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Navigating the ‘New Normal’

4th May 2020. This date is probably going to remain etched in our memories forever as the day our lives changed completely. Who would have imagined, at the beginning of the year, that the major highlight of 2020 would be a rapidly escalating global health crisis. The first lockdown garnered mixed reactions – some felt fearful and anxious about the virus, while others saw it as a surprise vacation. However, the subsequent extensions of this seemingly never-ending pandemic soon generated feelings of frustration and worry due to the numerous uncertainties it created – about exams and academics, jobs, businesses, finances, and even long-distance relationships!

And yet, as the weeks pass by, we are slowly adapting to new norms and practices. In the midst of these changing times, along with taking care of your physical health, caring for your mental and emotional health is equally important. Here are some tips that will help you adapt to the new normal while ensuring your psychological well-being.

Set a new routine: With the suddenly changed lifestyle, even our routines have become chaotic. Keeping a regular schedule can help you stay organized and feel like you are in control. Further, it will also help to regulate your sleep cycles which will make you feel rested and fresh!

Find a balance: Working from home has also ushered in new challenges in terms of maintaining work-life balance and avoiding burnout. The virtual world itself has engulfed us almost completely – be it lectures and classes, training, meetings, or even celebrating occasions and dating – everything is happening online. At such times, it is crucial that you disconnect and spend some time with yourself.

Practice self-care: It need not be luxurious pampering – even simple activities like quietly enjoying a cup of your favourite beverage, enjoying the rain from your window, or picking up a hobby or your favourite activity can help you unwind and relax.

Enjoy nature in any form: Being outdoors has become something of a rarity in the past few months. But being in touch with nature can have a very positive psychological impact – It could be by just standing at the window or in the terrace, or even being mindful of your surroundings and taking in the fresh air whenever you step out of the house.

Cope with emotions: It is natural and understandable to feel stressed, frustrated, worried, anxious, fearful, sad and a whole bunch of other emotions. Engage in activities that you find soothing, comforting or distracting. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, try calming your mind by breathing deeply and counting back from 10 to 1. You can also visualize an image or a “happy place” that you find to be serene and soothing.

Practice gratitude: Pay attention, savour and appreciate the small, good things around you. You can practice gratitude to yourself or even write a journal. Taking time to notice and reflect on the positives will make you will feel more alive, sleep better, and even experience more positive emotions.

Connect with others: The new social distancing norms have drastically changed the pattern of our social interactions. But this challenge can, in fact, be an opportunity to creatively connect virtually with not just friends and loved ones, but also diverse online communities and groups. Further, interacting with others can make you feel less isolated and even help you gain different perspectives.

The struggle of staying afloat in the flood of uncertainties and myriad emotions brought on by the pandemic is certainly not an easy one. But by choosing the path of resilience, we can focus on the present and on building the future. Because as C.S. Lewis once said, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending”.

Shreya Shah

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