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The New Normal

Posted by Dr. Salandanan on May 27, 2020

Creating the “New Normal”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us had never heard of the concepts of “social distancing,” “flattening the curve,” or “shelter at home.” Now, these are common household concepts that have forced us to redefine our everyday living. There are special shopping hours for those at risk, we wear masks to the grocery store, our human connections are forged through a computer or cell phone camera lens, and we now know how vital handwashing is to our health.

All of these changes can take an emotional toll. Feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, grief/loss and social isolation are common. They are all valid emotions. And it’s OKAY to be overwhelmed by it all.

As COVID-19 restrictions are slowly being lifted, many of us are excited to go back to “normal.” However, this is also a historic time in which we can make a conscious choice to work through these emotions, tap into our own resilience and create what the “new normal” will look like.

While this pandemic has shown us that we lack control in many ways, it is important to focus on what we do have control over. What we can control is how we will structure our new reality, what we truly need to thrive and what we can let go of to improve our mental wellbeing.

Tips for Creating Your “New Normal”

Talk it out: We are social beings that were not meant to keep in stress. Reach out to friends, family and mental health providers to share your feelings and reduce isolation.

Spend time with others: You get to redefine who is considered family and friends. Let go of toxic relationships and set healthy boundaries that align with your mental health goals.

Self-care: Sometimes taking care of yourself means getting rest, pampering yourself or making time to exercise. But it can also mean letting go of judgement, journaling your inner experiences, prayer, getting artsy or going to therapy.

Avoid drugs and alcohol: Drugs and alcohol use is an avoidance strategy that only provides temporary relief, can mask underlying emotions and can lead to bigger problems. Commit to centering your “new normal” around healthy and more effective coping strategies.

Self-reflection: Take a moment every day to pause, breathe in deeply, and be present with yourself. We may be so excited to start doing that we accidently close the connection with what we need in any given moment. Ask yourself: How am I feeling? What am I doing well? What is challenging me? And what do I need right now?

Ask for help: If emotions are so intense, they are interfering with your quality of life then find a licensed therapist who can help you process and accept the “new normal.” Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but rather an indication that you want better for yourself. At Behavioral Medicine Associates, we are here to help you navigate these unprecedented times so that you can feel more grounded in the “new normal.”

Krystel Salandanan, Psy.D.