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What positive lessons can we learn from 2020's new normal

Updated: Nov 30, 2020

At the time of going to press terrorism was on the rise again, Covid-19 is back with a feverish 2nd wave, and the #metoo movement is back in the media with new cases. So, how do we cope with 2020's new normal?

Photograph: iStock

Text: Lyndsay Jensen

When our health and sources of income are at threat, stress and anxiety can feel like the new normal. We wake up to an endless battle every day—a struggle to stay safe from the highly contagious Covid-19, and finding the right strategies to keep our businesses and jobs afloat. It's almost impossible not to focus on the uncertain future, and that's left many of us scared, frustrated, and feeling anxious.

Though it might appear impossible to shake off stress and anxiety at the moment, the human mind can learn the resilience needed to soldier through this stressful period. The reason is life as we know it has changed, so the stress-coping strategies that worked before coronavirus might now be obsolete.

Change is not all bad

Grocery shopping has turned into a challenging, stressful experience. Accept that grocery shopping is no longer the ordinary errand you used to run by yourself after work. Instead, embrace online grocery shopping. Take time out from your workday or after your workday and shop online.

It's important to understand that we're all dealing with these changes together. No one has any tried-and-approved techniques of coping with the change, so you shouldn't carry the burden on your own. Join different communities online and try to figure out solutions together – The International has a great community online.

Exercise – yes, you!

I know, you've heard it all before, but exercising will help keep you away from the stressful news headlines and help you stick to a healthy work-from-home routine. Working out daily helps maintain a sense of normalcy to your schedule at a time when everything feels uncertain.

At a scientific level, exercise has proven to facilitate the release of endorphins in the human brain. Endorphins are linked to increasing a person's sense of well-being, boosting mood and neutralising stress hormones.

Avoid too much media

Switch off your TV and stop over-researching things online. Scary statistics and daily updates aren't necessary, especially if you struggle with anxiety. If you must research, ensure that you get all your information only from credible organisations.

Do something other than staring at a screen. Take this period to declutter your home and your life. Attend to your indoor plants, for example, to make your living spaces livelier. Focus on the care of your pets and loved ones now that you have the time.

You'll also reduce your stress levels by trying to stick to your routine as much as possible. Try not to eat in bed, instead, eat at the kitchen table or the dining area as you do on regular days, instead of working from the sofa while wearing pj's, work at your desk or home office and be sure to wear pants (believe me it's a thing on zoom calls).

Look to a positive future

A couple of things are certain: Covid-19, terrorism and sexual discrimination will not go away overnight. No one knows what our future holds. Project your mind to the future—a future where you will party, travel, work, make a better life for yourself. Learn a language (Danish or something new) or learn a new skill, take an online course. Make a note of all things you want to do in your life, not all the things you can't do right now.

Don't let this seeming isolation dim your spirits. Don't allow information overload to trouble your mind. Fight against the spiralling negative thoughts that 2020 uncertainty has precipitated. In doing so, you'll find yourself feeling much calmer and less stressed.

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