I talk a lot about coping with the “new normal” when it came to my Mom’s dementia. My “new normal” included the acceptance of who she would become from the ravages of Dementia and how different my entire world was. The role shift we experienced as I became the caregiver to those who once cared for me was devastating and challenging.
My Mom’s dementia created a “New Normal”
I learned an incredible amount about myself and how I dealt with change. I had to fight my fear, resentment, and unconscious refusal to believe what was happening. My old habits died hard. It was really difficult and a constant work in progress. I tried not to long for the “old normal” and encourage myself to be open to all the change the “new normal” brought with it. It was messy and sloppy and imperfect but I did get through it and actually learned to embrace change a little.
Covid-19 has created a “New Normal”
We are now in global “new normal”. Our world has been turned upside down with COVID-19. I’m anxious and worried as many of us are with this game-changer. The stakes are high for all of us but even higher for those of us who care for someone vulnerable and at high risk.
I find myself applying the techniques I used for adapting to the change in my Mom
To cope with this global shift and changing times, I find myself resorting back to some of the strategies I applied when I was faced with the loss of my life as I knew it when I became a Caregiver Warrior for my parents. I want to share some of those strategies with you. I’m hoping one or two of them might make a little bit of difference and give you some actionable things to do to stay hopeful and positive.
1. Take it slow.
Give yourself some time to adjust to this. I know it feels like the apocalypse and the immediacy of it all is overwhelming, but give yourself a break. You are adjusting as quickly as you can. Slowly but surely you will lock into this and it’s rhythm and maybe even get in a groove. We are extraordinary beings, built with resources and mechanisms to survive and even thrive. They will kick in. Hear me loud and clear when I say “you got this”. Don’t beat yourself up about how fast you are handling the learning curve. You will get there.
2.One day at a time
Stay in today. Just for today. It’s so easy for all of us to project into the future but the reality is that we can only be sure about what is happening today. That’s the only real frame of reference we have. If the whole day becomes too big to deal with, just deal with right now. Asking ourselves what we need to do right now to make ourselves feel better and move forward is more than enough. We can build our day around dealing with right now. And it will be a good solid day, build on lots of right nows. It’s like trying to take small bites and enjoying the food instead of trying to gulp it all down at once.
Here’s the old standby that has kept me sane, healthy and alive for years. Take your emotional temperature every day. Take the HALT test. HALT if you are H (hungry) and eat something healthy. HALT if you are A (angry) and take the time to acknowledge you are angry and process it in a healthy way by talking about it or taking a break. HALT if you are L (lonely) and pick up the phone, call, skype or zoom with someone. HALT if you are T (tired) and either get some rest or pause, close your eyes and breathe. Take the HALT test numerous times a day if you must.
Sound like a crazy time to pamper yourself? Well, actually it’s the best time to pamper yourself! The more we nurture ourselves and those around us the more grounded, and centered we become. Pampering can include hobbies, yoga, Pilates, the exercise of any kind, meditation, music, hot baths, facials, and anything that gives you pause and lowers your stress level. I am thrilled and amazed by all the interesting free concerts and exercise and mediation classes on Facebook, YouTube, and social media. Turn off the news and turn yourself on with the good, positive activities and content that is uplifting, calming and motivational. Now is the time to nurture and drink out of a glass half full.
Even in isolation or lockdown, we have the opportunity to reach out to others. Phone calls, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, texts, even going outside and talking to neighbors from 6 feet away work to connect us! We live in a miraculous time of digital wonder so take advantage of it. I actually went on a zoom 12 step meeting last night and it was terrific! For those of us in recovery, it’s a chance to stay in recovery from our couch! Dream come true!
6. Try to be flexible
Flexibility is a tremendous way to work through the fear of change. When we are rigid and uncompromising we make ourselves so unhappy and impossible to please. When we are flexible and open to new experiences, we can actually begin to find new and creative ways to cope with the new normal. Life is so much easier when we give up our expectations. We can see possibilities instead of problems.
We will see spring again
I hope these simple tactics bring you some comfort. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you and your families. I cannot even fathom the trials and challenges some of you are going through. I will keep you in my heart so you are not alone. I truly believe that like the trees whose leaves are now spouting after a long barren winter, you will see spring again. Please stay in touch and share your thoughts in the comments below. Much Love.