Nearly in a flash, COVID changed everything about life as we once knew it. What used to be simple errands are now executed plans with advanced preparations. Empty streets are driven down to grocery stores filled with nervous people on edge, afraid to get too close.
These are the examples most people cite when discussing the “new normal” of our society amidst the pandemic.
Through the Wilderness
But through the fear, anxiety, and overwhelming uncertainty people, communities, and countries all over have banded together to turn fear into strength and anxiety into energy. In a world where people are afraid to get close, to touch, or go outside we still see the human spirit, connectivity, and desire to do good triumphing over fear.
Now more than ever we demonstrate our resiliency in the face of struggle and adversity. Despite hoarding, greed, and irrational fear-fueled behavior, people all over are working together to create their own normal. Since the COVID pandemic began, many communities have come together working to provide supplies, food, and assistance to those in need.
Hospitals; local distilleries using their facilities and knowledge to provide hand sanitizer during shortages; restaurants and school kitchens working around the clock to provide food and sustenance for those struggling; individuals volunteering in their areas to deliver food and medical supplies to the elderly. All of these are examples of the human spirit channeling fear, anxiety, and sorrow into something that can make a difference.
These incredible acts of care and concern have been accompanied by strangers coming together in acts of overwhelming togetherness and unity. Musicians across the world play to their neighbors from balconies letting them know “you are not alone”. People stand outside singing in unison across our nation in shows of solidarity and unity.
Communities organize car parades for parents and students to thank their educators in unison for their hard work and dedication to our youth. Hospitals receive donations of food and goodies to show their staff a unified appreciation for all they do and the risks they take. Throughout the COVID pandemic people have come together using their skills and knowledge to prevail through sorrow with acts of kindness, beauty, and love.
When Uncertainty Comes
As we condition ourselves to remain calm during these times, the fear of the unknown dissolves. Our lives enrich as we encounter novel experiences. In uncertainty, our brains and bodies get the chance to rewire together. This rewiring helps us move from fear of life to living life. Why else are we here on the planet?
Your car may be reliable 98% of the time, but that doesn’t promise that you will make it to work without a flat tire or beat city traffic. Even on your wedding day, unexpected weather could happen and cause some last-minute adjusting. Sometimes, just as you’re about to leave the house, your child or pet makes a mess. Because of this, now is a great time to reach out to respect and come to terms with the uncertain in a healthy way.
The brain has the job of delivering messages to your body. If your brain senses danger, then your body wants to stop whatever it was doing. Therefore, because we have learned what alertness feels like, we know not to walk out into the road if a car zooms past. If the brain has encountered the situation before, its job is to send signals to the body to remind you of the previous experience.
If you have ever burned your hand on something hot, the memory of hurting yourself gets stored away in your brain so it can remind you next time not to touch a hot surface. As we encounter more situations in life, our brain takes the information in, determines its level of safety, and then stores that memory away.
When we encounter a new situation, our brain is unaware of how to proceed, and so it triggers caution before making a decision. Caution in the body often feels like anxiety, stress, or nervousness that can cause you to freeze up. Since this creates discomfort in your body, many times a person will refrain from proceeding; however, not all unknown situations result in terror. Think about how you learned that you enjoy the things you do in life, you had to try them first! If you continue moving through life in fear of the unknown, you miss out on opportunities to explore unfamiliar things that you could end up liking. Life is an endless learning cycle and by refraining from discomfort or the unknown, you miss a moment of potential growth.
Unless you already live life on the edge, it’s difficult to train your brain to respond calmly to uncertain situations. You can start by shifting your mindset to believing in the possibilities in all situations. When some situations are presented to us, it’s a fortunate reminder to change how we habitually do things. We might have experienced a similar situation before, but that doesn’t mean the resulting outcome will be the same.
Understanding that those around you are just as unsure as you can be comforting, as it’s a reminder that your journey, though tough, is not a lonely one. We know it’s not easy, but right now is the best time to discover you, and then the rest will inevitably follow.
On the surface it may seem that the new normal of COVID is fear and uncertainty, a world no-one saw coming. Through everything people have continued to overcome the fear, obstacles, and uncertainty – banding together in shows of love and support. In a time of separation and a world of space between us, people are working together now more than ever to show unity and connectivity with one another. In crisis, people have stood together to help one another and create normalcy knowing that unified we are stronger.
The new normal of COVID is not only unity where we see strangers standing apart together in order to help their fellow man, but also for self care — mentally and physically.