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Regaining Normalcy in a Time of Uncertainty

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Nicole Hensley

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March 17, 2020

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Finding Normalcy in a Time of Uncertainty

Who would’ve thought that last week would’ve unfolded as it has? 

Although the world hasn’t been serving a whole lot of confidence lately (whether you’ve been feeling it in the last month, the last several years or beyond) I still believed that as of last Monday, “my world” was still functioning as usual.

Below is a picture of my last instagram post before the ‘hour by hour’ and ‘day by day’ changes that impacted each of our lives. 

Within the last seven days, my schedule (and for a majority of us), our foreseeable future has completely done a 180. 

My weekly calendar went from being filled with typical work meetings, coffee dates with friends, a dinner date with my husband and the typical mom schedule of getting my oldest ready for school, errand and grocery running to a completely blank slate. (Of course after a mad rush to the grocery store.)

The typical movement and flow of our everyday lives has come to a standstill and it has many of us feeling like we are spiraling out of control.

While some of us have lost jobs entirely (thinking of you, my hospitality friends) to those who already worked from home but now have children home with them (while still maintaining job responsibilities), it seems like many of us are struggling to find normalcy again. 


A special note to those that must continue to show up to work – those in medicine, fire and rescue, and other essential industries – I cannot fathom the set backs you are encountering. I wish this post could be more helpful for your situations. But I currently cannot speak to that. I am hoping to gather some input from my community to share strategies that are more helpful for you situations. Thank you so much for everything you are doing for humans, this country and this world


So, what can we do to try and regain that “normalcy” again when we all know that we’re really far from it?

Below I’m sharing five strategies to help you battle through these uncertain times in order to regain control of your life. 

pinpoint the areas/tasks in your life that make you feel “normal”

Even though most of us are are at the beginning of our longest stays at home away from others, we can try and make this time feel as “normal” as possible. 

I want you to write down a list of things you’d typically do on a day to day basis that makes you feel “normal”. The best way to start this list is by recognizing what you’re missing. 

Here is a list to get you started:

  • Going to the gym
  • Seeing friends or chatting with your co-workers
  • Getting ready in the morning
  • Running outside
  • Listening to your podcast or audio book while on your way to work

Now take those things and think of a way you can continue to incorporate those things into your new “social distancing” daily lives. 

  • Going to the Gym  Work Out at Home 
  • Seeing Friends and co-workers  Video Chats and Coffee with Friends and co-workers
  • Getting Ready in the Morning  ‘You can still do this! – So do it!’
  • Running Outside  ‘You can still do this! – So do it!’
  • Listening to your podcast or audio book while driving to work  “‘You can still do this! – So do it!’ – Whether you choose to pop in your headphones and listen while you empty the dishwasher, or don’t mind a little drive to nowhere, I encourage you to keep this going. 

create a schedule

A majority of us went from (I am generalizing here… my morning looked nothing like this with two kids) but for the sake of the example:

  • 6:30am – Alarm goes off
  • 6:40am – Make coffee and Breakfast
  • 7:00am – Shower and get ready for the day
  • 8:00am – Grab keys and head off to work
  • 9:00am – Work at office 
  • 6:00pm – Return home from work
  • 7:00pm – 10:00pm – Dinner, Relax and Before Bed Routine

To:

  • 6:30am – Wake up? Sleep in?
  • 7:00am – ? Idk, should I work? Read? Sleep in? Start a new Netflix binge?
  • 8:00am – Do I really need to shower?
  • 10:00am – Maybe I should make breakfast
  • 2:00pm – What even is life anymore?

The best thing to do when you feel like you are out of control is to add some structure back in.

Things to consider adding:

  • Your list of “What makes you feel normal”
  • New responsibilities: Kids now out of school? Remember, their schedule and structure has been upended too. Help them by creating their own schedule to add structure back in for them and add tasks that you need to assist them with, into your schedule.
  • Working from home with your spouse or stuck at home with a roommate? – Talk to them about your needs and ask them what theirs are too. If you each need quiet time/uninterrupted work time, etc, talk about when you can schedule that in and how. 
  • If you and your spouse need to share kids responsibilities but both need to continue with your work tasks, talk to each other about time division and when each of you can dedicate time to those things.

