By: Grace Gufler
It has been about 2-3 months of staying at home under a shelter-in-place order for many people. As the stay at home order continues to be implemented, many of us are still struggling to adapt to this new normal. Maybe you’re wondering why you haven’t adjusted yet? Perhaps you expected to have adjusted by now or, maybe, it’s getting harder and harder over time for you. Here is why adjusting to quarantine is difficult for many people:
Imagine you have just moved into a new home. You are surrounded by boxes and you are told that you will live here for an unknown range of time that can vary from 3 months to 2 years. Are you motivated to unpack? Or do you just unpack the essentials and don’t bother setting up decorations? Do you buy things specific to that living space or do you decide to go without and live with some inconvenience for a while, because you might be moving again soon? The uncertainty, the lack of guarantee, and the confusion that surrounds the Coronavirus makes it difficult to want to adjust to it. Why bother adjusting to working from home or social distancing, if in a few months I’ll have to adjust to going back to ‘normal’ again? The uncertainty of how long these changes will continue contributes to a lack of motivation to adjust to this new normal. Additionally, adjusting would imply an acceptance of these changes to persist for the foreseeable future, and that can be a terrifying thought. In other words, ‘If I adjust, that means I am accepting that this is my new way of life.’
If this is resonating with you, try to change your mindset about adapting to the structural and lifestyle changes caused by the Coronavirus. Adjust to the new, while keeping with the old. Here’s how:
Keep a Routine! You need to find a new routine to help you successfully work from home, homeschool, do online classes, etc. You might need to tamper with your old routine but here is the important part: keep a routine. Having any routine or sense of structure will not only help you adjust to the present day, but it will also make the adjustment of going back to work, school, etc. that much easier. If you neglect to have a routine during quarantine, you will lose a lot of good habits and it will be hard to return to a structured day. Remember how difficult it was to transition from summer break back to school after being off and free for 3 months? This is similar to that. Establish a routine that works with your new lifestyle but continues to provide structure and organization to your day.
Make sure you are still working normal hours! It can be really tempting to sleep in late and then work later in the evening, returning to that old college lifestyle, but sticking to normal work hours will help you transition back later. Additionally, it is important that you continue to eat regular meals and take time away from the computer for them.
Some creativity may be required for other parts of your routine including exercise, time with friends or family, spirituality, or outdoor activities. You may not be able to keep every aspect of your old routine, such as going to the gym, but you can find creative ways to incorporate similar aspects into your routine during the quarantine. The more you can provide structure and intention into your daily life, the smoother the transitions will be.
I hope this blog post helps as we all continue to adjust to a new normal. If you are struggling to adjust to social distancing or staying at home, please reach out to one of our therapists to schedule a virtual therapy session. We are here to support you and your mental health needs during this time.