Coping With a New Normal

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In light of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are having to cope with a variety of emotions – anger, fear, frustration and for some, a disbelief that it is all real. Because we are not seeing the effects close-up, as health professionals do, does not make it any less real. And it doesn’t make our emotions any less real either.

Having our movements restricted, whether it’s border closings or social distancing, is a new normal for most folks. We aren’t used to not being allowed to join with friends and family over a meal, if it means leaving our home. This is causing a disconnect with what we know to be true about our personal world, and the new picture that seems to be forced on us.

And while adults are having a challenge with this new normal, it can be even more confusing for our children. The younger the child, the less they are able to understand the situation. And because children are ultra-sensitive to the moods and emotions of the adults in their world, they react to how they think their caregivers are doing. Thus, it is vitally important that we provide mental and emotional support to them, while doing the same for ourselves. Calm reassurance goes a long way.

This new normal that we are living in, and for which there does not seem to be and end at the moment, can be frightening. But these also are times that bring out the best in the human experience. Neighborhood groups are offering “shopping expeditions” for those neighbors who cannot, or should not, get out. Museums around the world are opening up special online tours, and one only needs an internet connection to view these treasures. Education sites are providing downloadable puzzles and learning tools so that parents, who are now acting as teachers, have fun things to keep their younger children occupied during the day.

And there is one more thing, in addition to keeping our internal self-talk positive and under control, that will help fend off any possible depression – physical activity and exercise. So far, as long as we practice social distancing (six feet apart!), we can still go outside for a walk and it doesn’t stop us from waving at our neighbors. Gardening and yard work are excellent ways to burn off pent-up energy, and do something creative and life-giving, because it appears that trees and flowers are immune from the virus.

Keeping our emotional and social connections is vitally important, even at six feet away. Religious institutions are having services streamed online. Choirs are attempting to have rehearsals via video chat, to keep in touch with the music and with friends. With technology today, we can keep in touch with family members who are feeling isolated via phone, email or video chat. And it is all good for the soul.

Yes, it’s a new normal, but we have a golden opportunity to create what it looks like for ourselves.