How to Find Real Normalcy in These Strange Times

The pandemic and the government’s response to it has changed the lives of many people. The “new normal” is a rather dystopian and uncomfortable existence. Going places and watching people skitter around with their faces covered, following arrows on the floor, no longer making eye contact with their fellow shoppers, is a surreal experience. In at least one state, visiting with friends or family is forbidden and could leave you without running water or electricity if your get-together is deemed a “party.”

Mental health issues are skyrocketing. Many elderly people are just fading away while their family keeps them isolated to keep them safer. For many, these changes have been emotionally difficult.

I know they have been for me and I’m about the furthest thing from a social butterfly you could ever meet. So if you are craving some normalcy in this currently abnormal world, read on for a few things that may help you feel like yourself again.

Go outside and enjoy the solitude.

Spending time outdoors is about the only time the world seems normal to me. Once my daughter’s lease ran out, I rented a place near an isolated beach. The beach is private and there’s no place to park, so particularly if I go early in the morning, there’s nobody there. Every day, I go to the beach and play with one of my dogs. I throw the ball, watch as she fruitlessly chases seagulls, and I sit on a rock and contemplate the waves of the day.

It’s meditative, it’s calming, and the ocean always feels like home to me. I’m not breaking any rules, there’s nobody to insist I put on a mask, and I’m not feeling tense. It’s been a glorious break from how things were.

Wherever you live, found an outdoor space and visit it at different times during the day to discover the time when you’re most likely to have it all to yourself. Then, make an unbreakable date with yourself to get there regularly. Not only are you getting fresh air and a little bit of exercise, but you’re also getting some Vitamin D from the sunlight, and that’s important for your health and well-being.

Go to a patio and meet for dinner.

One option if you want to dip your toe into the water of sociability again is to meet at a restaurant with a patio. Join your friends or your family and head to a restaurant for drinks and maybe even dinner. This is one place where you can feel semi-normal and get back in touch with the people who make your life better.

In many places, you’ll have to wear a mask until you get to your table, but once you’re there eating, you can dine and enjoy your drinks. I did this recently with friends and it was the highlight of my week. It was the second time I’ve been to a restaurant since February and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Have a small outdoor get-together.

Invite over a few friends or family members and have a barbecue or a bring-your-own picnic in the back yard. Obviously, don’t make the event so large that angry neighbors call the police on you. You can enjoy outdoor games like horseshoes or whiffle ball and have a few hours during which the whole pandemic feels far away.

This is especially good for families with children. They can run around the yard with cousins or friends and get to act like kids again.

Turn off the news and social media.

I went almost a month with only limited news and social media. To be perfectly honest, I was sick of it. I was burned out from the COVID coverage, the mask debate, the riots, the racial disharmony, and the politics. I was tired of the constant arguing. I was tired of every third post on social media being deemed “racist” or “insensitive.” I was fed up with people who could not get along – who, in fact, took pleasure in the tense situation in which Americans have found themselves.

It was glorious.

Now that I’m back reading the news so that I can write articles again, I’ve decided I’m limiting these things that cause me stress. This scenario we find ourselves in is far from normal, so it’s impossible to watch the news and be on social media and feel a sense of normalcy.

I’d rather just skip it as much as possible, while still keeping a general understanding of what’s going on in the world.

Go camping (or at least hiking).

I’ll be honest. I’m generally more of a hotel with room service gal if I am going on a vacation but right now, camping is the way to holiday.

Load up the kids, pack the tent and the sleeping bags and get ready to make some campfire meals while enjoying the great outdoors. This is an appropriately socially distanced past time that won’t earn you scorn from the Woke Folk on your social media accounts.

If camping is more of a time commitment to the great outdoors than you want, consider a day hike someplace nearby. Getting off our phones and out in nature with the people we love is a great way to reconnect and do something a little bit different, without running around in masks following the arrows on the floor at stores like you’re taking part in a giant board game.

Take a road trip.

The best way to travel right now is in your own vehicle with your own cooties. Take a road trip someplace more remote and be sure to stop and take plenty of photos along the way. Those of us who enjoy travel are feeling pretty stir crazy about now, and a road trip is one way to break the monotony.

Depending on how long you’ll be gone, you can bring a cooler with food from home, or you can order curbside from restaurants and enjoy it picnic style. If you’re going to be gone overnight, you can camp (see above) or if you feel comfortable with it, stay in a hotel. I recently had to do some significant traveling and the hotels I visited all had pandemic procedures in place that limited contact with both the staff and other patrons. You won’t be ordering room service but there’s always Doordash or Uber Eats if you want food delivered to your door. (And that’s likely the least risky way to dine out right now.)

Revisit family routines.

If you have a family tradition of a nice Sunday dinner every week or joining around the table at night and saying grace, this is a little piece of normalcy that you can maintain fairly easily. Keep up with Friday night pizza and games. Go for a bike ride together on Saturday afternoons. Watch a sporting event together.

A lot of folks have let things like this slip as they switch between the red pajamas and the blue pajamas, wondering fuzzily what day of the week it is. But maintaining routines and traditions is important.

Those small routines make memories. One day your kids may do the same thing with their kids. Keeping up with family traditions is good for everyone in the group. Use this time to reconnect with the people you love the most.