Adapting to the ‘new normal’
Over the last 12 to 18 months our ways of working and the way we live our lives have been severely impacted by the pandemic and the restrictions we have been asked to live under. It has now become part of the new normal for many people to work remotely from home. For some this has been welcomed and easy to adjust to but for others it has been a big challenge – due to things such as a lack of a suitable place to work, having access to the right technology including having the skills to use it, not to mention the isolation of working alone every day. Depending on your type of work and previous experience it may have been a big stretch to adjust to working from home, using technology to both run your work life and to connect with friends and family online.
When I reflect back to March 2020, I remember feeling very stretched when trying to adjust the workshops that I normally ran face to face in a room to being on Zoom with all the attendees sat in their own homes. There was a lot to learn around delivering the workshop successfully online and how to keep the people attending engaged and connected with the content I was teaching.
At Fresh Air Fridays our work had been based outdoors and in groups. We took people into local green space to enjoy the connection to nature and learn tools to support their wellbeing. Yet when the pandemic started and we were all asked to stay at home, we could no longer run our sessions. We had to find new ways to support people in managing their wellbeing – which was even more necessary at that time as people tried to cope with a different life.
As I adjusted to this new way of working, after a few months I noticed that what had at first felt like a big stretch had become routine and was now within my comfort zone. We learn and grow most when we are stretched out of our comfort zones by the challenges we face.
When we choose to take a stretch it is hard but we can map out a course of action, take small steps towards our goal and pause to reflect on our progress. However, many of the challenges the pandemic has brought have not been stretches that we chose to take but ones that have been forced on us by circumstances. By stepping back and considering what we can do rather than what we cannot do, it helps us to adjust and stretch ourselves in a way that maintains our wellbeing.
Can we go back to how we were?
Now that restrictions are being eased, many people will return to work in offices and commuting to get there. This is something that we wouldn’t have stopped to think about last year but having been at home for over 12 months, how are you now feeling about going back to the way of working that you used to do? Is this now a stretch for you because you have learned a whole new way of living your life? Perhaps there is some fear and anxiety about returning to situations where there are lots of people.
I noticed a shifting of my comfort zone when I first drove my car on a long journey recently. It all felt a bit odd and like I was a learner driver again. I was back to feeling consciously competent about my skills rather than having the confidence in my abilities and remembering everything I needed to do. I soon settled into driving and it felt normal again but that first 30 minutes or so reminded me of how our comfort and stretch zones can shift.
It can be hard to move back into the old ways of working when so much around us has changed and there is still apprehension and fear about the coronavirus and it’s impact.
If you are feeling anxious or worried, come and join one of our regular Breathing Space sessions. In just 30 minutes you will learn tools to help you look after your personal wellbeing and be given time to talk through what is on your mind. You will leave equipped with strategies to take small daily actions that aid you in stretching your comfort zone without getting into stress.