Coping with the New Normal

How to adapt to change and prioritize the things that truly matter 
By Claude Reyes

coping with the new normal
Be kind to yourself and the people around you while social distancing.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disturb and disrupt lives all over the world, we are all seeing a shift in our lifestyles as our days in quarantine drag on. The things that we used to take for granted—eating out, visiting family, hanging out with friends, and even just running errands—are now things that we either have to make do without or have to be extra cautious about. 

If you’re experiencing anxiety about this or find yourself unable to concentrate, you need not feel bad about it. We are all experiencing what mental health experts call “collective trauma”. We were, after all, just plucked out of our daily lives one day and told stay home, because going out and being in close contact with strangers—something we do every day—could get us and other people sick. 

It’s a strange turn of events, unprecedented for the majority of us who have not lived through a pandemic as deadly as this one. However, as long as there’s no vaccine in sight, we may have to accept that things have to change if we are to stay alive. Here are some ways to cope with the New Normal:

1. Give yourself time to adjust.

You don’t have to push yourself to be automatically adjusted. Adjusting takes time, and it may not be the same for you and your loved ones. Allow yourself and others this period. It’s a necessary step to your process of coping with the new normal, as it helps you acknowledge that what you’re going through, along with the rest of the world, is not normal.

2.  Give your loved ones time to adjust, too.

This adjustment period will look different for everybody—including the ones you’re quarantined with, and the loved ones who may be far away from you. Acknowledge that you will come into conflict because of what you are all going through, but don’t give up on them. They may be having a hard time adjusting to the new normal, too. Coping with the new normal involves having empathy and patience for the ones you love, even more so than before.

3.  Set a routine.

You will also benefit from setting a structure to your day—a new routine that incorporates time for yourself, for your loved ones, and for productivity. But you don’t have to be so hard on yourself with the structure. Just take it one day at a time and focus on what brings you joy and peace. 

4. Limit your exposure to news and social media.

Coping also means being informed. But that doesn’t mean you have to be on social media and reading up on everything 24/7. It’s good to be informed; it’s necessary. But you have to give yourself a break. We now know what’s required of us to survive this pandemic—social distancing, good hygiene, and strengthened immunity. Bombarding yourself with news day in and day out may not be good for your mental health. 

For now, it’s good to focus on this day, this hour, this minute, this moment—if it’s all your concentration will allow you to do. Be kind to yourself and the people around you, and little by little, you will find yourself having adjusted to the new normal because it’s just what we humans do.