Adjusting to the “New Normal”

By Shoshana Levie, LCSW

Over the last five months, it seemed as though a large majority of conversations began with: “When this is all over, I can’t wait to…” or “I just want to get back to…” Given the considerable upheaval that the global pandemic has caused, it is completely normal that we have been fantasizing about a day when we will once again be able to go to the store, the office, or the salon without worrying about becoming sick. However, as the country begins to slowly reopen, we are faced with the “new normal.” We may not be trapped inside our homes 24/7, but we are also not free to live the type of lives we had prior to COVID-19. Masks are the newest hot accessory, social distancing is still required, and even a quick jaunt to CVS brings anxieties of exposure. Many of us face serious questions regarding the safety of in-person jobs, whether we should send children to newly reopened camps and schools, and whether it is safe to visit an elderly family member. 

As we begin adjusting to the “new normal” (which seems like it will be the norm until a safe vaccine is approved) how can we continue to keep ourselves mentally healthy and resilient? 

1. Keep your body healthy. We know that our mental health tends to suffer when we do not treat our bodies well. Easy snacking that work-from-home offers, coupled with gym closures, and the intense heat outside can make this even harder. Try and eat an overall healthy diet while aiming for 30-45 minutes of physical activity daily. An active body can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

2. Be mindful. Especially in the current climate, it can be easy to go down the “what-if” spiral of anxiety. If you start to notice yourself engaging in unproductive worry, take a few minutes to engage in a mindfulness activity, such as 5,4,3,2,1 (Click here for instructions).

3. Stay social. While we may not be able to see our friends and family how we would like, it is important to maintain social connection. Take time each week to schedule a phone, Zoom, or FaceTime call with others. Having the date penciled into your calendar will also give you something to look forward to. 

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