The New Normal…For Now—The Practical Side

With more than one month into doing life while the world is mostly shut down as a result of COVID-19, it is safe to say we have all learned some things. We are all spending more time at home, more time with the same people and less time going out into the world to work and play. We are trying to find our new normal and still holding onto hope that the parts of life we love most will soon return.

About 2 weeks ago I had the privilege of viewing a short presentation by world renowned trauma expert, Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk on COVID-19 and how it is impacting our mental health. Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk has made studying trauma his life work and wrote arguably one of the best books on trauma entitled, The Body Keeps the Score.

In his presentation about COVID-19, the doctor made several points about managing stress during these changing and uncertain times. In my own words, I will share some of the knowledge I gleaned from the presentation here:

1) Keep moving. And no, I don’t mean exercise—though that is good for your mental health, too. I mean, keep doing meaningful things. Spend quality time with your partner or children, make a special meal or complete a home project. Simply put, we are “designed to make and create” so keep doing such things.

2) Connect. Humans beings are made to connect. We are literally designed to “laugh and cry together” and share the emotions involved in the human experience. So, spend face to face quality time with those in your home and schedule times you can Facetime or video chat with your loved ones and colleagues.

3) Self-regulate and engage. Self-regulate means do positive and healthy things that promote feelings of calm in your life, whatever they may be. Walk, bake, garden, meditate, journal, pray, etc. Engage with life and don’t numb out. “Lean into” what is going on around you. Don’t eat too much, drink too much or binge watch Netflix. Connect with others and engage in activities that improve your mental health.

4) Keep the future in mind. My uncle used to frequently say that “people need something to look forward to.” He looked forward to his fishing trips. Right now, you may need to be creative in planning for the future, but you can still come up with things to look forward to. For example, plan a special meal you will cook at home, buy a new workout video to try, or try a new hobby.

It is important to both acknowledge that we are in a challenging season right now globally and equally important to be mindful about how to care for ourselves during this time. If you would like to watch the above presentation you can access it on pesi.com with a subscription. Better yet, if you need the tangible support of a seasoned mental health counselor, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with a licensed psychotherapist.


Yolanda Brailey