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.
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.
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?