More businesses are beginning to reopen their doors, which means the “normal” activities you once enjoyed doing; going to the gym, dinning at a restaurant, or getting a haircut are starting to fill back into your weekly calendar.
After months of negative news circulating in the media, receiving an eblast or social media post that your favorite local hangout is back up and running post COVID-19 shutdown feels surreal for many of us. It’s a type of joy we all want to hold onto but maybe we still feel a bit hesitant to accept it completely. Thoughts of “what if businesses have to close again?” “what if I get sick going outside?”, or “what if I unknowingly get someone else sick?” can consume us or make us think twice about venturing out and getting social again.
Getting Comfortable with Our New Normal
Even if you’re ready to resume those activities that have been shut down these past few months, you might still feel a little unsure as to how to go about them. There’s a whole new set of guidelines that we now need to follow to help us practice safe social distancing and protect our health and the wellness of our community.
It seems no matter where you go, you encounter an array of signage displaying commands; keep six feet apart, do not exceed maximum capacity, or wait here, stand there, and wear your mask at all times! This insistent set of new rules and information can be overwhelming and may lead to feelings of heightened stress and anxiety. So, how do you cope with these new stress triggers and still find enjoyment in the activities you love doing?
Get the Facts: Knowledge is a powerful tool. The more you understand, the more confident you will feel about your decisions. With gyms and fitness centers reopening, you may be eager to get back into a health and fitness routine. Before heading into the facility, check out their website and social media channels to learn more about the changes they have implemented, and the policies they have put in place, to ensure your health and safety.
- Expect Change: As gyms will need to keep their members six feet apart, it’s likely some machines will be blocked off or removed to prevent crowding. There’s also the issue of new capacity limits, so your gym may request that you schedule times to come in for a workout.
- Ask Questions: Read up on all the information you can to understand the new policies in place. If you have questions, give the business a call. Remember that these new policies are different for the company, too, especially its team members, so don’t be afraid to ask for better clarity if instructions seem confusing or vague. This will actually help the business recognize whether or not it’s keeping members informed and will lead them to improve their communication if needed.
Take Small Steps Forward: Now that most businesses have reopened, you might be eager to visit your favorite shops and restaurants in an effort to support local businesses. But frequenting all the places you haven’t visited in months can be costly and a time-consuming commitment.
- Plan Ahead: Rather than trying to hit every place on your list, why not plan to visit a favorite brewpub, boutique, restaurant, or entertainment venue once a week. This gives you something fun to look forward to and helps you ease slowly into the New Normal. It’s also a great opportunity to start slowly gathering with friends or family you haven’t seen in person for a while. As most reservations only permit 4-6 people at a time, you can use this weekly gathering to surround yourself with small groups of people to catch up on their lives while also supporting local businesses.
- Remain Flexible and Adaptable: Certain activities, such as shopping or going to the hair salon, now require the constant use of a facial mask. This is a new adjustment for many of us, and it can feel restricting, uncomfortable, and invasive.
Remember to Focus on the Positive: We’re all in this together, which means many of us are feeling the same level of discomfort with all of the new restrictions. Just speaking to someone through a mask is a completely new experience and requires more patience and understanding. Wearing a mask for an extended period of time while shopping may be uncomfortable; it’s hot, it can be hard to breathe, but it’s a new necessity that we will have to learn to adjust to for the foreseeable future. Some suggested tips include:
- Think Positive: Try saying “I’m going to make this work” vs. “I’m never going to be able to wear this”
- Practice at Home: Ease into wearing a mask at home while watching TV or doing housework. Work your way up to longer periods of time each day and be kind to yourself as your body adjusts to the mask. This may help you feel more comfortable before you venture out for an extended shopping excursion.
- Be Creative: If your current mask is not comfortable, consider an alternative. You may want to explore using a bandana, a scarf, or a gator-type mask like a balaclava.
Be Kind and Practice Acceptance: Allow yourself time to adjust and create a new routine, while accepting the fact that everyone is trying to adapt to the New Normal right now.
- Adjust Your Expectations: Not everyone will be at the same level of acceptance or readiness to resume normal activities. Give space and support to those who are struggling with the new guidelines.
- Let Go of Worry and Shame: Try not to focus on what others may or may not be doing. Don’t judge those who are not able to wear a mask or resume social activities at this time. If you assume that everyone is living their life to the best of their abilities, you will experience more empathy and understanding and less internal unrest.
Stay Connected with The Calli Institute
Thank you for reading part II of our “Defining our Normal” series. Our goal is to provide you with effective coping mechanisms to help you reset and refocus on encouraging positive change amid our New Normal surroundings.
Our team is here to support you and your loved ones during this time of transition. If you’d like to schedule an in-person or virtual consultation to discuss your concerns, anxiety, or frustrations, we’re here to help! Contact us today for more information and stay connected to our blog and ongoing series for more support and resources!