Last week, I drove to an office, taught virtually, collaborated with colleagues while socially distanced and wearing masks, and then drove home at the end of the day. I was exhausted by the intensity of the training but exhilarated by how fun and energizing it was to do something that felt “normal,” something familiar that I’d done before the pandemic.
While I have written about the big neutral zone we are all living in, and have suggested strategies for dealing with this time of uncertainty and the unknown, I still find myself soaking up moments or experiences of normalcy, or what we used to consider “normal” before Covid. The ease of slipping into something familiar that takes less effort and feels comfortable is lovely and seductive.
I write and speak often about embracing the insecurity of this time and about exploring and experimenting to learn new and better ways to live our lives. Yet, I find it so enjoyable and relaxing to do things that are familiar and require little effort.
One of the big challenges right now is the extra cognitive load required to get through daily routines. It takes more thinking, planning, and emotional and cognitive energy than it did pre-Covid when there was more predictability and we had to think less about every aspect of life. (I still frequently forget my mask when I leave my home and have to go back for it- just one small, extra cognitive burden throughout my day.) With all the additional small and large efforts our brains have to make, no wonder a taste of “normal” is so enjoyable.
I strive to accept and embrace this time of unknowns, and I try to explore new ideas and ways of doing things, all in keeping with the coping strategies I prescribe for making the most of the neutral zone. And yet, it is so very nice to do things that feel familiar and normal and take less thought, planning, and effort! Perhaps that is why my Friday night ritual of watching mindless TV feels even more enjoyable right now.
I hope you still have the opportunity to include “normal” activities in your day once in a while, as you navigate the challenges, uncertainties, and new adventures during this anything-but-normal time.
Stay safe and take good care of yourself.