Finding a New Normal with Covid-19

Monday Author:  Susanne Skinner

We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as other creatures do   ~ Barbara Ward

The world as we know it is on pause. Life, as you and I live it, is on hold. Social gatherings, travel, and sports—cancelled. Businesses, beaches, schools, and government offices are closed. And we are living our best life in this new normal called social quarantine.

Old Normal, New Normal, Covid-19, PandemicWelcome to the new normal of COVID-19. This virus is impacting our economy, along with the way we work, learn and communicate. Last week the United States experienced its worst weekly decline in the stock market since the 2008 financial crisis.  Our monetary futures, the ones we planned and saved for, are suddenly in jeopardy.

People are panic buying; store shelves are stripped and there’s a black market for toilet paper! COVID-19 has no vaccine, the world has an extreme shortage of medical supplies, and cities across the globe are sheltering in place.

The dystopian world authors write about is staring us in the face.

The Covid-19 Pandemic Reigns

The World Health Organization calls this novel Coronavirus a global pandemic. As it spreads, it is fracturing our way of life and testing the world’s ability to fight it.  Its trajectory is exposing cracks in our health care system, supply chain and the information ecosystem.

The virus heightens our reliance on social media.  Instant connectivity defines us, and the infrastructure we depend on is both physical and digital. Physical isolation increases the need for digital connections to share information. An already unstable political platform is weaponizing news for political gain and we can’t tell fact from fiction.

The spread of misinformation, and by default fear, about Covid-19 is rampant. The infrastructure’s inability to filter and provide factual data exposes weak platforms with ineffective monitoring and moderation policies. Debunking false information is almost impossible.

We are a social species, suddenly confined to our homes with only phones and computers connecting us.Unexpectedly, and somewhat unprepared, we find ourselves in a place of discontent, unfulfilled expectations, and medical uncertainty. Even fear.

Coronavirus is not an abstract threat. The world is pulling out all the stops to mitigate the spread and reign it in. When we are on the other side, what will history say about how we responded? What will we learn about ourselves?

Dark Night of the Soul

Humans have an infinite ability to adapt. When COVID-19 is over, history will likely refer to this disease as another flu, like SARS and MERS. Fear fades, life resets itself and returns to normal.

We  do not learn from our experiences, we learn by reflecting on our experiences, new normalBut what is normal? Living through the loss of familiar routines, canceled plans, responsibilities we did not want, and changes we did not plan is not normal. It is, however, the current reality.

This is a teachable moment. As we process a forced quarantine to help flatten the curve, there are multiple opportunities to redefine our future. We have the ability to shape where we want to go and who we are called to be.

Focusing on What We Have

We are conscious of what we don’t have right now. But what about what we do have?  We have time. Do not minimize or dismiss this gift. Things that have been waiting until we have the time are ready for us.

Time also gives us space. Slowing down and learning to pace ourselves is overlooked in the harsh light of deadlines and pleasing others. Space gives us freedom.

Space creates room to breathe. Now is a good time to discover what is meaningful.  Ask yourself if you miss what you no longer have and explore the space it created for new options. Contemplate the wisdom of adding it back versus letting it go.

Cook from your pantry. Take a fridge and pantry inventory, creating from what is on hand. Panic buying will pass; meanwhile, use what you already have.

Finding Positive Energy

Our individual contributions create the positive and negative energy around us. Kindness, though never really gone, is resurrecting itself in new and meaningful ways.

Bitter politics, greedy business practices and toxic social positing is being pushed aside by acts of caring and affirmation. Everyday people are making headlines. Front-line responders who are just doing their jobs are heroes.

Let's make the world better by, Covid-19, Pandemic, social distancingForced to close, restaurants began giving their food to shelters and food pantries.  Those staying open started drive-by and delivery service. A local orthodontist offered his supply of gloves and face masks to the hospital. Verizon added 15GB of data to my plan at no charge and the feds extended the tax filing deadline.

Churches keep parishioners connected by live streaming worship services. Our neighborhood created a closed social media group for daily check-ins, offering doorstep drop-offs for those in need of groceries and supplies. Evening walks—six feet apart—allow us to see each other and call out a greeting.

Creative Responses

My Dad’s assisted living community is in lockdown. All external life-enrichment programs are suspended but the staff created a story hour, reading to residents in the community room. Families and friends FaceTime with loved ones on the big screen set up in the library.

Necessity begets creativity. One of my neighbors organized an anchor-out. Those with boats rallied in the canal (keeping a safe distance) for fresh air, music and a glass of cheer.

Being alone is also a good time to Marie Kondo your situation. Don’t overthink it—if it brings you joy organize a place for it.  If it doesn’t, this is the perfect time to pare down.

Shine On

Hand-shaped heart, sunset, new normal, old normalCreate a place of reflection within this forced isolation. Practice good self-care and appreciate the slower pace of daily life. Use the interruption to rediscover the sounds and textures of nature. Learn the art of doing nothing.

Comfort levels are disrupted, offering the opportunity to look beyond ourselves, living into positive changes we create. Let’s not waste it.

In the face of Covid-19, it’s up to us to create a kinder, conscientious new normal for ourselves and our world.