishing.

I remember the on-going time stress that I felt when I over-scheduled myself and experienced weeks of rushing around. This dissatisfying aspect of life has changed and I’m learning to enjoy a slower pace. Instead, I schedule ‘safe’ activities that I can look forward to such as occasional dinners with our small family, zoom calls with book club buddies, online bridge games, and outdoor meetups to walk with friends.

My abbreviated social life is an opportunity for personal growth. My challenge with the new normal is to use this time to build compassion, seek opportunities for kindness, and build a store of resilience.

Finally, I accept that the COVID re-set will likely take months — possibly a year or two.  Everyone is affected. Everyone faces the challenge of finding a new normal. Our responses may be different — but everyone must find a way to deal with the stress and uncertainty while remaining safe.

Thanks for reading my post.  I’m interested in your comments. How have you have met the challenge of adapting to the new normal?


6 Replies to “The Challenge of Finding a ‘New Normal’”

  1. Thanks Jeanette,
    That’s all very interesting. With all our different States, we have different border requirements. We are excited to soon fly down to Canberra (Australian Capital Territory) at last to see our family, including our 3 Grandchildren. We don’t have to to self isolate when we return – we hope! Like you – all that is required to do so is a risk we are prepared to take. We aren’t taking what we consider less important excursions though.

    Stay well.


    1. Visiting grand-children is a risk worth taking! Almost every interaction with others involves some level of risk. Yet, when we consider that the only true possessions we own are the relationships with family and close friends, keeping these connections is a priority. Bon Voyage!

  2. Hi Jeanette,

    Yet another fantastic blog. Like the previous reply I too always enjoy reading your very well written articles. Although I live far-away, much of what you wrote applies – socially, mentally and even the weather. Socialising outside in Brisbane’s upcoming hot humid summers will present challenges also! I also aim to take on board your aim to get through the pandemic with a positive attitude.

    Many thanks,

    1. Hello Janet,
      Getting through is a goal for each of us. We have just returned home after celebrating the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend at our cottage with our son, daughter-in-law and our two grandchildren. We ignored the Premier of Ontario who urged people to celebrate only with those in the household. Our son’s family is not part of our household in the strictest sense but they have been coming to the lake all summer to stay with us on weekends. Our son works at the local university where there has been virus spread. To ensure that everyone in the family was safe, he got tested before their arrival and was negative. We took our food and liquor from home so that we would not need to go to local stores. This pandemic creates so much risk and uncertainty but we must find ways to get through! Stay well and enjoy your summer! Jeanette aka postworksavvy

  3. I always enjoy reading your posts. They are always well written and thought provoking. While I enjoy people very much, part of me is an introvert, and I enjoy my alone time. I enjoy my creative projects – my writing, my dollhouse, my crafts, reading. I’ve been trying to find new recipes, use my newer Kitchen Aid mixer – which is somewhat intimidating to me. We do take a walk most evenings after dinner. It’s not unusual for us to stop and chat with several of our neighbors. And we travel in our travel trailer, staying distant and safe, and enjoying outdoor hikes. I can see how winter in Canada during a pandemic will be challenging. I hope you get through it and do flourish, even though getting through it is all that counts. Good luck, and I hope you enjoy this day.

    1. You seem to have met the challenge of finding a new normal with many creative projects, interesting activities and travel while staying safe in your travel trailer. You are fortunate to live in a place with a moderate climate that allows regular outdoor exercise.
      As I wrote in my post, I’m determined to get through the pandemic with a positive attitude. Canadian winters can be challenging even when participating in social events. I know that I will miss my regular trips to the gym for aquafit and strength training. I’ll miss the exercise but, more than that, I’ll miss the daily contact with many interesting women. This winter, I’ll invest in good walking boots and keep up my daily walks — even when the temperature plummets!

I welcome feedback and will reply to your comments!

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