Emerging into the New Normal

by Matt Edwards
Posted on 1st September 2020

Strange. Unprecedented. Unpredictable. Uncertain. Difficult. Many adjectives can be used to describe our experiences of the pandemic as it has swept the globe. Some countries are starting to ‘lift’ restrictions and lockdowns, attempting to emerge into some kind of ‘normality’. Other places are going into lockdown for the first or even second time. Whatever the situation, we are all having to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and the limitations of living with COVID-19.

Despite many negatives and restrictions, the pandemic has also given many people and organisations a chance to stop, pause and reflect. For some it has actually been a time of opportunity, creativity and trying new ways of doing life and work. It’s also potentially been a time to look at organisational core values and purpose, and see if how we were doing things, was aligned with that. If not, then changes may have already been made or we may need to think about changing things.

As we emerge into this ‘new normal’, we need to consider what can help us thrive. At Thrive Worldwide we have captured some key principles as to what ‘thriving’ means. For example, “thriving individuals form meaningful and loving connections with friends, family and their community”; “thriving is holistic - it involves body, mind and spirit”; “thriving people are resourceful, creative, imaginative, and fun loving”; and also - crucially at this time - “it is possible for people to thrive in the midst of pain and impossibly difficult circumstances”. To that end, here are some things you might like to consider:

Physical health: It is important to address chronic health matters that may have been neglected during the pandemic. Also make sure new health concerns and problems that have been put on hold are reviewed. Perhaps consider a wellness check to assess the ‘unseen’ health.

Wellbeing measures: Various things can be done to help your physical and mental wellbeing and boost your immune system. This includes exercising, maintaining a healthy diet / managing your weight (obesity has worse outcomes with COVID-19), reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption, stopping smoking and trying to develop good sleep habits or ‘sleep hygiene’.

Developing individual resilience: Concepts to think about and consider are cultivating optimism, processing difficult feelings, practicing mindfulness / meditation / being present, being creative, being kind to yourself and finding ways in all of this that work for you. Looking after your mind health and spiritual health will help your resilience in these difficult times.

Communication: This is important for you as an individual as well as for relationships and in work places. Talking to someone can help relieve tension, provide perspective and allow processing to take place.

Ongoing lifestyle changes in the ‘new normal’: Remember and continue to maintain hygiene measures. This includes hand hygiene (washing hands or using hand sanitizer regularly, and having facilities in place to do so); respiratory hygiene (wearing a mask, coughing or sneezing into the bend of an arm or a tissue); and general ‘environmental’ hygiene measures (the regular cleaning of touched and especially frequently touched surfaces). There is also an ongoing need to consider social distancing measures and reduced numbers gathering together.

Considerations for working safely: This all revolves around managing ‘risk’, using risk assessments and reducing risks to an acceptable level. Continue working from home where appropriate. Make your workplace and work environment COVID-19 secure. Protect people who are at higher risk. Ensure safe local and international travel.

Be kind to others: Isolation, separation, loss and grief are feelings, experiences and emotions that have been and are still present for lots of people during this pandemic. Navigating the lifestyle changes of the ‘new normal’, whilst offering creative ways to provide comfort, care, practical support, love and prayer are all important. We are social beings and need interaction and connection with each other and the world around us, we just need to be compassionate, resourceful and imaginative in how we do this. 

At a minimum, we all need to continue to follow the guidance of the government under which we live and work. Governments have different needs and responsibilities to try and balance during this pandemic and in some situations we may feel more comfortable with being more cautious, and implementing or continuing some of the above measures. But remember, even during these difficult, uncertain and challenging times we can still flourish and Thrive.

Thrive Worldwide has multiple resources and services available to help and support individuals and organisations to flourish and Thrive. To learn more visit thrive-worldwide.org

Matt Edwards has been Thrive Worldwide’s Medical Director since 2017. Prior to this he spent ten years as a partner at a GP surgery. He is passionate about promoting health and wellbeing in the whole-person context. He lives in Tunbridge Wells with his wife and three children.