5 Tips for Starting “Normal” Life Again

After weeks or months of social distancing and adjusting to our new normal many states have begun the process of reopening. The reality is no one knows what this process looks like but suddenly we are all tossed into this time of transition together.

When I heard my state was starting the process of reopening it was a mixed bag of emotions.

Of course there was a lot of joy and relief with a side of anxiety and fear, and a whole lot of uncertainty and confusion too.

A lot of us are hopeful to return to what life looked like before the pandemic, but the reality is for most of us this has shifted some of our rhythms and patterns so our lives post-quarantine will look different.

Here are a few tips to keep you at ease and at peace when facing this transition.

1. Give Grace to Yourself and to Others

As we make this transition an abundance of grace is needed. Everyone has been using this time differently.

Many people have experienced loss at some level. Maybe the loss of a job, of a celebration like a birthday party or baby shower, or the loss of community or an opportunity.

Most of us have had to mourn something during this time, and all of us have lost some sense of security and safety.

As we begin reopening people are still processing and grieving those losses. Some friends might be ready to hop on a plane and plan a vacation, while others might still feel overwhelmed or uncertain. We have to extend grace to others and to ourselves during this time.

Remember, no one has done this before.

2. Keep a Schedule

Maybe your quarantine habits have been sleeping in, snacking often, and binge watching TV shows.

As we start to accept previous responsibilities that now require us getting off of our couches instead of simply logging onto a Zoom call, the transition will feel easier with a schedule.

Having a schedule we are committed to can add a sense of control to days that may feel chaotic.

Consistency with things like having our morning cup of coffee or reading a book to unwind at the same time each day can help to add a sense of control and some normalcy to days during transition.

It can also help you feel productive if the habits you have during the day provide a sense of accomplishment and motion towards your goals. Even if your area isn’t beginning the reopening process yet, it could be helpful to begin some habits now that can ground you for when the process starts.

3. Focus on Gratitude

A lot of us have been focused on what we’ve lost and what has been discouraging during this season. Choosing to focus on what we are grateful for can provide a helpful attitude shift.

A great way to shift your mindset towards gratitude is keeping a gratitude journal. It can be as simple as starting a note on your phone where you list out a few things you were grateful for at the end of the day. Or you could begin a verbal practice of saying a few things you’re thankful for out loud, or telling a friend what you’re grateful for.

This trains the brain to start thinking about what we are grateful for throughout the day. As we become accustomed to making note of it, we start to think about what we’re grateful for more often.

Being grateful for what we have as we make this transition can help us to move forward in thanksgiving instead of staying disappointed or focused on the difficulties of this season.

4. Be Realistic

As a seven on the enneagram, this doesn’t come naturally to me. I feel like reopening should mean our town transforms into Disneyland and we all flood the streets with balloons and confetti and a welcome home parade.

The reality is that reopening is a slow process and it requires patience. Some businesses are staying closed longer than others. Most are opening at a slower pace. Restaurants may only open half of their seating or only offer take out.

We need to be realistic with our expectations for our communities.

For some, a dinner party sounds great. For others, it may take longer to feel comfortable being in a room filled with people. Our schedules before the stay at home order might feel too overwhelming now and it might take some time before every day is filled like it used to be.

5. Set Boundaries

For many of us this season has brought on the unexpected blessing of clearing our schedules and forcing us into new rhythms we might actually want to keep. Personally, I realized how worn out I had been and I was grateful to have a forced time of rest.

Now, as reopening begins, I have to remind myself to set healthy boundaries. What felt overwhelming before? Where can I allow more space for rest in my life? What patterns did I start during this season that I’m proud of? What do I want to continue?

One of the best ways to set boundaries is through confident, organic conversation. It’s okay to admit that after getting some time away some of our behaviors or habits may have changed.

Maybe you want to keep up with your daily yoga practice, or maybe it’s time to say no to frequent dinners out. Don’t be afraid to let people in your life know what new patterns you want to keep as you transition out of your life at home.

These are a few things I’ve found helpful as our state begins reopening. With a lot of grace, healthy habits, and realistic expectations it doesn’t have to be too intimidating or too painful of a process. If nothing else, let’s all freely admit we have no idea what we’re doing, but we’re doing our best.

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Pastor Dave
May 22, 2020 11:06 am

Thanks for the helpful article. It’s OK for me to practice grace to myself and to others. It’s a day by day process with the Lord leading me all the way!

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