If you’re finding yourself struggling with the new normal, you aren’t alone. While things have begun to settle after the initial shock and response to the pandemic they are certainly not the same. This is what we’ll refer to as the Covid hangover and y’all, it’s lingering. It’s making a Jagermeister hangover look like a walk in the park. And, the new normal might just be here to stay so let’s talk about what this might look like for you and how to adjust.
Between working and schooling from home and the lack of company a lot of us have struggled to keep up with housekeeping. Let’s face it, the house gets more messy when everyone is is it. We all struggled to find balance while working from home. And to top it off, no one was going to see the mess so there wasn’t much motivation to tackle it. Getting the house in order has become an overwhelming, daunting task. And, let’s be honest, most of us still aren’t having much company. The new normal for many is living in a mess and feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by it.
It’s interesting to observe how much housework is done for the purpose of preparing for visitors. Without concerns for the judgement of others many of us were finally able to let go of our household expectations. And this is a GOOD thing (though I know many of you feel otherwise). It allows us to reevaluate and reset the bar. Sure, you’d like to have a more tidy home than you currently do. But that doesn’t mean you have to go back to your previous state of stress and workload at keeping it up. Take this opportunity to create a balance. What really matters to you to get done? What bugs you most? Make your home a livable space for you, as a kindness to you.
Stop living in a messy home that is stressing you out or a tidy home that feels overwhelming to maintain. Instead, create a new normal where your home reflects what matters most to you! Embrace the idea of taking care of your home for yourself not for the purpose of living up to the expectations of others. And let company come regardless of your home’s tidiness.
The new normal for many of us means that we are surrounded by clutter. Between using things we had stored during lockdown, the inability to donate during that time, and the online shopping habit many of us developed we have A LOT of stuff!
A lot of us (myself included) keep a lot of stuff on the off chance that we may need it one day. And it turns out we did! During the pandemic shut downs many of us found ourselves using our rainy day items. People began canning, crocheting, and baking sourdough bread as never before. It turned out that all those someday supplies became very useful especially for those of us in more restrictive lockdown states (like me). Here in Michigan we not only had stay at home orders but some stores and sections of stores were restricted. During portions of the lockdown gardening, home improvement, and crafting sections of stores were roped off. So, we were reliant on what we had in storage to keep ourselves occupied. This reinforced the “I might need it some day mentality” and has increased our clutter post Covid.
And, even if you did want to declutter at that time, you couldn’t. Most places weren’t taking donations. So if your big lockdown project was organization you likely found yourself storing bags and boxes of items to be donated. And, well, you probably still have them!
If you don’t want living in clutter to be part of your new normal there are a few things you can do about it.
- Get rid of things you don’t need. Consider using the 6 month box technique to get started.
- Remember you can order things you really do need.
- Seek therapy if you are struggling. Sometimes professional help is neccessary.
- Use the 24 hour rule, before checking out online wait 24 hours then review your cart to reduce impulse purchases.
- Have a place for any new items you bring into your home.
- Create containment systems for the things you’re keeping. When they are full don’t buy more unless you get rid of something to make room for it.
- Schedule a donation pick up. Several organizations will come right to your home for pick up, find one here.
Living in clutter doesn’t have to be part of the new normal. But again, this is about what you prefer. If you love your cluttercore style there is absolutely no need to change it (assuming it’s safe).
One of the biggest challenges still faced in the new normal is the breakdown of habits and routines. This is creating a particularly big problem as people are beginning to return to the office. Many of us didn’t just stray from our routines through the pandemic, we destroyed them. While we may have still been working we were doing it at all times of day, meals started slipping, and many of us were surprised to find that after not wearing them for a year, none of our real pants fit any more.
If you’re struggling to get back in the swing of things because your habits and routines have fallen by the wayside it’s time to reestablish them. Start small with the ones that are most important or impactful. And consider checking out The Routinely App to keep track of everything and set custom reminders. One of my favorite things about the app is that it sets you up for success by allowing you to give yourself grace. Plus it’s the only habit and routine app that allows custom schedules and skips.
Despite the end of stay at home orders and the lifting of restrictions on gatherings many of us are still lonely. We got out of the habit of leaving the house, visiting others, and most of us lost people we love. Communities have become divided and friendships lost either due to the prolonged absence or because of differing view points. And in many cases, these differing view points were more misunderstandings and reactive responses than true differences.
Continuing to stay at home won’t help you overcome the loneliness. It may be time to reach out to old friends and make arrangements to see each other again or work to clarify differences. You may also want to consider taking a plant, some veggies from your garden, or a batch of cookies to neighbors you’ve lost touch with. You could even work with them to plan a block party or some other fun event.
If you don’t feel you have relationships worth rekindling don’t worry, it’s not a hopeless cause. You aren’t alone in seeking new friends in the new normal. Consider joining a group with similar interests (like a church group, bowling league, or running club). Or you could simply join a gym. And don’t forget, online relationships count too. Join a book club or a membership group like Inner Circle to create new connection.
Mental Health Challenges
Unfortunately the new normal includes some pretty unsettling mental health challenges. During the pandemic there was a significant rise in rates of anxiety and depression (especially in young people and women). And unfortunately this hasn’t improved as much as was hoped. Adjusting to life after a global trauma as significant as this was is far more difficult than most of us anticipated. Add to that some very stressful election cycles and a tense political climate, increased crime, and cost of living and well, it kinda feels like the world’s going to Hell in a handbasket (as my grandma would say). Shaking depression and anxiety when all the news is bad news and it feels like it isn’t getting better any time soon is tough.
Mental health care is vitally important so be sure to talk to your doctor about you symptoms and consider therapy. But remember it doesn’t stop there. Practicing good mental health hygiene can make a tremendous difference as well.
- Getting plenty of rest
- Nourishing and hydrating your body
- Getting in some movement every day
- Connecting with others
- Reducing negative input (news shows or social media accounts that increase feelings of hopelessness or anxiety)
- Practicing self care
- Spending time outdoors
- Engaging in hobbies and other enjoyable activities
It’s important to take care of not only your physical but also your mental health and it’s time to reprioritize that.
The New Normal
The new normal is here to stay and we can learn a lot from all that’s happened the past few years. But we can’t go back no matter how much we want to. Reestablishing our routines and connections, and creating clarity about what we need and want in our homes will help us embrace this new normal and truly make it feel simply normal. Where will you start your journey?