Is it possible to find normal during a pandemic? COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus, meaning it is a new virus to humans. Since it’s new, human populations don’t have any immunity to it. Not only is it very contagious, it can be deadly.

Things Aren’t Normal

To give medical professionals a chance to find ways to combat COVID-19, governments around the world are requiring their citizens to stay in their homes and to practice social distancing. This means people must work from home, if they haven’t been furloughed or laid off from their jobs. Schoolchildren are attending online lessons.

One helpful way to start finding normal is to recognize that what we’re collectively experiencing (a complete, rapid shift in our lifestyles) is pretty traumatic. In the US, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) outlines the following as symptoms that the pandemic is stressing you out:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

To find normal, maybe a first step is to recognize nothing is normal right now. If you are feeling any of these symptoms, just accepting that you are stressed out and traumatized is a good first step.

You should also understand that you are not alone. Here are suggestions from the CDC on dealing with the stress:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate
  • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

What are some concrete ways to put this into practice?

Find Normal with New Routines

If you are sheltered in place, it’s important to find normal by creating new routines. Sometimes it can be as simple as changing your language. This blog post on Big Men on Content suggests saying that you’re working at home instead of working from home. This is our new normal for the unforeseen future, and our language should acknowledge that. Having kids wake up from naps or dogs barking at FedEx drivers should be expected.

But if you’re working at home, it is important to find a space to work, and a routine so that you are not always working. It is important to schedule time to exercise, to have fun, and just have quiet time for yourself. You need that to stay healthy.

Other routines you may need to consider changing is how you consume information. Since the pandemic permeates the news, you may want to curtail reading or watching the news to a defined time each day. This may mean turning off notifications or turning off the television.

Harnessing Your Energy and Collaborate Online

You may find yourself with extra time on your hands. One way to find normal is to help others. Here are some suggestions:

  • Help solve the PPE (personal protection equipment) gap. There are several initiatives to do this. Whether you’re a maker or you have operations or marketing skills, you can apply your extra energy to this cause.
  • Share your skills. Since schoolkids have had their school year cut short, they are just as idle and frustrated as we are. What a perfect time to connect and share your skills! Learn a new platform (Twitch, Snapchat, etc) and teach people something you know how to do.For inspiration, check out how Broadway stars are helping theatre kids around the country perform, especially since spring musicals were cancelled.
  • Learn a new skill. You may have extra time to take an online class now. What is a new skill you need to develop? Many of the training classes are offering deals (even free classes!), so take advantage of them now.
  • Attend an online conference. Conferences we would have attended are making the shift to online conferences. This could be a great way to catch up on technical topics as you work at home. NVIDIA GTC is happening now, and is free. We’ll have to wait for other shows to see if they will offer their content free as well.

To Find Normal, Build Your New Normal

We’re in uncharted territory with this global pandemic. To find normal, we all need to actively build a new normal that makes sense for us and our families. How are you doing that? Let us know in the comments.