Below is an example of our household’s new schedule:

  • 7:00am – Wake up, brush teeth, shower and put on some fresh clothes
  • 7:30am – Make coffee (I’m not a breakfast person)
  • 7:40am – Determine top three goals of the day
  • 8:00am – Feed the kids
  • 8:30am – Turn on the news, catch up on social media
  • 9:00am – Answer work emails
  • 9:00am -12:00pm (Dedicated work time for my husband)
  • 9:45am – Prep for “schooling Caleb from home”
  • 10:00am – Hour of school lessons
  • 11:00am – Feed Caleb lunch/get baby down for first nap
  • 12:00pm – 12:30pm: Lunch time 
  • 12:30pm -3:30pm (Dedicated work time for me)
  • 1:30pm – Baby wakes up | feed baby
  • 2:00pm – Play time | reading time with the kids | more learning activities
  • 3:00pm – Get baby down for 2nd nap | snack time for Caleb
  • 3:30pm -5:00pm: Dedicated free time (Husband/Myself trade off every other day) Fill this space with what you need – tidying up the house, random projects, self reflection, working out, meditation catching up on extra work – the other person manages the kids)
  • 5:00pm – Catch up on the news | family chat time | baby wakes up from nap | feed baby
  • 6:00pm – Make dinner and eat as family
  • 7:00pm – Kids take baths
  • 8:00pm – Aiden goes down for bed
  • 8:30pm – Winding down with the family – Relaxation time, reading books, watching movies 
  • 10:00pm – Bed Time 

Note: Your schedule will most likely change from its first outline. As you continue to actually live through your days, you will see what works and what doesn’t, what you need to schedule more time for, where you over budgeted time, etc. There will also be days that just simply do not go to plan. Don’t let that get to you. It happens.

Another Note: Every single one of our schedules will look different from one another. Those that don’t have kids or a spouse and now have 24 hours a day to themselves, may want to add in workout time, dedicated reading time, Netflix time vs. Hulu time.. ;). Regardless of what your schedule looks like, the point is that at the end of the day, rather than feeling like you are floating through time, we are developing some sort of structure to help you feel grounded. 

check in with your mental state

I tend to be a person who easily finds myself adjusting to others’ emotions and personalities while consciously encouraging them to meet me at a more positive and optimistic outlook (when they are feeling the opposite). 

It’s something that comes in super handy when in sales meetings, working with new vendors or in the midst of chaos at work. 

To be honest with you, although I’m a business owner in the events industry (and getting hit hard with event changes, contract cancellations and an extreme hit to revenue which translates personally to my income) I am feeling quite confident. Call me crazy, but as a person who thrives on being supportive to my couples during their times of anxiety, big decisions and unavoidable wedding day emergencies, times of panic tend to be when I walk away feeling most impactful. 

What I haven’t experienced before COVID-19 hit was the constant spew of negativity and uncertainty. It has gotten to the point where I am finding myself doubting my confidence and second guessing my strength. I’ve caught individuals assuming everyone else is feeling just like they are, or telling others that they are wrong if they don’t feel as low or as worried. While everyones’ feelings are absolutely valid, for me, the flood of negativity has effected my mental state and who I am naturally as an optimistic person.  

There is total truth to the negative concerns. Because at this point, there is so much uncertainty to people’s livelihoods, dreams and health. But because we cannot speculate the future in any capacity, we really don’t know if we will walk away from this with a bruise or the ability to walk at all. 

What I’m getting to here is that I’ve found it helpful to make sure you acknowledge your feelings and mental health in the pursuit of finding normalcy. Below are some ways you can implement this into your schedule.

