AdultsAnxietyClaudia Salgado

Covid Stress and Anxiety? Tips for Embracing Our “New Normal”

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It’s been over a year of the Covid-19 Pandemic and for most of us there have been a lot of unexpected changes to our daily routines. Our “normal” has shifted considerably. 

We have come a long way. From the inundation of information (and misinformation) to having a grasp of recommendations are for safety and wellbeing. We have had to make decisions about school, work, family life and more. What feels comfortable and acceptable has continued to evolve over time. For many it has included loss of employment as well.

You may have endured a lot of uncertainty about tomorrow, the future in general, and may be in the midst of more changes right now.  

 

What do we know about change?

We know that human beings have a tremendous ability to adapt to changes in their environment and to continue to grow and thrive. 

We also know that transition can take time and can be laden with anxiety and uncertainty about the future. 

We also know that as people, we have a tendency to hold on tightly to what we know and feel comfortable with and that this can sometimes prevent a smoother transition.

So, maybe we went kicking and screaming into a “new normal” environment where we:

  • Wear masks around other people 
  • Do a lot of things virtually
  • Diligently plan get togethers, dining out, and even perhaps grocery shopping
  • Are more self-conscious about washing hands and keeping them away from our face
  • Attend school entirely online or following a hybrid system (online and in person)
  • Worry that celebrations, graduations, and other events may not look the same anymore

 

Making the best out of the “New Normal”

We can resist change all we want; yet, we still have to figure out how we can cope with and manage it in the best way possible. Looking only backwards to what we miss can prevent us from moving forward.

While it is tempting to focus only on the things we have lost, it is not a helpful approach long term. It is important to grieve our losses and then refocus on what we have gained and opportunities that lay ahead.

The following may be some of the things you have gained from this experience as well as some tips to capitalize on the positives of the experience.

Bonding time between family members 

Although not in the form we imagined it, this pandemic has provided increased opportunities for more time spent together. This also means more communication. There is a golden opportunity to reprioritize spending more time with family.

Tips: 

  • It helps to maintain a routine and structure at home. That routine may not be the same as before, but it can be helpful to identify and implement a routine that works for your family. 
  • Make sure you have a date night on the calendar, don’t forgo intimacy with your partner.
  • Provide space and opportunities for alone time if possible.

 

Creativity and Imagination 

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We’ve had to decrease reliance on mass forms of entertainment (movie theaters, amusement parks, etc.), leading to opportunities to use imagination and creativity regularly for entertainment.

Tips:

  • Use creativity for time spent together (remember some of those games we forgot how to play – hide and seek, treasure hunt, catching bubbles?)
  • Hobbies: check out some of our suggestions.

 

Social Connections

Embrace opportunities to maintain social connection even when having to maintain physical distancing. 

Tips:

  • Consider hobbies that give you more opportunities for interaction with others, even if through physical distancing.
  • Take your family kayaking, fishing, or on a family picnic at Watchung Reservation in Mountainside, NJ. 
  • Go on hikes/walks and share pictures and videos of your adventures. Check out the scenic trails at Nomahegan Park in Cranford, NJ.
  • Connect with longtime friends over video now that video calls are almost universal

 

Work Flexibility

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You may now have a more flexible schedule that allows you to work from home some or all workdays. Perhaps your work hours have even changed to meet your family’s needs.

Tips: 

  • Maintain healthy limits and boundaries to increase your ability to maintain regular work hours rather than working excessive hours.
  • Allow for transition times between work and home life. You may not be able to use the drive home to decompress anymore. Consider a transitional activity you can engage in such as listening to some music or going for a walk.
  • When working from home, parents can be easily accessible to kids even though they technically are not. Implement a routine with follow-through. For example, if you would normally take a break for lunch – schedule that break and have lunch with your kids. Let them know when you will be available and follow through by checking in with them at that time.  Resist the urge to let others intrude upon that time.

 

Perspective 

How you look at a situation or a challenge can make a world of difference. Looking at gains instead of only the losses can help increase hope, options and creativity. You will find more things are available to you than you originally thought.

If you find yourself experiencing a lot of anxiety and struggling with change while facing the “New Normal” know that you are not alone. Help is available!

Interested in online therapy?

Contact us for a free video consultation.

(908) 242-3634 or Connect Now

 

 

 

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Claudia is a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist who helps couples, families, adults, and children utilize their strengths and skills to thrive. She provides her clients with the tools to help reconnect with their partner, work through family conflict, or help children overcome their hurt. Claudia specializes in treatment for trauma, blended families, and grief and loss.