As the rate of COVID-19 cases has begun to decrease and the number of vaccinated individuals continues to rise, many are heading back out into the world. We’re unsure of what to expect and what lies ahead. We are now being forced to reevaluate every aspect of our daily lives. To begin adjusting to a post-pandemic society, while still navigating through the pandemic. We are being forced into a “new normal”. But, what exactly does this “new normal” look like?
“As the country begins to open up it is time to ponder the idea of what ‘new normal’ might mean. One of the unspoken topics of the pandemic is how it was actually helping some people re-evaluate the things that are important to them. Some people are being required to go back to their offices and continue what was, others are attempting to negotiate for more of ‘what is and still, others are really looking to create something new or continue on the journey they have forged over the past year. No matter what side of the conversation you are on, it is time to unpack what ‘new normal’ means for you,” says Dr. Teralyn Sell, psychotherapist, and brain health expert. We asked Dr. Teralyn Sell for their top two tips on how you can establish a “new normal” while keeping your mental health a priority.
How to Dive Into the “New Normal” While Safeguarding Your Mental Health
Before you jump back into ‘what was’ pre-pandemic, take inventory of the things that we’re working on for you during the pandemic. I like the analogy of the frog in the boiling pot of water. Pre-pandemic many of us were quite comfortable living in the discomfort of the boiling water. Once we were taken out of the water we then realized how uncomfortable it actually was. Now, we are jumping back into the boiling water as if it isn’t boiling.
This is a great time to unpack the things that you may have enjoyed during the pandemic and move in those directions. Perhaps you really liked the freedom of not commuting so you were home for meals with your family. Evaluate what is important to you, time with loved ones is likely on top of the list. Often our mental health suffers when we continue to live in discomfort. You may experience more depression, anxiety, and sleep-related problems. That is why it is important to begin your evaluation of what parts of the ‘new normal’ you absolutely need to protect and what you can leave behind.
You can also stablish healthy habits one micro habit at a time. For some of us, we have gathered some unhealthy habits during the pandemic. Perhaps hygiene was slipping, or not dressing properly daily, or not exercising. More than ever, the time is now to evaluate some of the negative habits we have developed and start replacing them with new, healthier ones. Don’t try to tackle all habits at once. Instead set a micro goal and master that. Then habit stack positive habits around that micro habit. Healthy and unhealthy habits play a large role in our mental health. However, habits are tough unless we establish an awareness of what we are doing in the first place. That is why before you start something new, evaluate your day from start to finish and find a time of day that makes sense to you to start something new.
What to Avoid
When creating your “new normal”, avoid the pitfalls of perfection. The idea is to do something new more often than not. However, we tend to do the all-or-nothing idea here. If we aren’t perfect, it isn’t worth that sort of thinking. Look to create trends that more often than not, the new habit is completed instead of looking for perfection. Have realistic expectations of yourself. For instance, if your new goal is to go for a walk every day, think of the time of day that you are at your best and put the walk in there. If you are not a morning person, don’t set your alarm for early dawn to fit it in because you will likely hit the snooze on day 3. Instead, look for the time of day that you could easily fit in the walk and start there instead.