Posts Tagged ‘coronavirus’
The New Normal – 7 Valuable Lesson Opportunities To Learn Now
The “new normal” is a phrase that has entered our everyday speech, along with phrases such as “social distancing,” “physical distancing,” or “PPE.” Due to COVID-19 pandemic, our lives have been changed. The questions are, how much longer will our lives be changed, and will our lives ever be what they were before?
Therefore, the idea of a “new normal” worries some people and causes many to feel anxious. Friends of mine, and some clients of mine, lament that life may never be how it was before the pandemic. Yes, that may be true. But I wonder if a return to normal is what’s in our best interest.
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When we focus on the new normal, we compare our present moment with the past of a few months ago. As I reflect on the past, I recall many positive aspects of our society. Yet, I also remember many negative aspects of our society. Might it be possible that this time of “difference” within our society can also be a time to create a “new normal”? Might this present moment be an opportunity to move into the future of possibilities?
I propose a shift in perspective so that we can take the positive elements of this present time and continue them when the pandemic is no longer an issue. Instead of a return to normal, let’s proactively work toward a positive new normal, which will, over time, simply be known as “normal.”
Here are my suggestions for valuable lesson opportunities we can learn from this new normal:
Re-define the phrase new normal
Normal is what we’re used to; for months, that routine has been challenged. Longing for normal means of longing for the past. What if we look to a “new normal” filled with possibilities?
Let go of victim thinking
These events were not targeted to you individually, even if you are affected by them. A victim is a person devoid of choices. You do have options today. Some aspects of life are beyond your control, while other aspects are in your control. Learn the difference and focus on those areas you can change.
Re-connection with family
The quarantine, for better or worse, forced families together in their dwellings. No family dynamic is perfect, but has your family grown closer? Have you eaten more dinners together or started game nights? Lack of commuting to work and fewer activities and meetings provide families more time together. How can this togetherness become our new normal?
Find your peace
Anger has a way of taking over our life, spilling onto people or events we aren’t even angry about. Our society is sharing in this everyday new normal, enabling us to better understand each other in our shared experience. Take the energy of your anger and shift it to a passion of service toward society.
I grew up before the commercial use of the internet, and before the existence of social media. I recall spending much of my time with my friends in person. During quarantine, we can’t physically spend time with friends, but we can use technology for good. Spend time with your friends via the internet, where you can see each and share in a group conversation and group activities. If this interaction with your friends is new to you, how can you maintain this new normal into the future?
Be kind to others and yourself
As society tries to cope, I find that most people seem a bit nicer and more patient. We’re in this together. Many messages we hear lately are reminders to take care of ourselves during the quarantine. This is essential daily, regardless of what is happening. In the new normal, how will you continue, every day, taking care of yourself and being kind to others?
What aspects of this new normal would you like to keep moving into the future? What would you like to change or stay the same? Start making a list now for you and your loved ones. Also, share with us here or on social media so we can learn from each other.
I challenge us to shift our perspective to no longer look at this period from a negative attitude but to look at it from a positive outlook. We can then create a future filled with positive experiences. Don’t let these past few months pass us by without us walking away with healthy learning. Let’s proactively shape the future we want to live in.
The Future Worries Me – As It Should: Coronavirus version
Yes, the future worries me. Interestingly, a year ago, I wrote and published this article on worrying about the future. Little did I know that a year later, this topic would be most appropriate.
As we continue to struggle with the societal effects of COVID-19, the future worries me. It’s, seemingly, more unsure than ever before in our personal history. Will we return to “normal,” or will the past “normal” never be experienced again?
If we stay focused on the future, then yes, we should be worried about the future. How do we cope with this worry? Read on as I offer my four tips for dealing with the future.
None of us knows the future. Therefore, by its nature, the future is unknown. Since it’s an unknown, it tends to be scary, because I can’t prepare myself for it. Therefore, the future worries me. As humans, most of us desire to be in control of our daily lives, although, no matter how much we strive for control, much of life is beyond our control. The future is one of those areas outside of our control.
