At first, adjusting to “the new Covid-19 normal” of working from home, socialising over Zoom with family quiz nights and washing EVERYTHING that came into our home, felt alien. But over time we have gotten used to it and adapted to the change. We have learnt to work productively from home, create boundaries between work and home life, and socialise with friends and family in new ways.
I remember thinking that Covid-19, a global pandemic, just didn’t seem real. It felt as if we were all rehearsing our parts for Contagion-2, a fantasy remake of probably the most-watched film in 2020. Waiting for the cameras to start rolling, I think we all started to realise that this was really happening. The days at home turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months. Covid-19 has become something that was no longer just a noteworthy story in the paper, it was and is a real thing, with fatal consequences.
We have all had our parts to play in keeping each other safe, and part of that has meant turning our homes into offices and abandoning social activities for the comfort of our sofa’s and our gardens. As our environment has changed, so has our behaviour as we adapted to our miniature worlds.
It has been difficult, but we have managed it somehow. Being forced to stay at home has been a challenge for most, but we have become used to our mini-worlds and spending more time than normal with our family. Now, as the horizon begins to shift again as restrictions are relaxed or altered, our behaviour has to change once again. Only this time, we are going back into a world that is familiar, with very different rules.
It is this difference: going back to a world that has been our playground our entire lives that now has completely different rules of engagement, that is causing some people anxiety and stress. We are all waiting for things to go back to how they used to be, but while we make that transition, we have to make some changes that are completely against our normal nature.
Humans by nature, don’t like change. The primal brain associates change with the unknown and the unknown is scary. We have to start making the unknown familiar, comfortable and “normal” for us to shed our anxiety and begin to socialise again safely and with confidence once again.
I want to help you navigate this new landscape with some helpful tips on how to feel normal in this “new normal” and get back out there with confidence.
1. Be Prepared
Being prepared with a face mask and hand sanitiser (with at least 60% alcohol) will remove some of the stress and anxiety from a day out. Your brain is having to learn a new habit, so make it easy for yourself. Have comfortable and washable masks and hand sanitisers placed in your car, handbag, dresser and office space. Even have spare disposable masks available for any visitors that you might have so that you can remove stress from the situation.
2. Plan your Outings
I am definitely one for spontaneous outings, but in this new normal they will possibly add to your stress and anxiety. So, if wanting to eat out, make sure that you book a table in advance and know what rules and restrictions they have in place. If others are joining you, inform them of the rules so that they too are prepared. This goes for all types of outings involving indoor gatherings – call ahead to check new protocols.
3. Have Honest Communications
Everyone has different levels of risk tolerance. If you are feeling nervous about meeting up with friends or family, let them know about it. Asking them in advance to wear a mask and keep their distance can help curb awkward meetings or conversations.
4. Build your Confidence
If you are struggling to leave the house to meet friends or family, perhaps try making short planned trips out of your house each day to build your confidence. Take a walk to the shop at a time when it is not as busy, or have a quick cup of coffee on your own in your local cafe and get used to wearing a face-mask whilst standing in queues and walking around the shops.
5. Organise outside activities where possible
At the beginning of lockdown, many people were commenting on how at least the travel and gathering restrictions were getting people out of the house and into nature. Take advantage of the natural social distancing nature affords you and organise walks or picnics with your friends where it is easy to follow the rules and keep yourself save.
Our world as we knew it has changed and we are having to adapt to our “new normal” which hasn’t been easy but we will get through this together. Remember to wash your hands as often as you can, wear a mask when required and keep your distance. When you are prepared you can handle anything!