Between the year 2019 and 2020, a disrupting force assailed the globe with ferocious intensity that blindsided even the rich nations of the world.
It came in the form of a virus named COVID-19 which swept through nations in an unprecedented way.
Of course none of the above is news to anyone as we are all living through the devastation of this unwanted marauder. Life as we know it will never be the same again. The way business is conducted; international travel; family relations and social interactions – all these and more will undergo a metamorphosis that none could have predicted. In 2017, I wrote a book with an eerily similar title so let me offer some hope for these uncertain times.
I defined a new normal as “a change in outlook, perspective and day-to-day living that trauma brings”.
In the journey of life, you chart your course and proceed with a destination in mind. Trauma in the form of COVID-19 has now thrown you off course.
No matter which part of the world you live in, this is a new normal. It is messy, frightening, confusing, upsetting and frustrating. Whilst it is very important to acknowledge and deal with the attendant feelings; don’t allow the tidal wave of emotions to consume or knock you down.
In my book, I offer a 7-step framework which is a practical tool box to get you from merely existing to thriving.
It is a process not a one-off event.
The first step is Realism which I define as “acceptance without despair”.
This is what this looks like in practice.
1. Ditch resentment
With everything that’s changed in your life at this season be it reduction in or loss of income, inability to see loved ones in person, restrictions, cancelled events and so on, it is understandable to get mad. In fact, it is necessary for you to get the anger off your chest. What isn’t healthy though is to harbour resentment and bitterness as these will cloud your judgement.
Easier said than done, but you need your wits about you at this time.
2. Isolate but don’t be distant
One of the most effective ways we have been told to slow the spread of this virus is staying home. For some this can be extremely difficult as no one is meant to go through life alone.
Please don’t let pride stop you from picking up the phone to connect with a community whatever that looks like.
Especially on days that you are feeling low, speak to someone about how you are feeling. There is no shame nor guilt is asking for help – indeed it is a sign of strength.
For those with vulnerable relatives or neighbours, please don’t assume they are okay.
Pick up the phone and check up on them. Offer practical help wrapped in dignity.
3. Be present
When times are hard, it is tempting to choose disengagement either by living in the past or daydreaming about the future. Neither of those states are helpful as there are things you need to attend to in the present. Whether that involves looking after yourself or others, be determined to show up every day.
In this regard, routines are great. For example, going for a walk, having a shower, putting on clothes and personal grooming – these are a good start.
4. Don’t avoid difficult tasks
Whether this involves speaking to your creditors, starting or completing projects that you have avoided, give yourself a pep talk or watch a motivational video. Then get cracking.
Remember that there is a future you have to prepare for – after COVID-19 has become more manageable. Your actions today will determine what that will look like.
5. Be gracious to yourself and others
Without a doubt, these are testing times. As such, tempers will be frayed and emotions will run high. Under those circumstances, anger and intolerance can be directed towards self as well as others. Please don’t do it.
When you’re not in control of your emotions, take five minutes or more to calm yourself down. Whilst in that pause, speak positively to and about yourself. For example, you can say things like: “I have self-control and I am strong; I am patient and wise”.
Tailor what you say to the situation at hand.
The time out and self-talk will shift your perspective as well as diffuse tension. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Resolve to do better when you know better.
Stay safe and treasure your loved ones while you have them.
This time will pass into history.