Adapting to the new normal


“Get used to the new normal” has become a catchall phrase for the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Lives of young, old, youth and children have been turned topsy-turvy due to the fear and challenges posed by the disease. Coping with it has become the ‘New Normal’. Optimists might say that the lockdown created more family time, helped people with online tambola, old friends got, some learnt new skills while tried out some new recipes, etc. But the fact remains that stress levels have soared.

According to medical experts, mental health problems are likely to increase exponentially both at the individual and community levels as the impact of the coronavirus. The psychological feelings of fear, loss, and helplessness may lead to higher levels of anxiety and depression.

While news about rapid spread of positive cases is creating panic, news about pay cuts and layoffs is triggering a lot of uncertainty and fear on the professional front. Work from home has resulted in a new challenge. It creates a dilemma about work. It blurs the work-life balance with work stretching through the day into family time. People managing children with online classes and exams are finding it even more stressful.

It’s time to take action and pay attention to our physical and emotional health. The better we feel, the better prepared we’ll be to manage stress without being overwhelmed.

Symptoms to watch out for

It is important for us to understand our body and mind well. Observe if you have developed any symptoms in the past few months, which are uncommon for you. If you find such symptoms, it means you are under stress. Following are a few symptoms which signal that you are stressed:

Lack of concentration, negativity, anxiety, palpitations, avoiding people and work, lethargy, low self-esteem, low self-confidence, disturbed sleep, hopelessness, headaches, digestive disorder, loss of appetite, fear and worry about your own health, increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other substance, etc.

Time to act & seek solution

So let’s understand what we can do now to overcome these symptoms. When we are under stress, we forget about maintaining basic discipline in our life as our main focus is on negative news. We forget about exercising, eating right, sleeping in time, etc. So, here are five main methods to deal with stress effectively.

* Regular physical exercise. When we exercise, our body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins help deal with stress and reduce feelings of pain. Practice any kind of physical exercise like walking, aerobics, cycling, and yoga for at least half-an-hour to 45 minutes daily.

* Balanced diet. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals, fibre-rich food and proteins. Use sugar in moderation as it causes exhaustion of adrenal glands. This can result in irritability and poor concentration. When under stress, avoid caffeine which is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, coke, etc. Avoid fried food and animal food.

* Deep, undisturbed and restful. We usually give less importance to sleep. To feel more energetic and optimistic, we need to ensure that we daily go for 7-8 hours of uninterrupted and deep sleep.

* Meditation relieves. This age-old practice not only can be a quick-fix stress reliever to help you reverse your body’s stress response but it also helps you build resilience to stress.

* Breathing exercise helps. Practising deep breathing exercise relaxes your mind, decreases stress and can help you sleep better.

Time to take charge

So, let’s shift our focus from circle of concerns to circle of influence, things which we can influence like our mental and physical health. Understand yourself well and practise those techniques that suit your mind and body. Take a few steps at a time and you will feel peaceful and more relaxed.

Stay healthy, stay productive.

(The writer is a Sr. Training Consultant, Soft Skills Facilitator, Stress Management Professional and Certified High Impact Presenter.)

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