  • Meditate – I personally LOVE the calm app. 
  • Turn off the News, but stay informed – I used to be a person who had it on 24/7. It’s too much to handle now and my anxiety levels were through the roof listening to the same 5 “breaking news” stories over and over. I dedicate two times of the day now to catch up and stay informed.
  • Start a Gratitude or Feelings Journal – I have started this and have put it into my winding down time of the day. It helps me unload my thoughts and feelings before I head to bed so that I can have a clear mind. 
  • Acknowledge your feelings as they sprout up – When you are worried, feel worried. Sad, feel sad. What is important here is to work through the reasons why those feelings came about. Did you see something on Facebook? Did a friend text you saying something worrisome or negative? Dive into your feelings and work backwards through a map of what led you to the feeling or thought. Write it all down and come up with some action plans to help you get back to positivity sooner the next time it happens. 

What I want you to take away is the understanding that you need to check in with your thoughts, your anxieties and your feelings. Everything you are feeling right now is valid. Whether it’s feeling confident about your small business when others are freaking out, whether you’re afraid of catching the virus when people keep telling you “it’s not a big deal if YOU DO catch it…

You are entitled to feel all of these feelings!!! The good and the bad!

Just find a time to dive deeper into them. When you do that, you are promising yourself that you’ll take the time to acknowledge those feelings. When you schedule in a time for emotion and self reflection, I promise, it will help you from feeling anxious the entire day. 

make plans for the future

One of the worst feelings is the feeling of despair. 

We need to continue to look towards the light at the end of the tunnel. It is there. The walk may be longer than we anticipated, but on the good side, it means we have a little bit of extra time to plan for the future ahead. 

Think about some of the extra time you now have on your hands. Even if it’s the 2 hours you saved from your commute…this is exactly the time you’ve been waiting for! What was the last thing you wanted to work on, but told yourself you didn’t have the time to work on?

  • Learning a new language?
  • Finally getting around to starting your side hustle?
  • Catching up on those blogs you need to write?

Start those things! Just because we are in a “lull” right now, doesn’t mean it will stay like this forever. 

My husband and I are planning a fall trip to Disney for the kids. We are talking about where we will stay, what parks we will visit, what we will eat and how freaking excited we are for it. That after this tumultuous year, we’ll have something incredible to look forward to. 


It isn’t to say that plans won’t change. Those who were planning weddings in the next 8 weeks had to change plans due to a reason that at one point was considered unfathomable! 


My family is staying confident that by fall we will all be in better, healthier positions. That we will be boarding a plane to Florida to soak up the sunshine and some magic. 

What is something that you can put into future plans that can make you smile brighter today? 

  • Maybe it will be reflecting on all the books you read during these next 2-6 weeks!
  • Maybe it’s coming out the other end with an organized home, an emptied out closet and a color coded bookshelf.
  • Maybe it’s taking the time to slow down and actually play with your children who are usually at school all day. 

Think about what you were missing before this happened because “you didn’t have the time”, and use this extra time now to do them!

take it day by day

The last thing I want to remind you is that we can only take this day by day. Just as we witnessed last week, things can change and change drastically from hour to hour. Don’t spend too much of your time speculating. 

Stop the chatter of the “what if” worst case scenarios and start focusing on what is in your current control at this moment. Plan with what you currently have on your plate and when the next challenge arrises, pivot and get back on track. 

Don’t lose sense of your life. 

This is a moment in time that has been rockier than we all would like. 

Start reflecting. 

Start documenting everything you are grateful for. Now that we are in this moment, we are realizing how much we miss the connections and in person time with our friends and family members, the simplicity of what we took for granted like the calm of the drive in to work (and toilet paper!). 

Each day is a new day. The sun sets and it rises again, use what is in your control at the moment and let go of the worry of the future instability because, you have today. 


I hope that these strategies can help you locate the peace and calm that we’ve been scrambling to find lately. 

If you need someone to talk through these challenges with, or even have ideas to share with the community, I encourage you to reach out to me! We all need a little more connection and support from one another nowadays. 

Stay well,

Nicole

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