Establishing Your New Normal - Life After a Pandemic

Guest Author: Professor Stephanie Dunn


The world has come to a halt. The pause button has been instituted, and we are not in control of when play will resume. This is of course causing much discomfort for many. There are so many concerns raised regarding our economy, education, the environment, health, and generally the overall well being of life on this planet. As I sit here gazing upon the grey light outside, I can’t help but feel a blanket of slate overwhelm my psyche. It is easy, and sometimes inevitable to be consumed by the weight that has been put on our existence. Nothing is normal, or at least not the normal we once embraced. I challenge though, that there is a new normal waiting to be created and experienced. 


I thought it fitting to share some insight on how to establish a new normal during times of change and uncertainty. So not to make the mistake of being the protagonist in this piece, I have shared links for you to explore.


What You Believe Proceeds

As the world around us slows down, and we have more time to sit with our thoughts, noticing our personal perspective is vital. If there is a place where you might have been stuck in the mud, or spinning your wheels, you might find time now to contemplate what your story is around a particular challenge. When we become intimately acquainted with our personal stories, or perspectives, we can intentionally attempt a different way of functioning. Susan Gregory Thomas et. al. writes in an article appearing on the Psychology Today website; “Our ability to make sense of, and create meaning from, memories define how we feel about ourselves and shapes the identity we create throughout our lives”. During this time of social distance, I wonder if we can also take time to distance ourselves from our challenges, so to discover improved ways of overcoming past, present, and future struggles.


Maybe the distance is exactly what we needed to grant time to author a new chapter of life. Here is a link to the article mentioned: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201605/rewrite-your-life.


Accept and Honor Your Feelings and Emotions

There are many pieces appearing on various social media platforms talking about the feelings of grief some are experiencing in response to the loss of normalcy caused by Covid-19. Weddings are being cancelled, vacations postponed, church services interrupted, and family and friends are disconnected. There is an expected amount of sadness that accompanies these losses fittingly described as grief. Ignoring those feelings, or allowing the emotion to consume your thoughts, will gravely affect your well-being. Loss is loss. It does not matter whether it be a person, place or thing. Acknowledging that your suffering cannot be measured or compared to another’s, validates your personal journey through this time of uncertainty.  What greater method of self-care than to have empathy and compassion for ourselves. It’s like putting your oxygen mask on first before assisting another. Spending some time giving love and support to ourselves throughout this slow down may just create a space for more deep and meaningful connections in the future when life begins again. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler so beautifully state; “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”


Here is an article speaking about collective grief from the New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/23/well/family/coronavirus-grief-loss.html


There is an enormous amount of strength gained from collective energy. May our state of existence be healed and repaired by the commitment of society to “flatten the curve”. Be well and stay safe. 

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