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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Barker

The COVID-19 Diaries: Maintaining "Normal"

Contributed by Shayla O'Keefe

With everything feeling a bit chaotic in the world, it’s hard not to get swept up into the panic, stress and frantic change. It’s equally as difficult not to carry that feeling into every facet of our life, personal or professional, giving into the upheaval.

Within the matter of a week, the world shifted for many of us and threw us into situations we had never and could never have predicted. It left many people repeatedly asking, “When will things go back to normal?”

Normal is an adjective that, according to the dictionary, means conforming to a standard; something that’s expected, usual and typical. Nothing about the past month has been expected, usual or typical.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried my hardest to make this crazy mess into something resembling a “normal” that I could accept. This is my fourth week working from home, being fortunate enough to have that as an option as a nonessential employee. And it’s been HARD.

It took the full 28 days to pull it together, and I’m still working on it every day.

Focusing too much on being alone had sent me into a downward spiral of self-pity, frustration and an even shorter attention span. It took more than a week to discover what would make me feel better was a schedule, one that still included people.

So, I set my alarm early-ish to do some yoga or a workout, reminding my body of the days that I fought the alarm to get in a pre-work gym class. Check, normal.

I get ready for the day: makeup (just enough to make me not look like a ghost on video calls), change out of my pajamas, brew my coffee and check my social media accounts. The rhythm of having a morning routine was normal, so check.

My workday consists of checking email, chatting my coworkers (bugging them on Teams with gifs instead of walking by their desk to have that humor release), take a lunch break (walking around the neighborhood instead of walking to my car to get coffee at lunch), and work some more with meetings (now video calls). Normal, normal, normal and normal.

Nights consist of TV (the first time I allow myself to turn it on all day), food, and relaxing.

It looks different on the surface, but below the surface, it’s all the same: keeping your physical health routine, working, interacting with people, and saving time for myself to unwind at night.

I’m not going to lie, though; it hasn't looked pretty going through the process of getting a sense of normal back. Some days I still battle with it, so I’m not perfect and nothing about this is perfect. But we have to do what we can to not lose it all.

We need some sort of consistency now more than ever, we need to feel like we have a purpose, and we need interactions with multiple other human beings.

No one knows what they’re doing, no one knows how to react, no one knows how to adjust, and no one knows that the future holds at this point. But that’s what connects us all on a global scale.

We’re all humans and all struggling, but together we can make new routines, new normals, and new hope.

Note from Autumn: If you're looking for more content to read during this crazy time, be sure to check out Shayla's blog.

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