Thriving, Not Just Surviving in the ‘New Normal.’

The Corona pandemic has hit us from the left field, and in less than a month, has changed the global landscape and lifestyle. The way we work, school, socialize/communicate, travel, run our homes – everything transformed very quickly. Hence the coinage of the new term – the new normal.

I will admit that adjusting to this new normal amidst all the uncertainty and panic is not easy. One, because it is a ‘first of a kind’ crisis, and no one has a ‘right way’ of working with it and navigating it. Second, the nature of the spread of the disease has caused immense anxiety leading to a new modus operandi driven by social distancing. So evidently, there’s a new learning path to meet this new normal.

This article however is not about just surviving and getting by, but thriving in this crisis to come out stronger, happier, and healthier. We could then tell stories of how we outsmarted the pandemic to leave this planet in a much better shape.

Thriving in difficult times is a mindset training, no doubt, but there are some ‘atomic habits’ that, if brought into practice, could build that positive muscle. And that muscle will live with us not only during but also beyond this very challenging time.

These are not just theories for the article, but principles that we as a family have been trying to put into practice every day to thrive. And there are several degrees of freedom around them so that you can get creative. I am sure a lot of you already have your mojo all defined since we are now a few weeks into this, and will see some commonalities with what I am sharing.

  1. The daily wellness rigor – it is almost like setting the intention for the day. It could take any form you like – meditation, yoga, a breathing routine, tai chi, a light indoor workout schedule – just about anything that converges the focus and attention to that one thing for a little bit. And on the sunny spring days, we try to catch a walk in the greens, while keeping our social distance, of course. And it is important to make sure that this routine is followed at the same time daily. My husband and I do pranayama (an ancient Indian breathing yoga practice) followed by a warm cup of ginger water. Give it a shot, and you’ll be surprised to see the results – we were. And the much craved for morning togetherness (which was a pipe dream due to the 7 am morning office runs for the last 20 years) finally became real during the past few months thanks to the Corona gods.
  2. The work and school zen space – you need a dedicated space, mainly since study rooms are limited in every home with chances of tugs-of-war. The dedicated areas with some good chi are essential to go to every morning. These spaces will trigger the juices to be in the zone. I converted one of the unused rooms to my study while my husband usurped the actual study room for himself. Another thing that I have mandated at home is dressing up as if we are going to work and school. So, I do my usual make-up routine with semi-casual work clothing. My family is not super consistent with it, but they try to keep up! I go easy on the dressing up piece, but not on the showers before sitting down to work.
  3. Food and nutrition logistics – this I am sure is the most challenging of issues during this time when there’s a full house at home. Each one with their demands, right? Well, not sure if this will help you, but we ended up creating a schedule for our lunches and dinners. This helped us bring in the variety, plan the groceries, and the prep work that goes in. We mixed up the menus to ensure that we balance the workload and yet stay high on nutrition, which is really important right now. So some days are easy sandwiches and mac and cheese days, while others are more elaborate, and weekends are a lot more extravagant. The prep work happens in the weekend and includes cutting, prepping the doughs, etc., help to keep the workload in check when we are multi-tasking.
  4. Kids and their school routine – I have to stay that the school and the extended community has done a fantastic job of getting the kids back on track with all the distance learning content in a very short time. Thanks to Google Classroom, Zoom, and other online educational and entertainment resources, we are covered in terms of content. And the kids have adapted very well to this new mode of learning. All they need is the morning start, which is usually a required activity in the old-normal as well. I’d argue that the kids are doing a lot more this way since they go straight up without many breaks and other activities.
  5. Ecosystems and community hangouts – the most critical piece that we are missing with all the distancing right now is the social interaction. And if you’re a social bee like me who needs to see friends in a wine bar, you’ll find ways to solve this problem very quickly. Ecosystems are essential right now – to share your worries, exchange ideas, check on everyone’s well being, and provide support. This crisis has provided us a fantastic opportunity to become part of various ecosystems. Thanks to WhatsApp, our families, and extended families have all come closer. And thanks to Zoom and Google Hangouts, we can set up our weekend gossip and touch-base sessions with all our loved ones. We celebrate virtual birthdays, create watch parties to do movies and shows together, do virtual workouts, singing, and dancing sessions – it has been such a delight. The world just came closer after going a full circle. These are things we would have never done under the garb of busyness and being in different geographic locations.
  6. Expending the creative energies – this is a must. Pick a passion of your choice from that shelf- art, music, dance, film, writing, cooking, gardening, scrapbooking, crafts. What makes you tick, what brings you that zing and rejuvenates you? If you don’t know it, then first, this might be the time to explore it. Try your hand at various things to see what stirs the soul. And then, invest a couple of hours every day doing that compulsively – that dream of writing a book, creating that song, that script for the movie, that piece of art, or those videos, starting a business or getting that recipe or gardening book guide of yours online. Dust your passion off the shelf. The road every day is monotonous with a lot of daily workload that needs to be accomplished, and this is for the long haul. You need the downtime to breath out of that and smell the flowers. And then you emerge fresh to take on the next day with the same level of energy. The creative intelligence helps you do that. I have several irons in the fire, but the one that I go to consistently is listening to and creating music and writing – almost every day.
  7. Good karma, every drop counts – this is not a comfortable situation for anyone. Especially all those small businesses that relied on you for their livelihood. Try to find a way to give back to the community. It doesn’t matter how much, but just the act of giving back will bring a lot of + chi to you and a lot of help to the businesses that are severely impacted. Some various non-profits and foundations have sprung up to support your community. Pick a cause and donate. Or, you can go low key. If you want to cook a meal for a family who is going hungry, do so and arrange a pick up for them anonymously.

This is not an easy time by any stretch, but every challenge is an opportunity to leave things in better shape than they were before. So, let’s rise to the occasion to do that. Although it might seem like life is disrupted and utterly chaotic, this is also an opportunity to rethink, rewire, and reimagine how we want to handle a crisis of this dimension – this includes creating laundry, cooking and cleaning turns:-). The choice is with us, and at the cost of sounding cheesy – it is our responsibility to enjoy the journey, cross this hurdle, and prevail. We can do that well, can’t we?