Mental wellness during our “new normal”

Karie Batzler MS, LPC, Director of Behavioral Health, Capital Blue Cross

Whether we like it or not, COVID-19 has shifted all of us into a “new normal”. This way of life has impacted most of our everyday routines…whether we were emotionally prepared for the change or not. Without a lot of warning, we were expected to shelter-in place and limit the types of contact that we have with our friends, family and neighbors. Family time has become a recurring in-home event of cooking, eating, cleaning, and sleeping. For those who live alone, there is the added strain of companionship only being available as a completely virtual event.

Sunshine in a forest

Our emotional well-being also needs time to adjust.

When we lose someone or something, our brain begins a grieving process. Whether we realize it or not, the frustration, sadness, anger and bewilderment that many us have felt due to the pandemic is a part of this grieving process. Admittedly, some days it is easier to adjust to the new normal than others. It is natural to feel the discomfort regarding the many ways this pandemic has changed our lives.

We don’t have to agree with a change in order to find a way to accept it.

Adjusting to this new normal involves accepting the temporary loss of some of our everyday routines. When we allow ourselves to strike the delicate balance of recognizing that our lives have changed, and then actively lean-in to the process of finding small ways to compensate, it goes a long way toward maintaining our overall mental wellness. Acceptance is a critical step in moving past our grief.

Grief is a multifaceted emotion. Denial doesn’t work.

Stereotypically, we associate the feelings of grief and loss with the passing of a loved one. It is important to realize that in times such as these, when our lives have changed so unexpectedly, that experiencing grief and the accompanying feelings of loss are a health step in our mental wellness. Left unchecked, grief can become an intense emotional downward spiral if it is ignored. Denying this new normal by stubbornly attempting to keep our old routines puts us at risk of fueling a powerful cycle of depression and resentment.

Take some action…no matter how small.

Find someone to talk about the challenges of adjusting to our new normal. Strap on a mask and take a walk or a run and feel the sunshine on your face. Take a few minutes in your home to create a few rules and boundaries that separate your work-at-home life from your personal life. Acknowledge the challenges that you face because of the physical distancing that is required to keep you and the people you love well and safe.

Design a new rhythm.

Each of us is a unique combination of facts, figures, relationships, emotions and routines. Take a few minutes to think about how your routine has changed, and identify a few small steps that will provide you a little extra emotional support. It really helps to come-up with creative ways that allow you to both acknowledge your losses while at the same time, beginning to devise methods to create a new rhythm for your mental wellness.

The information provided is meant for a general audience. It is not a substitute for services or advice received from your health care providers who are the only ones that can diagnose and treat your individual medical conditions. Capital Blue Cross and its affiliated companies believe this health education resource provides useful information but do not assume any liability associated with its use. If you have any questions about the information, please contact your health care provider. Individual coverage for any services that may be discussed in this resource depends on your benefits plan. To determine coverage for any health care service, please refer to your Certificate of Coverage or Evidence of Coverage or call Member Services at the toll-free number on your member ID card.