Adjusting to the new "normal" of pandemic life
Updated: Jun 9, 2020
I'm sure most of you have found yourselves in a similar situation to myself as news of COVID-19 entering the US hit. I remember feeling shocked, confused, scared, helpless, anxious, and angry, with these emotions resurfacing as each day began and ended for the first several weeks. I kept asking myself, "What does this mean for me and my family?", "How long is this going to last?", "When will they discover a treatment option and vaccine?", "Is it safe for me to ___________ (insert event, activity, etc.)?"
I soon learned I am one of the high risk groups based on my medical status, and this information sent me into another spiral of confusion, fear, and helplessness. I bet several of you also learned of this information and experienced similar emotional trajectories. These are very difficult times, and most of the people I have talked to have shared these concerns and have been following the news and medical fields closely for helpful information about how to best avoid becoming ill or spreading any potential illness to others.
It doesn't appear that this situation is going to resolve itself anytime soon, and there is a possibility being reported by medical and infectious disease experts that COVID-19 could remain a part of our lives, recurring year similar to influenza. Again, this information is anything but reassuring, and noting the number of deaths that are attributed to this virus and how easily it is reported to spread, I found myself feeling afraid and rather depressed. It's only been a few months, and I am already struggling with cabin fever and loneliness from socially isolating myself and largely cutting off contact with my friends and colleagues. I'm left to seek human contact and interaction with my husband and our three dogs, and while I love and appreciate these parts of my life, even as an introvert I am deeply missing my friends and professional support system.
So, how are we to adjust to this "new normal" that appears to mean wearing masks if we are in public, remaining at least 6 feet away from others, limiting if not fully avoiding social gatherings or contact outside of our household, and basically changing the very nature of how we live and work? One day at a time. One hour at a time when needed. By seeking support from our friends, colleagues, and family via phone calls, texts, messages, video calls, letters, postcards, gifts, etc. By checking in on our neighbors and offering support in a safe and collectively conscious way. By protecting ourselves and our friends, families, colleagues, clients, children, neighbors, and strangers from the spread of disease, even if we are not showing symptoms. By being a basic human being with kindness, compassion, humility, courage, and awareness of the impact we have on those around us. And by making sacrifices as we need to in order to protect and preserve the health and well-being of ourselves and our fellow citizens. These things are not new- but we have become complacent and have to reconfigure how to translate these values and ideals in today's circumstances.
Things will change. Things have changed. We will be forever changed, and the story will continue on for many of us. Grief, disease, and disruption of our daily lives is the new normal. But we are capable of meeting this new phase of challenges head on and maintaining our integrity and humanness, it may just take more effort and more time to heal in this new normal.