The New Normal

DISCLAIMER: Photos were shot 07/03/2020 + Photography: Floirin Chapling

You and I are currently living in what seems like one of those series that Netflix produce and we all get hooked on. Shit, has hit and now in 2020 the plot of the series has become reality. I’ve always found that writing about how I feel to be rather therapeutic and one way in which I can deal with whats going on around me. I thought that I would write a post that wasn’t going to fall into the category of 2020 survival because we’re all coping in our own unique ways and we’re all in this strange latex masked world together.

In November, I begun a social media detox which I wrote about here. The detox saw me limiting my screen time and usage on apps such as Facebook + Instagram. Each and every anxious thought had been triggered by an innocent scroll; All unhealthy habits. In limiting the screen time, I’ve become more conscious of the time I spend on social whether it’s when my phone alerts me – to only having 5 minutes left until downtime or that I’m close to reaching my limit on these self loathing feelings. It also made me aware that after 7pm, every time I go on and pointlessly scroll, I’m opening myself up to shit + I shouldn’t look for shit that will hurt me. We control the output of these apps and we shouldn’t feel guilty for controlling what we see and don’t want to see; whether that means unfollowing, blocking or muting hashtags, people or accounts that make us feel not happy or healthy.

But the reality is, during these unprecedented times each time you and I feel anxious or upset; we feel guilty which ultimately causes the situation to feel and be worse. I personally feel guilty because I think of every NHS worker who is not in the position to work from home or even isolate with their families. I also feel guilty for my former co-workers who are currently working in a supermarket and like the NHS workers they too, can’t stay at home. I think what we’re forgetting is that they’re sacrificing their own health for the sake of our health and food cupboards. These people we cannot forget and dismiss when we’re feeling fed up of the situation. But, the reality is, we respect and admire these workers but it doesn’t prevent us from feeling upset or angry. I read a tweet from a psychologist who said this time is not the trauma olympics and we must stop trying to help our mental state by comparing ourselves to others. We all deal with situations, moments and words differently our brains are all wired differently so there is no right way of dealing with or understanding this new world we’re all living in. We must stop trying to deflect others emotions through comparing it someone who might have it worse; you’ll never help the person feeling that way, instead the person will feel guiltier for allowing themselves for feeling that way. Your intention was that, it would change the way they saw things and be grateful for what they have in favour of feeling sad or overwhelmed. As someone who has received this ‘help’. We’ve seen an increase in those of us struggling mentally during these times and that is OK. It’s OK to feel like this. Remember, this is a situation that we’ve not experienced before so none of us have the manual that tells us how to deal with the situation. Imagine, if we did? It would say on day 27, to watch Bridget jones and relax because next week it’ll be over but we haven’t and we have to accept this and it’s Ok to not be 100% positive all the time, because these are hard times and ones that we cannot control by an app or our minds. FYI, on a lighter note, I can’t wait for our Instagram stories on December 31st being before quarantine and after quarantine comparisons and how we’ve all used this time to improve ourselves.

 We all have to accept that we cant control anything or anyone during these times so trying to control something that is way out of our control will never minimise the situation. This is something that my therapist and i have spent months working on- this ability to stop trying to control situations or outcomes of these situation by carrying out rituals. You shouldn’t worry about something that is out of your control. Moaning on Facebook won’t make the situation suddenly improve or make it better; similarly, we were all preaching kindness in February after the tragic death of Caroline Flack but are we being ‘kind’ during a time that is asking us to be kind and considerate to those around? If you ask me, we posted ‘be anything but kind‘ on our Facebook status’ and Instagram captions as some deflection of our real behaviours; I’ve noticed those who shared the kindness captions were the bullies at school and were the unkind indirect social media users. So, why have we gone down the route of not practising what we preach? Actions speak louder than words.

I’m not going to share my tips on coping during these times because I’m not an expert but I will share how i’ve tried to improve my state of my mind by trying not to worry about things I can’t control. At the start, I was calm + collected and just free of worry but not being in a routine has thrown me in the air. We’re all working out a new normal and this is going to take time; we’re all going to need to accept that this is something not going away tomorrow or next week. We have to accept that concerts, holidays and weddings are all postponed or sadly cancelled but rather than letting it rain on the parades of the holiday makers, the fan girls and the brides we must look at the fact that these are things to look forward to and plan again when the situation is controlled to a better extent. Perhaps, after this, we’ll come out more grateful, appreciative and tactful individuals. But, here are a few things I’ve done to try and find comfort in a time of uncertainty:

Limit Social: Despite the positives in using Facebook such as video call and staying connected with our loved ones there are some serious negatives. Social is one big trigger of self doubt, anxiety and worry; so if you can and are prepared limit your daily intake. Do it. Assess which platforms cause you to be more stressed. For me, it’s Instagram + Facebook therefore these platforms are on a limit to 1 hour a day. It’s the limiter, that makes you realise how much of your ‘free’ time is spent just scrolling which will allow you to develop a healthier relationship with the platforms. Limiting your time on these apps also means the time you do spend on them; becomes a chore rather than a time wasting activity; perhaps scrolling with a purpose.

Use the 1 exercise a day: The UK Government are still allowing  outdoor activity which means we should all try to do 1 form of exercise a day; running, walking or cycling outside. I’ve found that when I’ve gone and exercised outside; I’ve felt mentally stronger. The fresh air and ounce of vitamin D have worked wonders and something I’m trying to apply each day.

Yoga in the garden: On Saturday, I tried yoga in the garden and the combination of the two was wonderful. I found myself rather zen like following the virtual class. I’m no yoga promoter or sudden hippy but the enjoyment I had in yoga/pilates can be replicated at home without peers etc.

It’s Ok to watch repeats: I often shame myself for loving a repeat of Alan Partridge, Top Gear or Desperate Housewives but during these times, it’s Ok to find comfort in these things that relax you and make you happy. If this, is watching series 4 of Waterloo Road, you do you hun bun. It’s not about listening to what you want and can do.

Nobody said it would be easy but storms do pass and this storm will have to pass like the others that have been in it’s way. So, rather than dwelling on what we can’t do; try to be grateful for what we do have and can have during these tough times. I’m grateful to have; my family around me since I live at home, food on the table and a roof over my head. I’m also grateful for the ability to call and text my friends during a time where we can mingle of a G&T.

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