Adjusting to the “New Normal,” Part 1: Personal Adaptation

Life throws curveballs at us often, and the coronavirus pandemic is just another one of those curveballs. Whether it’s working from home, sacrificing a hug from a loved one, or expenses related to postponed life events, like vacations or weddings, we’re all doing with the New Normal in some way, shape, or form (not to mention that we’re all tired of hearing it referred to that way).  Humanity has always adapted to environmental stimuli; but as Churchill once said, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” Here are some essentials to remember when you’re feeling corona-crazy:

It’s OK to feel down, and it’s OK to seek help.

All of us have weathered the chaos of the pandemic differently, and help with stress may seem out of reach given social distancing guidelines. These feelings are not rare; according to a recent poll conducted by the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation, “…nearly half (45%) of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the virus.” Some demographics may be eight times more likely to feel symptoms of mental illness than they were just two years ago. Some may even turn to self-medication with drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength and almost always results in personal growth. If you’re exceptionally stressed and unsure how to navigate your feelings, the National Alliance for Mental Health has a 24/7 phone line open for you to seek advice; it’s totally non-judgmental and a great resource.

You can’t control everything.

For example, you can’t control if your vacation gets cancelled due to flight restrictions, if you get laid off, or if the unemployment office is taking its sweet time sending your check. However, you are in control of your budgeting, your breathing, and whether you choose to stay present or get lost in anxiety over the future. Whether or not you’re religious, think of the Serenity Prayer – it’s helpful: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can… and the wisdom to know the difference.” In times of uncertainty, keeping focus on things you can control – taking care of your body, sleep habits, daily agenda and increased interaction with supportive people – is the best way forward. You can even try creating new routines for yourself; drink a cup of tea with lemon at the same time every day, watch your favorite show with dinner, or call a friend. Maintaining even a marginal sense of normalcy can go a long way.

And, finally, we’re all in this together.

There is something uniquely calming about experiencing hardship as a group. Maybe it’s the sense of belonging, maybe it’s being able to relate to one another, but solidarity tends to defeat adversity. If you can’t go visit your relatives, remember that there are millions of families in the same boat. If you can’t run at your favorite park, hundreds of counties across the country are in the same boat. Travel plans got busted? Same boat (this writer, specifically, is in that boat).

Chin up! We’ll be on the other side of this soon. And stay tuned for part two of this blog, where we’ll give you a third-month update on how the logistics industry is adapting to the pandemic as well.

5 Steps to Improve Your Work-From-Home Life

The ongoing global pandemic has forced many to find ways of earning an income from the comfort and safety of their own homes – and for anyone who has been sick for long periods of time before, this may not be new at all. Many have been converting the places where they normally eat, sleep, and spend time with love ones into remote offices and, while being home is nice (hint: sweatpants won’t show up during your team video calls!), combining separate work and personal brain spaces can be a struggle. Here are our five golden rules to take the WTF out of WFH:

1. Stick to your schedule.

If your work alarm is normally set to 6am… keep it! Your body is naturally synced up with a regular schedule – and while getting that extra hour of sleep may seem too good to pass up, you’ll be making unnecessary tweaks to your circadian rhythm. Avoid the easiest pitfall of working from home and stick to your normal hours as close as possible.

Take your normal lunchtime, too! Sticking to your routine means that your afternoon physiological downtime will happen right on schedule as well. In fact, take more breaks in general; the scientific consensus is that more healthy breaks equal better productivity.

2. Create a dedicated workspace.

Let’s assume that your friend (definitely not you) works as a consultant from their bedroom during a period of social distancing and has an incredibly cluttered workspace. Research has shown not only that your productivity can be destroyed by too many visual stimuli, but that device addiction is as bad as any other kind of substance abuseYour friend is at a significant psychological and business disadvantage. So, moving forward, try (*ahem* your friend should try) the following: turn all social notifications off, work somewhere that’s well-lit, and if your immediate space is full of random stuff, take the time to Marie-Kondo the hell out of it – cleaning does wonders for mental health!

3. Take breaks, and use them well.

Yes, many gyms are closed – but don’t let that stop you; this pandemic will be so much easier to get through with a healthy body and mind! Take the time you’d otherwise spend commuting, whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour-plus per day, and dedicate that time to some DIY workouts from your nearest available free space. Whether it’s push-ups, a quick jog around the block (while staying six feet away from your neighbors), or even just some basic stretches, you’ll come back to your inbox with a clean brain and an energized recommitment to getting things done.

4. Eat healthier.

Being surrounded by a stockpile of junk food can be just as bad as succumbing to the daily pressures of having a pizza place right next to the office. But those meal choices are often unhealthy, and you’ve got a great opportunity to form new habits during your extended work-from-home time. Take the time to cook at least one simple, healthy meal per day, like a salad or a roasted one-pan dish; eating healthier provides obvious benefits to the body and it’s easier to make the necessary lifestyle changes when they’re incremental. Giving your body the right fuel improves your ability to think, react, and feel, which will improve your life in beautiful ways.

5. Know When to Walk Away

Work is stressful, no matter where you’re situated, and if there is one major benefit of telecommuting, it’s having the ability to walk away from the computer and take a deep breath in privacy. The freedom from perceived judgment regarding a stressful work situation can be liberating and help restore your mental and emotional equilibrium, so feel free to just go into another room, stretch, or jog in place for a few minutes. You can quickly find the energy to refocus, plan, and execute – better than you would from your office.

These are uncertain times, and we should be grateful if we’re able to keep a steady income. A new situation presents a new opportunity to adapt to new challenges, but by making the best of our surroundings, we are each capable of coming out of this better equipped and more productive than ever.