I’m thinking about my new normal lifestyle after the pandemic restrictions are lifted.
Earlier this month the Premier announced a regional re-opening of businesses and services in Ontario.
Best of all, last Friday, June 12, Ontario announced that it would allow people to define a safe social circle of 10 people! I jumped for joy as it meant we could have a family get together! We celebrated with a pizza dinner that included many hugs and lots of happy shenanigans from our grandchildren. Libations were included but weren’t necessary as the excitement of visiting without restrictions provided cause for celebration!
Although the State of Emergency will continue until June 30, regions of the province with low rates of COVID-19 occurrence can move to phase 2 and open patios, mall stores, pools, splash pads, churches, and beauty salons beginning on June 12. Gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed so long as social distancing and mask-wearing are practised.
Our home is located in one of the regions allowed to move into phase 2. However, the county where our cottage is located remains stuck in phase 1 until June 19 when we’ll have access to our beautiful beaches or parks once again.
For readers who are unfamiliar with the size of Ontario — imagine the geography of Texas and California combined. Ontario has a landmass with large urban centres (think the Greater Toronto Area with more than 6 million people), many border cities (think Niagara or Windsor or Cornwall), and sparsely populated forested areas in the Northern part of the province (think fishing lodges, remote mining communities and fly-in First Nations). COVID-19 has affected each part of the Province differently.
With re-opening, it’s time to think of lifestyle changes as the ‘new normal’ becomes reality.
Lifestyle After the Pandemic
Lessons from the pandemic will change the way I live and how I understand things. There is no question that social distancing, mask-wearing and hand hygiene will be required — perhaps for months — as the virus is still out there. Handshaking and hugs with people who are not part of one’s social circle are distant memories. Socializing, even when it’s a backyard gathering with social distancing in place needs careful consideration.
Many of us will think twice before travelling on a plane or any form of public transit. Regardless of whether we are germophobes, it may be months before attending a movie, a wedding or funeral, a baseball game or a concert is considered. Shopping online will continue as many of us won’t go into indoor retail shops unnecessarily.
What’s My New Normal?
With too many quiet hours during this lock-down to reflect on the things that are important in life, I’ve focused on resolutions for how I want to live after the pandemic. With whom will I spend time? How do I want to live? Who do I want to invite into my life? What will I let go of because it no longer serves me? Will I miss this special time of doing nothing?
I’ll deepen connections with family and friends. I’ll re-start the weekly family dinners and outings with grandchildren. From my family and friends, I receive comfort, guidance, and support. I love them and they love me. I will withhold judgement, forgive more, and, smile more. I will take the time to listen more and understand each person’s story.
To maintain a ‘slow living’ approach, I’ll keep designated days each week with no activities in my calendar. Learning how to do nothing during this time of ‘doing nothing’ has been a blessing. I had time to cook without rushing meal preparation. I had time for neglected hobbies. I had time to goof-off without feeling guilty. Blank days in my calendar will give time after the pandemic to appreciate life and appreciate stillness.
I will focus on self-care. Aside from getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating nutritious foods, during the pandemic I enjoyed simple pleasures such as spending sunny days outdoors, reading good books and watching old movies. I learned again that pleasure is a good thing. Through anxious moments, knitting projects kept my hands and my mind occupied. I re-discovered a love for my gardens at home and at our cottage. Caring for plants inspires me to care for myself, both physically and emotionally. It reminds me that many areas of my life need ‘water’ to flourish.
As I design the new normal, I’ll blend hope with realism. I’ll keep a safe distance from others, forego entertaining and limit social interactions. Because the virus remains a threat, I’ll be thoughtful and intentional about actions and behaviours that may be risky.
Finally, I won’t beat myself up if I fail at some of these resolutions! Self-forgiveness was essential during the long days of isolation when it was difficult to focus. When I spent hours doing nothing or when I felt anxious and worried, I learned to lower the bar of self-expectations. Who cared if my accomplishments for the day were less than I planned?
I recognize that re-thinking is necessary for how I will live in the post-pandemic ‘new normal’. The usual summer routine won’t happen as we are in a strange holding pattern that’s likely to last for most of the summer and may continue until a vaccine is available.
Some restrictions are lifted but COVID-19 should not be taken lightly in our impatience to resume our previous lifestyle.
Thanks for reading this post. Have you made resolutions about your lifestyle after the pandemic restrictions end? Please send your thoughts by way of a comment.