Written by Susan Herman, a woman with Turner Syndrome and volunteer blog post editor and translator with the Turner Syndrome Foundation. In a previous blog post, we examined coping with grief during the current pandemic, In this post, we examine how to deal with returning to the the new “normal.”
“In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.”Dave Hollis, CEO of the Hollis Company and author of Get Out of Your Own Way
After two months of quarantine, you may be feeling several different emotions: loneliness, frustration, exhaustion, anxiety. You may also be experiencing calm with not having to rush around every day, sit, in traffic, and fight crowds at the local mall. Maybe you feel more connected now with family and friends, with Zoom get-togethers and family dinners. Whatever your reality is, it’s been a lot to deal with, and we are all anxious to get back to our new “normal.” I have seen the above quote on Facebook several times, and it has really resonated with me and made me think: So what now? What are we going back to? How will our day-to-day life change once restrictions are gradually lifted? What do I want to change in my life? What have I learned during this time?
The Daily Grind
If you work outside the home, perhaps you have been doing telework. Many, unfortunately, have been laid off or have been forced to close their businesses. Because of my medical conditions and vulnerabilities, I have been extremely fortunate to be on administrative leave. For me, work had been very stressful, so not having to go into the office (albeit temporarily) has been a relief. It has made me evaluate my happiness with work and realize what is really important. I am now leaning towards early retirement. During this time, I have dedicated time to hobbies and activities that make me happy, like scrapbooking, card making, and brushing up on my Italian. I have also taken on this gig as a blog post editor and translator for TSF, which is very rewarding and, as a professional editor and linguist, is helping to maintain my skills.
The thing is, our society sometimes values work more than family, personal well-being, and physical health. Whatever your situation, take this time to evaluate what really makes you happy. If you find yourself looking for a new job or career, take the opportunity to take stock of your skills and experience and what really motivates you. As my husband always reminds me, “Work does not define you. You should work to live, not the other way around.” Admittedly, that is easier said than done, but this challenging time has forced me to do a lot of introspection about work.
What’s Important to You?
Besides work, the quarantine has offered all of us time to think about our family and other connections. Whether you live alone, with a partner, or with a large family, things have surely been turned upside-down. We have been forced to either spend more time alone or more time with others in often close quarters. One positive aspect of this experience I have noticed is that people are connecting more, whether it’s through weekly virtual family check-ins, online games, or drive-by birthday or graduation parades. I have been checking in with family and friends–especially elderly ones–more than before, and I plan to continue that after the quarantine.
What is important to you, and why? What relationships do you want to nurture? We all need each other, not just in the bad times, but also the good. Try making a list of the things that are important to you, and then notice what things are not on it; perhaps those are things you could let go or change when you return to your new “normal.”
Taking Care of Yourself
It’s an understatement to say that this pandemic has been difficult for people, in many different ways. Some have lost loved ones. Some have lost their livelihood. It can make one feel out of control. But one thing we have been able to control is how we take care of ourselves, both physically and mentally. Many people have continued or developed healthy habits during quarantine, now that they have more time on their hands to prepare meals themselves or exercise. And yes, some of us–ahem–have succumbed to quarantine snacking and binge-watching at times. And that’s OK. Whatever you’ve been able to do, however you’ve been able to manage, is an accomplishment. Find ways to be nice to and nurture yourself, and carry them forward in returning to the new “normal.”
Thank Goodness for Technology!
One positive aspect of the pandemic that I have noticed is the new uses of technology. People are learning to use online applications (even my 77-year-old mom!) to stay in touch. Many businesses, therapists, and medical providers are now offering telephonic or online appointments. Some companies and even government agencies are allowing more people to telework, saving employees time, money, and stress. And while online education has been inconsistent and imperfect, teachers and parents have banded together to do their best for their children.
Also, as a woman with Turner Syndrome, I have several medical issues for which I must see specialists. I have appreciated the online visits–when physical exams are not necessary–and even drive-through blood tests. It has been great not having to drive to the office, wait around a bunch of sick people, and still get the care I need. I hope that we can continue these practices after the quarantine.
Figuring Out Your New “Normal”
Given all of the factors mentioned above, returning to your new “normal” may take some time. It will be different for everyone. Remember to evaluate what is important to you, what you want to change, and what you want to let go. You don’t have to tackle it all at once. Start by thinking about one thing you could change about your “normal”; what would it be? And remember to lean on others during this time of uncertainty; you are not alone. We will make it through this difficult time and find our new path together!