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Column: COVID-19 is not the new normal, we get to create our new normal

More tips for for staying mentally healthy during the pandemic from Stacey Roles, a registered nurse psychotherapist
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COVID-19 has changed our day to day activities and routines for now. It is important for us to recognize that this is not the new normal, it is just our normal for right now. 

It is a temporary state, and although we don’t know when this will change, we do, in fact, know it will change eventually. The wonderful thing about when that change does occur is that we get to create what our new normal looks like.

Let me say that again … We get to create what our new normal looks like.

Through this pandemic, we were forced to become aware of the things we can live without and more importantly, the things we don’t want to have missing from our lives. For some, this includes close relationships (family and friends); for others, a sense of meaning and purpose in their work; for others, getting to spend more time with themselves going and looking inward. 

This isolation period has shone a spotlight on what in our lives makes us happy and what does not.  When things return to business as usual, we will have the opportunity to create a new arrangement in our lives, perhaps adding more of the things we ‘want’ to do to our daily list to help balance out the things we ‘should’ or ‘have to do’.

When the pleasurable things in our lives are balanced with the ‘must do’ events, we tend to notice a decrease in stress, anxiety and depression and an increase in happiness, ease and contentment.  

Taking this physical isolation time to create a list of things you want to make more time for in your new normal may bring new energy into your life. Having the ability to reinvent this new life can be a fun exercise during this isolation period as we can start planning — not with deadlines and stress,  but with hopes, dreams and perhaps some beginning steps to get us moving in that new direction.

Great places to start to brainstorming your new ideas may include looking on post-secondary websites to see what sparks an interest in your drive and mastery centres in your brain. Googling yoga, psychotherapy, religion or spiritual workshops or webinars may help you determine what helps you to go inwards to get to know yourself better. 

Take note of which family and friends increase your happiness (and those for whom you have more difficult feelings) and plan to adjust the time and energy spent with each accordingly. 

Remember you are not in this alone. Make sure you know about your crisis service lines and other connections in your community so that you can reach out to your primary care provider, psychotherapist or crisis services if the need arises.

Here is a list of some of the services that are available:

Stacey E. Roles & Associates is comprised of registered multidisciplinary clinicians who are all certified cognitive behavioural therapists. Learn more at

About the Author: Stacey Roles

Stacey Roles is a registered psychotherapist in Greater Sudbury who operates the firm Stacey E. Roles & Associates.
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