When we feel that we can’t control an aspect of our lives, then we feel “out of control.” Feeling out of control is scary itself as we worry about where we will end up if we aren’t in control. So, the future is not only an unknown, but it’s also out of our control. Actually, the future isn’t in anybody’s control!
So yes, when the future worries me, it should! THAT’S NORMAL!
When I work with clients who share their worries about the future, obsessing over it, stressing over it, I help them understand that their future feelings are to be expected. If we are to dwell in the future, meaning, keeping our thoughts focused on the future, then we will be worried and anxious. The statement that the future worries me is deeply felt. I let my clients know that although what they’re feeling is a normal response to their thoughts, if they would instead not feel worried and anxious, then they need to do only one thing – change their thoughts!
Keeping my thoughts in the future causes me to worry and have anxiety. Does it not make sense that changing my thoughts and removing my thoughts from the future would cause me less worry and stress? The standard definition of insanity is doing the same action over and over, yet expecting a different result. Therefore, the definition of sanity is doing a different action and getting a different result.
Here are my four tips for coping when the future worries me:
- Refocus your thoughts: Throughout the day, whenever you feel worried or anxious, pause a moment to notice where your thoughts are focused. Are your thoughts focused on the past or the future? If so, this is the source of your worry. The future worries me when I dwell in the future. Consciously move your thoughts back to the present moment by consciously focusing on what you are now seeing, feeling, experiencing, etc. We have control over the present moment, so keeping our thoughts focused on the present reduces our worry and anxiety.
- Change your perspective: Perspective is how you see and interpret the world around you. Our interpretation is derived after being “filtered” through how you feel about yourself. If you’re negative about yourself, you’re most likely negatively focused on the world around you, and vice versa. Changing our perspective on an issue allows us to view a different way of thinking, which may help us find a solution different than those we’ve tried before. A different solution leads to a different outcome, and therefore sanity.
- Worst case scenario: When we dwell in the future, we tend to focus on what can go wrong (TIP: a change in perspective would be changing your focus from what can go wrong to what can go right. Why must it be negative? Since I don’t know my future, why focus my thoughts on only one option, the negative option? Since I don’t see the future, isn’t it possible that it could be positive?). Since you’re already focused on what can go wrong, consciously ask yourself, “What’s the worst-case scenario?”. When you objectively and logically review what you fear as the worst case may, in fact, not even be that bad!
A few months ago, I was working with a client on this very topic. I used the example of what if a sinkhole developed right now, and this whole building went down. What’s the worst case? The client stated that the worst thing that could happen is that he dies. I asked why that’s the worst that could happen to him? Of course, he mentioned family, kids, friends, etc., but that’s not the worst case for him; it’s the worst case for them! If he dies, he’s dead, there are no more worries or concerns for him. So the worst case might be that he survives and is scared. Yes, being scared is normal. What do you do next? You try to climb out; you either succeed at it or rescuers finally get you out. Regardless, the odds of being trapped in the hole, alive, with no one coming to save us, would be rare. And if you say, “but what about the zombie apocalypse”? Well, in that scenario, I would rather be hidden in the hole. My point being, worrying about a future sinkhole will cause anxiety. Still, understanding that even the worst-case scenario isn’t that bad allows us to reduce our worry about an impending sinkhole.
- Plan for the future with a reasonable expectation: Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. I’m not saying that to live in the present means, we forego any future planning. Not at all! First, concerning the scenario for which you are planning, determine those areas of the situation for which you do and don’t have control over. Those areas you have no control over you need to ignore. But, those areas you do have control over, you need to make plans. Understand that the decisions you make today will impact your future plans. And, situations and events out of your control will change your future plans. This is why I say that we need to have reasonable expectations. We can make the best plans in the world, but keep in the back of your mind that they may not come true. And that’s alright. Why? The opportunities which may open up for you instead may be better than what you wanted. In the future, other opportunities may exist which don’t exist today, and there’s no way of knowing that until we live in the future’s present moment. So, make your goals, plan for your future, but keep an open mind to what that future may actually reveal.
