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Embracing the new normal

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“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed and will continue to change the world and the way we work, rest and play.” Mark Pringle – Pharma Field1

I remember that first sip of my ‘Frostino’ when Costa first reopened during lockdown. It tasted even better than I had remembered! I enjoyed every last gulp thinking that I would never again take for granted the little things in life, wanting so much for normality to come back soon.

But we know now that getting back to normality following Covid-19 may take some time. ‘Social distancing’ is not going away any time soon, so we need to think of it as a ‘new normal’.

As a single parent, you might have experienced a situation where you had to adjust to a ‘new normal’ before.  Maybe it was a bereavement or a relationship breakdown. Maybe you adopted a child and they turned your world upside down overnight. When our ‘normal’ way of life suddenly changes, there’s always an adjustment period before things settle into a ‘new normal.’ Remember those evenings in the beginning, when everything looked and felt different? Then remember that you got through it!

In some ways the changes 2020 has forced on us are not much different to that. Some have said that the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 is the hardest thing to handle. No one knows what the future will look like. Today as we face yet again another ‘new normal’, we can either embrace it and adjust or dig our heels in and stubbornly fight it, wishing things the way they used to be. Fighting it really won’t be helpful or productive. We’ve one step ahead of others – we’ve done this before and survived, we can do it again!

If we can find a way to embrace, adjust and even become creative in it, we will get through the storm a lot better. Many schools, colleges and universities have embraced their ‘new normal’ through the summer term. Many have been busy innovating and launching new virtual teaching and learning methods. Churches have offered bible studies on Zoom and online Sunday services. A friend of mine was so adamant that lockdown wouldn’t spoil his birthday that he had a virtual murder mystery evening with friends. Embracing, creating and having fun: this can be our ‘new normal’.

Some of us continue to struggle with change. We can’t change the circumstances we find ourselves in, but we can control how we respond to it. Here are some top tips2:

  • Take it one step at a time and don’t expect too much of yourself too quickly. Work on obstacles at your own pace.
  • Get back into some form of routine, a bit at a time. Spread things out by having a phased return to ‘normal life’
  • If you’re nervous, leave the house for an hour each day to get out and about and get used to being out in public again.
  • If you don’t feel confident about returning to your workplace, talk to your manager and let them know how you are feeling.
  • Continue to adhere to the most recent government guidelines on social distancing and travel.
  • Put in place a plan to continue to work through any anxiety you may be experiencing. Talk to trusted friends and family members about how you are feeling about things. Don’t bottle stuff up.
  • If you feel overwhelmed, step away from social media and limit what you watch online.

Dealing with anxiety

Anxiety UK suggests practising the “APPLE” technique to deal with anxiety and worries.3

  • Acknowledge:  Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
  • Pause:  Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Pause and breathe.
  • Pull back:  Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
  • Let go:  Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
  • Explore:  Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.
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We may not be able to embrace each other as we once did, but we can choose to embrace our ‘new normal’ and start working towards it today. We have the opportunity to use our past experiences to help us be strong and courageous as we move forward into the unknown future.

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At Care for the Family we support couples, parents and those who have been bereaved. If you would be able to make a one off donation to support our work, we would be very grateful. Thank you.