We are currently in a “new normal” as it has been called.
No question but that I’m missing—or really craving—hugging my family who live out of state, meeting my friends for tea or dinner, or even seeing my patients in my office.
What are you missing from the “old normal” in the new normal?
When speaking to many of my patients and clients by phone or computer, I always ask this question, and the surprising consensus seems to be that a number of changed habits are worth maintaining so that we can live richer lives even when the pandemic is past.
Here are 5 of the habits that I personally plan on changing for the long term.
1. Waking up in a rush. Before this “stay at home” order was put into effect, I was almost always on autopilot each morning. I would hit snooze as many times as I could on the alarm, go over a ton of emails on the phone, rush to the shower, throw on my clothes, and grab tea as I ran out the door feeling stressed. Whew!
New Habits: What I discovered during sheltering in place is the blossoming of a new, peaceful, calm morning routine that gives me time to breathe, reflect, and just start my day with a whole new feeling. My approach is now all about making the time to actually enjoy my cup of tea, to read something inspirational instead of emails, or even to simply sit and watch the birds out the window. I also have made time for an online gentle Pilates class three mornings a week so I can move more before I start the day. I’m keeping that in, too. Yes, I understand that when life begins to resume in some way, I will need to allow extra time for this valuable opening of the day, and I know the change will be worthwhile!
2. Socializing when I should have said “no. ” Have you ever found yourself saying yes to events after work when you really simply wanted to go home and relax? Maybe I said yes to invitations because I felt obligated to go, but truthfully, I was exhausted and I really only wanted to catch up on my favorite TV show, have a quiet dinner, and go to sleep early. Actually, my health depends on it.
New Habit: Moving forward, I must remind myself that it’s OK to say no gracefully. Chances are, I won’t offend the other person if I go about it in the right way. Maybe if I politely say, “I love spending time with you after work, but today I am exhausted and want to rest. I’m sure you understand, and I would love to go next time.” Then, I’m going to take the time I need for self-care and do what I need to do to refresh myself, so I’m recharged for the next day. Keeping myself on the front burner takes mindfulness so that I don’t become caught in the whirlpool of over-busyness, as has been my pattern.
3. Putting off connecting with loved ones. I have noticed that before these stay-at-home orders, many of us would go out to see friends and family occasionally or visit once or twice a year if they were further away—and that was OK for all of us. Now we make zoom calls and talk regularly and connect in many ways on a regular basis. This has helped us all to enhance our relationships and really make them stronger. I’ve even connected with dear friends whom I haven’t heard from in years, taking meaningful steps to rekindle our relationships.
New Habit: Once I can see people again, I’ll continue to set up weekly zoom calls or daily text check-ins with loved ones I don’t get to see as much. This will keep us connected and sharing love, even if it’s from a distance. I’m not going to procrastinate reaching out as before, armed with my new awareness of how precious every moment of life is and how quickly it goes by.
4. Constant Activities. If you look at anyone’s pre-pandemic schedule, I bet it had a ton of activities listed. Sports with the kids, date night, coffee with a friend, lunch with a colleague, parties, get-togethers, appointments, etc. Everyone always seemed to be hurrying from one place to another and putting so many commitments into the calendar that they—and I—weren’t saving any time for ourselves. Sometimes I felt that the more I was doing, the more successful that made me at life. Note to self: Most of it is a distraction from focusing on what’s important.
New Habit: As we now know, taking time for ourselves is key to happiness. I have come to understand that I don’t have to be rushing somewhere all the time, and many of the things I thought I had to do in person can be accomplished online in half the time—if at all—leaving more opportunity to do what I really want to do. Maybe you’ve started a new hobby or tried learning a new craft during the pandemic. You want to make sure you still have time to spend on that new thing you enjoy when life is “back to normal,” right? I’m looking at what I was committing to before and deciding what’s important to me, what makes me happy, and what I want to let go of. Now is the perfect time to let go of what no longer serves me.
5. Overbuying–everything. Shopping was always one of my favorite pastimes, but during this “pause,” I’ve gone on a buying pause as well. Whether it was food, clothes, or books, I wanted something new, fresh, and interesting. Many “bright, shiny objects” attracted my attention, and my habit was to check it all out. Now that the stores are closed, or shopping will be a different process, I’m taking a much-needed break, which I plan to continue. I don’t know if you had this bad habit as well but I’m finding a lot of great things to do that don’t require spending money.
Since we are in an uncertain time, I’m learning to conserve my resources, which has been wonderful. If you’re doing the same out of choice or necessity, I would love to hear how you are being creative and saving during this current climate…and if you plan to do this going forward as well.
I’m building resistance muscles, helped by staying at home, reduced income, and a lack of shopping venues right now. As a result, I feel that I’m over that “pull” and am finding value and enjoyment in what I already have—and believe me, I have plenty to choose from for a long lockdown in New York City. My bank account is happier, too.
Moving back into “normal” over time doesn’t mean I have to feel pressured into returning to how things were. This pandemic has been a worldwide awakening for me. Maybe it provides an opportunity, teaching us all to slow down, take time for ourselves, smell the roses, connect more deeply, and love more fully. We can change in as many ways as we like, and since each of us decides how we want to live our lives, I hope you choose to make this a life you love and that makes you happy.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss YOUR « new normal «. Let’s fine-tune together.