The New Normal Is Not Normal
Doctoral Candidate, PEC Psychology Intern
In some ways, it seems like we are getting back to “normal”. Perhaps you spent months at home and now you are back in the office. Maybe your children are attending some school days in person after months of virtual learning. We still wear our masks, avoid handshakes, and stand six feet apart; however, in many ways, we are back to the hustle and bustle of “normal” life.
But nothing about this is actually normal.
We, as a society, are experiencing a collective trauma, and that must be acknowledged. It is important for you to know that your child is not alone in their struggles to keep up with school during this strange year. Your family is not alone in their difficulty deciding who to see for holidays. Many people are overwhelmed and having trouble with things that used to just be part of the day.
We may be more accustom to this unusual time but living through this pandemic has an impact on us each day, and we are all experiencing these struggles together. Here are some tips for getting through the day-to-day in this not so normal time:
Turn off the news. The 24-hour news cycle can increase anxiety and while it is good to be informed, sometimes we need to close off the outside world and focus on those who are with us.
Be a resource. In line with turning off the news, be a resource for accurate information for your children and support them if they are feeling stressed. Avoid toxic positivity, such as saying, “Don’t worry, everything will be ok!” Instead validate their emotion and be present with them. Try saying, “I can see how worried you are. I am always here for you. How can I help?”
Family time. Many people are experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression. It is important that family members do not shut each other out during this time. Set up times for your family to engage in something fun together and connect. Family game night can have a healing effect!
Reduce the pressure. Although work and school may have expectations like those of a typical year, it is important to recognize our limits. It is OK to take a break when one is needed. This year is a unique experience, so try to adjust your expectations for yourself and your family. It is OK if after a long day you can’t bring yourself to cook that healthy meal you planned – who doesn’t love an impromptu pizza night every now and then? It is OK to adjust your priorities in the interest of self-care (and help your children to do the same). Try to be OK with some imperfection for now.
Ask for help. Balancing all the expectations and responsibilities of life can be exhausting. Know when it is time to ask for help and ASK. Help can take different forms. It might look like ordering that pizza after a long day or hiring a tutor to work on homework and review lessons with your child (free resources are also available online!). An increasing number of people have been reaching out to therapists for support as this pandemic contributes to heightened experiences of anxiety and depression. We are here for you!
One day we will gather again. Until then, know that you are not alone and we will get through this together.