How do we create a new ‘normal’ together?

The last few months have presented us all with a unique situation. It has been challenging and also a time of opportunity too – if we can see our own individual situations with greater self-awareness and perspective.

Do you feel ready to go back out into the world? Do you have any anxieties or fears about resuming with ‘normal’ life? How do you want your new normal to look like?

Along with the obvious changes to our working and living situations that the lockdown presented, it also delivered us a moment to reconsider the way we had been living our lives prior to, and during, the ‘big reset’.

In the darkness of lockdown what has come to light for you?

During lockdown some noticed their normal coping mechanisms under stress, increase.

This may have included greater tendencies towards alcohol consumption, workaholism, spiritual escapism and drug & tobacco use. Some have struggled more with irregular sleeping patterns, body image and eating issues, depression, anxiety and worrisome thoughts.

This is not surprising and not to be ashamed of if you can relate. Coping mechanisms are ways we have learnt to regulate our nervous systems and emotional landscape within. And since we’ve mentally, emotionally and physically been under strain – both individually and collectively – it is completely understandable.

Us humans however, will go to great lengths to avoid feeling the full discomfort of our true internal experience caused by internal and external stressors. Hence the whole myriad of ways we have learnt to numb out, distract, push down and ignore our own pain at all costs, even if that means we suffer greatly as a consequence.

Often it’s the case that we’re so disconnected to our discomfort, that we’ve normalised everything as ‘ok’. But the thing is, you can’t outrun pain  – it will always find a way to rear its head and dampen your experience of life.

If you have come to the realisation that your own coping mechanisms in the face of stress and adversity could do with an upgrade, you are definitely not alone.

Did you make any changes in lockdown that you would like to maintain?

For some, lockdown provided an opportunity to reassess lifestyle habits and coping mechanisms.

With less distraction ‘out there’ they used it as an opportunity to learn something new, to process experiences they’d previously ignored, to connect to nature more, grow supportive self-care practices and to reassess what truly matters to them. Some have become more grateful for what they have, have become closer as families and in partnerships, and come to clarity around important goals and dreams.

What can you notice about your own lockdown habits? What would you like to let go of? What would you like to maintain in your life going forwards?

This isn’t a case of shaming or judging the way you individually navigated lockdown. It’s simply an exercise in observing how you individually cope with change and adversity, and noticing whether you’d choose the same approach again.

Once you become aware of how you habitually behave, you gain choice. A choice to continue with what you did before to cope with (insert stressor: work problems, argument with partner etc) and therefore expect similar experiences to occur in your life. Or commit to trying a different response, and therefore expect a different outcome. Repeat or evolve.

Spoiler alert: choosing to evolve, will change you and your life for the immeasurable better!

Change and evolution is easier when we support one another

As we continue to move through big changes and transitions individually and collectively, notice how you’re really feeling.

What have you learnt about yourself during lockdown? Are there any changes you want and are willing to make with how you cope with adversity?

Sustainable change takes commitment and it also provokes fear in most us (more on this in another blog post!). It takes continual choices throughout the day, everyday, to form new habits and neural pathways in the brain and body.

This is made exponentially easier with the support of others. Whether that’s from community, a partner, a coach like myself or a therapist, you don’t have to walk the path of change on your own.

Often it is by courageously sharing our inner worlds and experiences with another, that we begin to notice more, choose differently and become more conscious in our own lives.

You have an opportunity right now to shape your own new normal. To be an active participant in how you live, work and be, now and in the future. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by, ask yourself some honest questions and be brave enough to sit with the answers. And then act! You get to choose how to create and lead your own new normal.


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