Who would have thought that over 40 days ago you were told you would have to shelter-in-place? To avoid being infected with the virus, you would have to work-from-home, homeschool your children and stay away from loved ones.
That announcement, and the days that followed, were scary. But you survived.
To stay healthy and safe, you’ve also adapted to washing your hands for 20 seconds, wearing a mask and gloves in public, and staying 6 feet away from any person near you who doesn’t live in your household. But you adapted
Now our country and the world are slowly moving from being sheltered-in-place to reopening. So people now have many questions like:
- How will it be when I go out to dinner?
- What will work look like when we all need to be there?
- How will the schools make sure my children (pre-k to College) are going to be safe and enforce distancing?
- How will they keep the schools clean?
- When will I feel safe enough to let my guard down?
- When can I relax and enjoy a nice day in public without worrying who might have the virus?
- How can I find a job quickly to pay my bills?
You may also be looking for answers to some of these questions. And, in times like these, though leaders around the world may have some of the answers, it may not reduce your anxiety or stress.
So what can you do to help yourself be emotionally and mentally ready for this new normal as you emerge from the shelter-in-place?
Stay Focused To Maintain Your Well-being
To help us emerge from our shelter-in-place to our new normal, I believe we need to focus on three key areas: emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Individually, each one is good, but to optimize our wellness we need to focus on all three in combination.
As a wellness advisor who specializes in thoughts, habits, and behaviors, I feel strongly about emotional and mental health. This involves taking care of our minds by managing how our minds process experiences. Our reactions to how we are coping with stress and anxiety have been very revealing in how we cope with the stress and anxiety of this pandemic.
In straightforward terms: It has been very hard.
Tools To Support Your Mental Health
Many of us didn’t have the tools to support ourselves emotionally or mentally, because this whole pandemic took us by surprise.
I have read, watched, and heard how many people are under tremendous stress, constantly anxious, and gaining weight (aka “the Covid-19”).
The weight gain isn’t surprising because for some people, comfort foods became one way to handle the stress, uncertainty, and fear of the coronavirus.
But people quickly started noticing that their comfort foods weren’t helping like before. Why is that?
Well, since so many things were being thrown at us at once, we didn’t have time to respond to our feelings. Instead, we had to move straight into survival mode. We had to buy enough food, toilet paper, paper towels, and disinfectant wipes for our family to last several weeks..
So our comfort foods were providing the comfort we needed during this time. As we stayed indoors without external distractions, we started evaluating our situation and we didn’t know how to manage our feelings.
Since we are still in this process of uncomfortable feelings,most of us haven’t really thought about helping our emotional and mental wellness through this shelter-in-place. Physical fitness has been the main focus for reducing stress. And though that is a key element, it is not the whole solution.
For me, it’s not enough just to make it through this pandemic. It’s not enough just to hold on until it is over.
My goal for you is to be better on the other side of it, to have evolved, to have grown.
Tools To Help You Map Out Your New Normal
So, I’m going to teach you some tips on how to come out of this better than you went into it.. To be successful we must have a map of how to become more emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy.
This is a three-part blog to provide you effective approaches and tools to utilize right now.
Let’s begin with emotional wellness
Emotional wellness involves being aware, understanding, and accepting of our feelings. Though these are some of the processes of emotional wellness, it is not the heart of it.
Let’s think of emotional wellness as a cookie. Butter, sugar, flour and other ingredients are crucial when making a warm, chewy cookie, but they aren’t a treat by themselves. They need to be together. So here are a couple of the ingredients that are essential for your emotional wellness recipe:
- Accept your feelings: We have a wide range of feelings. Emotional wellness doesn’t mean we only accept good feelings, or ignore the bad ones. Let yourself feel all your emotions without judgement but more with compassion and curiosity.
When you are slowly going back to work or school and juggling your current responsibilities along with the new protocols of being healthy, this could be very taxing on you emotionally.
So, allow yourself to feel the emotions rather than push them away. By paying attention to them you are reducing their sting because you are not fighting or resisting them.
It may be hard in the beginning since you may not be used to this, but it will get better. Here is an example of how to approach this: “I know I am angry right now and it’s okay, this will pass.” Then, take a couple deep breaths to help reduce your stress level. Repeat it if you need to.
- Laugh: Humor is a powerful tool that is easily overlooked when it comes to improving your emotional wellness.
Here are some specific things laughter can do:
- strengthen your immune system (physical well-being),
- boost your mood,
- inspire hope (mental well-being),
- lighten your burden,
- release anger and forgive sooner.
Finding something amusing in a tough situation shifts your emotions. An easy way to enjoy some laughter? Watch videos of famous comedians. When I need a laugh, I like to watch America’s Funniest Videos.
As you start developing your new perspective, consider adding more humor to your day. This is such a great emotional health booster.
New Normal Means New Approaches
We are living in a different world compared to a couple months ago. Some of us might be still grieving of our old life and while others are rebelling with the restrictions. No matter what you are doing, these are our circumstances. So, it’s important to approach your new normal with a new way of thinking, feeling, and acting to help you with wellness in your life. It’s not an overhaul, but more of an awareness and tapping into your own power in a way that you may have never done before.
You will get through this and after it passes, soon be back to your old life with a new emotional, mental and physical well-being that is better than before.