The phrase “new normal” feels like a misnomer, because nothing about the current situation is normal. Here in Missouri, things are beginning to open back up, with safety practices remaining in place. While some freedoms are being returned, we still have several weeks of isolation and change to recover from.
I have been working from home since the end of March, and while most work-from-homers are itching to get back to the office, I am content working from home and am hoping to continue working from home most days even after this is over now that I have the ability to do so. However, working from home or not, my job itself has been very different during the pandemic.
I work in the SBA department at a bank, which means that things have been unbelievably busy for me for the last month, and I’ve lost all track of my usual routine and sense of normalcy as a result. I used to get up at 5:30am, wake up my son and get him some breakfast, then hide out in my office/yoga studio/personal me space to do some yoga with a meditation playlist while my salt lamp and a candle burn.
Since the pandemic, my kids have been out of school and swapping every other week between my house and their dad’s house. When they’re here, they sleep until at least 9:30 every day so I’m not getting up until 6-6:15, and then I’ve gone straight to work. By 6:30am most every day I’ve been in my office working to process PPP loans. Then I would work until 5, and most evenings would get back on and work some more after dinner until I went to bed. And somewhere in between I had assignments and final projects for two college classes to complete.
In a word – stressful. I’ve lost my time for myself at all times of the day. I’ve felt overwhelmed with constant busyness and the feeling that there was no light at the end of the tunnel. So many times I needed a break but couldn’t have one. One whole week when the kids were gone, Michael and I did takeout every night just so I wouldn’t have to meal plan, prep and cook. I’ve been exhausted and ready for bed by 8:30pm.
This week things are slowing. The semester is over at school. I’m back to being able to work normal hours. I can resume my normal life, but it’s presented a problem that I didn’t see coming – I don’t remember what normal is, and I’ve grown so accustomed to being busy that I don’t know what to do with myself now that I’m not feeling overwhelmed. I never expected to feel thrown off and out of place by getting my life back to normal.
Do you feel the same way?
Most of us have had our lives disrupted in some way by the pandemic, and are going to begin returning to normal, which means many of you are probably feeling the same way. Here is are some tips for getting out of the rut and back into a place of normalcy.
Revisit Your Routine
Think back to before the pandemic. Did you have a regular routine? If so, take out a pen and paper and write down what it was. What time did you wake up in the morning? What were your habits? What did you do before work? Can you resume this, or do you need to alter it?
I was getting up at 5:30am, waking up Hunter and getting him breakfast, then going to my office to light a candle, turn on the salt lamp and do some yoga – most mornings. Hunter is no longer in school so there is no need for a 5:30 alarm. I also am not driving to the office as I am now working from home, so I need to alter my routine. Wake up at 6, take some quiet time to sit and reflect, and fill out my bullet journal. Then do some yoga before starting work at 7:30.
If your job has changed like mine has, how so? If the duties are different, write down a plan of action or a new schedule for yourself that works in the change. If the duties are the same, but maybe you’re working from home, write down a new schedule or routine for yourself here.
For me, it has been both. I started working from home, and also went from processing normal 7a and Express loans, as well as Change in Terms for existing loans, to dedicating 150% of my time to PPP loans. Now the emergency SBA funds are slowing down and I’m starting to go back to my regular job. So I need to revisit checklists, start using the scheduling calendar again, and resume planning out my day around closing schedules. I also need to figure in one day per week to go back into the office to scan in loan documents that have been Fed-Ex’d to me and assemble files.
What has changed about your evenings since the pandemic? Are you sitting at home when you’ve been used to going out? Has being home all day created a division between your work and home life? Are you home with love ones, or home alone?
If you’ve been working from home and are going back to work, the division between work and home will come up naturally again. If you’re still working from home, now is the time to create that division. Where are you working? Do you have a designated room or office space, where you can leave the room at the end of the day and not go back until it’s time to work again?
If not, then consider creating a transition. Some sort of a wrap-up routine to divide work from home. It could be as simple as shutting things down, putting cups or dishes in the sink, then going to sit on the patio for 10 minutes before moving on with your home life.
If you are in a state where things are opening back up, then maybe you can start planning an evening per week to go out and meet up with a couple of friends. I have a close-knit friend group and it will be nice to see them all again. One of the things on my agenda is to get us all together for some dinner again soon. A few of them have birthdays coming up between the 15th and 21st of the month, so we can plan a gathering for them.
Allow Your Feelings, and Don’t Make Yourself Wrong
If you’ve been home alone and you’re feeling isolated, take some time to sit and reflect on how you’re feeling about that. If you aren’t already, get out a journal and write about it. You need an outlet for these feelings so that you don’t end up suppressing them. Acknowledge how you feel, and allow yourself those feelings without guilt or making yourself wrong.
Giving weight to what is in your head and on your heart will help you to move past it. Change is hard for most people, and we’ve been going through a great deal of change in the last couple of months. If you’re feeling lost due to those changes, you are not alone in feeling that way.
When things slowed down at work after being insanely busy and working lots of overtime, I felt lost. When the stress wasn’t there anymore, I’d forgotten how to be in a place of calm. It felt strange to not have a constant feeling of pressure like there was something I needed to do. I needed to acknowledge this and get through feeling lost, uncertain, confused, and like something was missing, before I could act on a new routine and start to feel normal again.
Pick Back Up Old Hobbies
If there’s something you used to do before this that you are now putting on hold, start doing it again. For me, that is writing here for you. Between the semester coming to a close at school and the explosion of PPP processing at literally all hours of the day, weekends too, I was writing on this site twice per week. I was developing recipes, studying nutrition, writing articles, writing blog posts. I’ve had to stop all of that, so an obvious first stop was to get on here and start writing again just as soon as I had time.
Maybe for you it’s art or crafting. Can you go pick up some supplies for a project? Maybe it’s sports, which have been cancelled. Can you call up a friend and hit some golf balls or toss a ball around? Batting practice? If you’re outdoorsy, go for a hike or go fishing again, take the kayak to the lake, do some gardening. It might feel almost strange to do these things after such a long break, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly you start to feel normal again after spending a little time with your favorite acitivity.
Now that I have the time to come back to writing, I have some things in store for you. I created a new recipe for Roasted Red Pepper & Cauliflower Soup that I will be sharing on Monday. I also have some new Tacos to share, which you may have already seen if you follow the Beetitudes Instagram page. I also have a new article in the queue from March about the gut-brain connection that I will be working on.
That one will take a little longer to get out due to research, plus Michael and I have an anniversary trip next weekend that we will be preparing for this week. It was rescheduled from about six weeks back, and we are very much looking forward to it. I will be sure to do a blog post about it here. We have a cabin rented in the mountains for the weekend. We are planning to do some hiking, get a couple’s massage, eat a nice anniversary dinner, and enjoy some downtime on a deck with a hot tub overlooking a creek – we can’t wait!
If you are working on getting back to normal too, I wish the best to you. Stay safe, and be patient with yourself as you navigate this change.