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Life 101: How’s your “new normal” working out?

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By Linda Arnold EBS CONTRIBUTOR

Our worlds have been rocked.

As swift changes have been thrust upon us, we’ve all had to do a lot of adjusting. While we’re continuing to learn about the physical effects of the COVID-19 virus, what about the mental and emotional effects?

Freedoms take a back seat

As Americans, we’re not used to having our freedoms restricted. Or being told where we can and cannot go.

Jobs are changing. Incomes are affected. The stock market is plunging. Schools are closed. Childcare challenges abound. Restaurants, gyms and many businesses are closed. Travel is prohibited. Events are being canceled, right and left.

Fear and anxiety are running rampant. You’ve had a couple of weeks to get used to this “new normal,” at least for the coming weeks or months.

Out of control

First and foremost, we’re driven at a basic level by the need for safety and security, and to be in control of our lives.

That’s all going out the window with this public health threat. To help deal with this uncertainty, author Anne Lonsdorf has some simple strategies:

  • Examine and identify your fears.
  • Turn “what if” thoughts into “what is” statements.
  • Be aware you can choose your thoughts (which result in your feelings).
  • Focus on what’s going right in your life.

Go for the W.I.N.

A handy technique is WIN. Stop to ask yourself, “What’s Important Now?” This brings you into the present and helps you focus on what you can control.

If you’re working remotely—and the kids or grandkids are out of school—interruptions will persist. Share the load and assign household tasks to avoid resentment.

Getting organized also helps you feel in control. Catch up on home projects or cue up that YouTube exercise video. Make a dent in that stack of books on your nightstand.

Social distancing can even inspire other modes of connecting: long-neglected phone calls or handwritten notes. Indulge in things that give you peace of mind like inspirational reading, a hot bath, soothing music or a walk in nature.

Are we there yet?

We all know this is going to take time. And we don’t know how long that will be. So, be gentle with yourself.

Crisis situations can bring out the best—and the worst—in us. Folks may feel threatened and hoard supplies. On the other hand, there’s an outpouring of support from volunteers.

This crisis is still pretty new. As we settle into the next few weeks, we’ll be able to see more predictability in our daily lives.

Your self-discovery channel

Too often our inner voices get drowned out by all the noise in our outer worlds. Take the opportunity to go within during this social distancing period. You may even stumble onto your own “Self-Discovery Channel.”

By reflecting on what matters most, you’ll be able to look at your priorities, redefine your values and focus on what you really want to create in your life. Journaling, meditation and prayer are helpful practices.

I’d like to close with this alternative greeting I learned from artist Amy Zerner as an option to the “elbow bump” for a safe and spiritual greeting.

Place your hands in the prayer position and hold to your heart (yogi style). Rather than the traditional “namaste” greeting, say, “nama-stay-away-from-me.”

Linda Arnold is a syndicated columnist, psychological counselor and founder of a multistate marketing company. Reader comments are welcome at linda@lindaarnold.org or visit lindaarnold.org for information on her books.

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