Let this thought comfort you: today was yesterday’s future for which you worried. Was it as bad as you thought? Tomorrow is today’s future. What decisions and plans can you make today to help you in the future of tomorrow?
Coronavirus: How To Emotionally Cope And Reduce Anxiety
Coronavirus continues to spread around the world and the USA. This spread of the virus is causing people to suffer from anxiety and even panic. Fearing they will be affected by the coronavirus, people are changing their lifestyles, even avoiding social situations. How can we realistically emotionally cope with the coronavirus? Follow the PATH.
Coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization, is part of “a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases … Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.”
The idea of a virus, invisible to the naked eye, which can span the globe, is the subject of many a horror movie. Yet this isn’t a fictional movie, and people are getting ill and dying. Thus, the reality of the coronavirus gives us a reason to be anxious and scared. Our fear response keeps us safe and alive. So however you’re feeling about the coronavirus is healthy for you.
I’m not a medical professional, so I’m not writing this article on how to avoid getting the coronavirus. My reason for writing this is to guide us in finding ways to reduce anxiety about the existence of the coronavirus.
Using PATH, the program I developed, is what we’ll apply in this situation. PATH is made up of 4 interconnected strategies to help us focus our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to best respond to the world healthily. In this discussion, I’m in no way minimizing the potential threat or the turmoil the coronavirus has already placed on too many people worldwide.
The first step in practicing PATH is to practice mindfulness. Take a moment throughout the day to recognize how you are feeling in the present moment. Regardless of what you’re feeling, acknowledge it without judging it. If you wish to feel differently, then ask yourself what you can do differently. If there is nothing at the moment you can change, then accept it and find something else you can change.
In light of this mindful meditation, we’ll now start upon our PATH:
Regarding the coronavirus, examine how you feel about it and what you think you know about it. Now, change your perspective by looking at it from a different viewpoint. For instance, spend time studying the virus to gain knowledge instead of false news or hype. Or you could ask yourself how this virus compares to other outbreaks we’ve experienced in the past. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, as of February 28, 2020, there are 2,871 deaths reported worldwide, while the common flu, as of this writing, finds 12,000 to 61,000 deaths in the U.S. alone every year. According to those numbers, more people die, in the U.S., from the flu than those who have been killed worldwide from the coronavirus.
Acceptance does not mean agreement or settling. It’s about viewing reality, and acknowledging what is happening, ask yourself how you will be or are impacted. In the case of the coronavirus, the acceptance is in the reality that it exists, is spreading, and potentially can kill a person. Now, in this reality, what can and can’t you control? What you can’t control, you need to dismiss from your mind since those thoughts are creating much of your anxiety. Instead, focus on the things you can control. In this situation, you can control where you travel, your personal hygiene, and keeping up to date (non-obsessively) with the latest news on the virus in your location.
Now that we’ve changed our perspective and accepted reality, we’re prepared to take action. Based on the above two steps, what can you realistically do for yourself, your family, or your community to make a difference? In this situation, where the majority of the U.S. is not affected by the virus, can you help others to stay calm or educate them on how to respond to the threat?
Mindfulness and finding inner peace is not about selfishness, but an outpouring of the peace we have experienced. This last step on our PATH focuses on what we can do, as a result of the above steps, to guide others to feel the peace you are now feeling. Then they too will do the same with others. Think of how different our communities would be if everyone was helping another to find peace and reduced anxiety over the coronavirus!
I know too many people have died, and many more people have been negatively affected by the coronavirus. But I also know that by keeping this virus in perspective and helping others to do the same, will benefit us in the long term.