Adapting to the New Normal lifestyle

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As we enter the next phase of the pandemic and restrictions ease, people and businesses are looking for ways to return to a new normal. PHOTO: PHoe Khwar

Since the early days of the outbreak of the Coronavirus disease, the term “New Normal”, which I must admit that I have never heard before, became frequently used in relation to life after the COVID-19 pandemic. In the beginning I simply thought that washing the hands, wearing the mask, avoiding crowds, social distancing, working from home, E-learning, marketing and shopping online and staying home more, are the things we must observe in the New Normal way of life.
As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers on, with no end in sight, this term is getting more popular. Thus I made some hasty research on it. According to the Wikipedia, a New Normal is a state to which an economy, society, etc. settles following a crisis, and differs from the situation that prevailed prior to the the crisis. The term first emerged in 2007-2008 in relation to the financial crisis of that period. It was again applied to the aftermath of the 2008–2012 global recession, and now to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coming to know the exact meaning of the New Normal after acquiring some knowledge from my ad hoc research, I realized that it encompasses a wider range of aspects of life and is more complicated. Anyway, as we are destined to lead New Normal lifestyles, we should at least know what they are.
Although according to the Wikipedia’s definition, the New Normal will be a state of the economy, society, etc. in the aftermath of a crisis that differs from what we are used to, not every aspect of our lifestyles may need to be changed. However, some of the most important things that are related to the control and the prevention of another outbreak of such proportion as the one we are facing currently should be strictly observed.
To be able to understand and to appreciate what a New Normal lifestyle will be like, one needs to know thoroughly the old normal ways of life that we have been accustomed to. The old normal ways of life may not be the same for every person, because different persons have different ways of life and hobbies. Thus for the purpose of this discussion, we should be focusing on those that had unavoidably been forced or being necessitated to change due to the pandemic. These New Normal lifestyle may prevent us from another disaster like the one we are enduring now.
One thing is certain, we know that adjusting to change can be challenging — be it planned or unplanned, gradual or sudden, change is inevitable. Over the past few months, we’ve experienced an unprecedented shift in our way of life due to COVID-19. Before the pandemic, who would’ve thought that in certain western countries, toilet paper could become as precious as gold! Today, a trip to do a weekly grocery shopping seems like an adventure of its own. Before we know it, we’ve reluctantly let go of our old normal and now settling into what seems to be our New Normal. Now, let’s have a glimpse of what the new normal life will be like.

The way of life will be different
Masks and gloves may still be commonplace after the pandemic is over. Queuing will become the norm, be it when visiting health professionals, going to the shops, getting on the public transports or even getting in a lift. Public transport will look very different, with social distancing in place and commuters wearing masks and gloves. We will still be super cautious when we hear someone cough, sneeze, or sniffle, but hopefully this might also mean that higher standards of hand and personal hygiene will continue. Lesser vacationing to far away or foreign places, where there might be crowds. Lesser social gatherings, such as lounging at pubs, bars and night clubs. Spending less time at cafes or tea shops in our case, as tea shop lounging has become a national pastime (even serving tea at the shops are now restricted to be only takeaways, some diehard tea shop customers are still seen sneaking into some shops to spent their time there).

The way we study or work will be changed
Education as we know are changing in some countries. Schools and universities have moved online, some blending face-to-face with online lectures. Universities around the world are feeling the impact from the absence of International Students. Conferences will be paused, and international collaborations and sabbaticals now look very different to previous years.
Work has also changed due to social distancing. So many of us shifted to working from home to minimise travelling on public transport and gathering in groups at the office. Zoom meetings even became our New Normal. When restrictions ease, we may cautiously rotate back into working at the office in shifts, or embrace working from home on a more regular basis.
The way we socialize and connect will become different
No more packing in large crowds when we all need to have a personal space of over a metre. We have been forced to stay away from attending concerts, plays, movies, festivals, sport events, gyms, etc., but hopefully will be able to return soon with some sort of restrictions.
During the pandemic we’re staying away as much as possible from elderly parents and grandparents or those with health conditions that render them more vulnerable to coronavirus, for their safety. In a time when it’s more important than ever to stay connected, this can be particularly challenging for all. With travel restrictions in place and unlikely to lift for the foreseeable future, families and loved ones are being kept apart and having to make do with online catch ups.
Gone are the days of greeting friends and extended relatives with handshakes and hugs. Friendly gestures like these are now being curbed, to be replaced by elbow bumps and foot-shakes, or waves from a safe distance. The way we dine out has changed. Many restaurants and cafes may only be serving takeaways at the moment, but even when they reopen for us to dine-in there will likely be restrictions as to how many are able to dine-in, social distancing will be still in place.

Adapting to the New Normal way of life
The aforementioned list includes only the most common or relevant new ways of life that we may have to encounter under the New Normal conditions. There may be many more as far as your imagination can wander, but for the purpose of this article these will be enough. So how can we ease into or adapt to this new way of living? The followings are some tips to help you adjust to the New Normal:-
Create a routine. Having a routine can help create some sense of normalcy during the time of chaos, so get creative so that you can continue on in some way.
Write your experience. Writing about your experience — be it your thoughts, feelings, what you’ve done, anything — can be quite therapeutic and a great chronicle to look back on long after COVID-19 has passed.
Create a space inside your space. With much of your life now happening in the confines of your home, having a designated space at home to work or study or write can help separate work and play.
Stay connected in new ways. Social distancing does not mean social disconnecting , even if it feels easier to hibernate until this is all over. In the New Normal you can still connect with family and friends — of course in different ways.
Create and find pockets of joy. The New Normal can be challenging at times, so celebrate anything that puts a smile on your face. We don’t always need “major” events to happen to make us feel happy. Smaller moments of joy all add up.
Give yourself a break. We should take one moment at a time. We may not know what the next minute, or even the next hour, will bring. Set yourself a realistic goal and allow yourself to adjust it when you need to. Remind yourself that we’re currently living in extraordinary times and anything can happen any moment.
Stay informed not alarmed. As we adjust to our New Normal, it’s helpful to keep an eye on the news related to COVID-19 and the ongoing updates regarding what you are and are not allowed to do. However, tuning in to every single development can become overwhelming.

Last but not least be gentle and be kind to yourself. Give yourself the space and time to grieve, to celebrate, and to feel every emotion in between, during this challenging time. We are living in a situation that never happened before — at least in our lifetime, and it is impacting each and everyone of us in a unique way. There will be denial, anger, maybe even depression and acceptance, as we adjust to our New Normal. But it’s important to give yourself time to grieve what you have lost. Words of advice: stay focused, stay positive, and you will eventually overcome the challenges and get well adapted to the New Normal ways of life.
Article by Dr Emilita Cornain –

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