Why I'm Calling This Our 'New Now'—Not Our 'New Normal'
There’s a phrase that’s been floating around in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been used to describe this odd time in our lives, one filled with all sorts of feelings and anxieties.
The phrase in question is “new normal,” and you may have heard it used as a soothing reminder that we’re all adapting.
And while it's typically said with good intentions, I'm not the biggest fan of the phrase. Why: The fact that what we’re going through right now isn't remotely normal.
With people across the world either stuck at home, still at work on the front lines, or dealing with new burdens, it’s safe to assume that our “normal” modes of operating have all but ceased to exist.
On top of that: COVID-19 continues to impact us all differently. Referring to this as “normal” doesn’t reflect those differences, particularly when we examine the impact of coronavirus across race, gender, and class.
And finally: Calling this our "new normal" doesn't reflect the fact that things can change. They can get better. And while the future is uncertain, this particular way of life won't be our forever. It's not our new normal.
That's why I've started using a phrase that captures how we're adapting and the ability for things to still change: I'm calling this our "new now."
It's a phrase that helps me accept what I have to do differently during this time but also still creates space for me to have hope that things can change.
This blend of acceptance and hope is helping me cope. Here, some tips on how you can embrace the "new now" mindset too.
Remember: This Isn’t Forever
This situation is a marathon, not a sprint. Use that mindset to help you adjust to your current situation—but also remember that this isn’t going to be forever.
"This is a temporary normal,” therapist Rachel Gersten, L.M.H.C., explained on a recent episode of The Viva Wellness podcast. “It’s new in the sense of what we’re doing right now, and we haven’t done it before…but I feel like just distinguishing the temporary normal to whatever comes next as the new permanent normal is super important.”
Making that adjustment might help you stay motivated on a daily basis while still holding hope that things will change.
Focus On Today
Another component to remembering that this isn’t forever is focusing on your “now.”
Because this isn’t going to last forever, taking time to focus on the things you can do today—not next week or next month—might help you navigate these uncertain times. What can bring you joy today? What can make you feel good today? How can you prioritize kindness towards yourself today?
If today even feels too big, try focusing on what you can do in the next few hours. Set up your day with things that soothe or empower you, and remind yourself that it's OK to feel good in this moment even if the future is uncertain.
Check-In With Your Needs
We often dive into worry spirals when we focus on things that are beyond our control—and right now, we’re in a global situation where a lot of things are out of our control. Checking in with yourself on a day-to-day basis (or even more frequently!) and remembering what you can control can help you navigate any future-based worries.
What do you need? What boundaries can you set for yourself? Asking yourself these questions can help you practice self-care in the now, even when things feel daunting.
Plus, you might have already found ways to adapt to your now—checking in with yourself can be another exercise in recognizing and reflecting on how you’ve practiced resilience these past few months.
We've all been thrown into abnormal times, yet we're all still choosing to show up and adapt. Take pride in that fact, and focus on your "new now" as a time for you to continue to grow.
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