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What do I do to prepare for 'Back to the Normal'?

Many of us are grappling with what the future holds for us. There is angst, fear, and hope about what returning back to our daily routines might look like. We made significant changes in our lives on an individual and social level. After the consistent adjustments, we are left with confusion about redefining the norm. I hear myself asking, ‘What does ‘normal’ even mean anymore?’

As businesses are opening up their doors again and employees are returning back to the office, no one can answer what the new future holds. Perhaps, normal is merely an emotion we are striving to recover, more than conformity of standards. COVID-19 changed a certain standard of life we felt safe and comfortable with, and we long to take back that comforting emotion of living in the normal.

Here are three emotional layers to process in recovering the normal.

The first layer is the loss of our past.

Many of us missed significant aspects of our lives in the last couple of months. Whether it is a celebration of sort or planned vacations and events, we are carrying a sense of loss. We may be missing the normal day to day activities of dinner plans, movie nights, and strolling down the beach. Whatever small or big plans you made, these memory-making moments have been taken away from us.

Grieve the past. With the busy days of adjustments, it is important to pause and count those missing pieces. Imagine and talk about what you could have been doing and express the sadness of the past pleasure being removed from you. Naming those losses can help you to feel a sense of ownership back into the missing pieces of your story. It’s only after you’ve recognized the loss that you can begin to work towards recovering them.

The second layer is our current fears of safety.

An invisible virus shook the world into crisis and fear. With the sudden response to fear, we stocked up our toiletries, were required to wear masks, got in line to get groceries, and obsessively sanitized everything we touched. We were devastatingly reminded of our fragile lives and feelings of helplessness. It seems that the new normal is going to require us to be more vigilant and proactive.

Breathe and take control. We all have different reactions to uncertainties and it can be helpful to take a moment and assess which aspects you can take control of. Some people will feel more comfortable carrying a hand sanitizer while others might want to wear gloves. Whatever your comfort level is, allow it to take form into an actionable plan. Create a plan for leaving and returning to the house and discuss what is important to you in feeling safe with your family members.

The last layer is the anticipation and confusion about our future.

The crisis has exacerbated our anxiety about the future and we will always have questions about what’s coming next in our life. Remember that feeling a bit confused about the future is normal. Using our current situation as a learning experience, reevaluate the priorities and values in your current life to plan for your future.

Accept that change will continue. In the face of uncertainty, change is inevitable. We have endured and conquered more things in life than we have ever expected and we will continue to. There is no doubt that the changes of the present and new plans for your future will need redirection later.

It is always in the little actions of your daily routines, and small acts of compassion towards self and our community that will continue to bring about the normal standard of living. As we grieve the past, breathe to take control of our current safety, and anticipate our future, remember that you are not alone. We, as a community have always thrived and will continue to support each other.

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