Adjusting to the new normal
In a matter of weeks, life as we know it has been turned upside down and we find ourselves living a ‘new normal’ that feels anything but normal. While the current lockdown won’t last forever, it’s difficult to predict when it will end, or what the world will look like once the pandemic has run its course. In the meantime, the best we can do is try to adapt to life as we now know it.
Adapting to change of the calibre we face can feel incredibly overwhelming. A helpful place to start is to limit the amount of time you spend reading the news. While it’s important to stay on top of the latest developments and to be aware of what is happening locally and internationally, it’s very easy to become consumed by the breaking facts and figures. And with so few good news stories out there right now, too much information can quickly start to impact your mental health. Try to check in on the world two or three times a day so that you’re able to clear some headspace for work and for caring for those you’re in lockdown with.
Put a schedule in place
While it’s not necessary to plan your day down to the last minute, it is important to retain a semblance of structure in your life. Try to model your day (as far as possible) on your previous routine. In other words, if you’re the kind of person who gets up at 6am to run, get up at the same time (or slightly later if you would have sat in traffic en route to work) and run around your garden if there’s space, or follow an exercise class online. If your work hours were 8am–5pm and you’re now working remotely, find a dedicated workspace and keep to the same hours, making sure that you take regular breaks and that you leave your desk at the end of your ‘workday’. Finally, resist the urge to stay in your pjs all day or to shower at 3pm. The idea is to try and keep your familiar routines in place as far as possible.
Take care of yourself
As important as it is to have structure in your life, it’s equally important to look after yourself during these extraordinary times. So, make sure that you eat well – include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and good quality protein in your diet – and resist the urge to turn to sugary treats to boost your mood when you’re feeling low. Keep exercising regularly – it’s important for weight control, improving your mood and boosting your energy levels, among other things – get enough sleep and take time to relax by reading a book, meditating or watching your favourite series.
Be kind to yourself
All change, even positive change like getting married, starting a new job or becoming a parent, requires a period of adjustment. With change like we’re currently experiencing, it may take some time before you find your rhythm in your new normal. Expect to have good days, where you achieve everything you set out to do, and bad days, where getting up and dressed feel like more than you can manage. Through it all, try to be gentle with yourself – this isn’t the time to be an overachiever – and lean on your family and friends for the emotional support you’re going to need.