Finding normality after great change
This week, all the changes of the past two years have presented a challenge to me that I hadn’t been expecting. Usually, when we think of big changes, we automatically think of the really big things that we will have to adjust to. Coping without someone, a new job, moving house, an illness, having a baby. All these things are major shifts in our lives that require big adjustments. Recently we have gone through a shift globally with the Covid 19 Pandemic. Everyone has been affected by it in some way and had to undertake change to accommodate it. But now that we are beginning to come out the other side, finding normality again can seem a little daunting.
So what made me think about this you ask?
Packing a suitcase. Of all the things that could have prompted the idea of change and finding normality, it was packing a suitcase. I’ve actually found it quite difficult. It’s something that I haven’t had to do in a long time (two and a half years I think) because we’ve been grounded by the pandemic. How many times I’ve caught myself saying oh I forgot about that or I can’t think what to take. I’m only going away for a few days, but the idea of packing to go somewhere has caught me out. I’ve forgotten how to pack a suitcase! The very fact that I’m able to go somewhere is wonderful, but it has brought out feelings of uncertainty, doubt, and dare I say, mild anxiety.
Why is it such a big deal?
I have found it quite a strange feeling actually, packing to go away for a few days. It’s not something that would ordinarily give me any negative feelings. But we’ve never gone through the circumstances that we have before and it’s obviously affected me more than I maybe realised. I’m having to recall where things are, hoping I don’t forget anything, ensuring I leave my husband prepared for my absence. We’ve never spent any extended length of time apart in seven years! Just another change to add to the mix. And it all just feels different.
But going away is normal, right? This is just me finding normality again. So why does it feel weird?
Getting back to normal can feel difficult
Change does strange things to us. We are not only affected emotionally, but physically also, and if we have gone through an extended period of change, it can take a little longer to find our normal again. Our brains release chemicals into our system that can induce fight, flight, or freeze reactions within us. If this is allowed to happen over an extended period, we can actually alter the way our brains function. Staying in a heightened state of worry will become our new normal and we will find it increasingly difficult to cope with basic life decisions.
So it is extremely important to recognise when we feel overwhelmed and help ourselves out. Isolating ourselves from others, not asking for support, not practicing self-love, and not switching off from the noise around us will all aid in keeping us in a stressed state. We do not want to be the ostrich with its head in the sand either! Recognising change and how we feel about it is vitally important. But it can be difficult. Often it is the little things that throw us off balance. Stuff we coped with before feels challenging and we don’t like that feeling. Change within change. That’s where I’ve found myself this week.
How to cope with the difficult moments
John and I both felt a shift with me going away for a few days. The fact I am going without him brought forward emotions that we had to recognise, talk about and reconcile. The fact that it has happened after such global upheaval just added to the change we had to deal with. But talking about it helped us work through the change. It will feel weird being apart, but we will manage and it will make our reunion all the sweeter. The feelings that emerged with my packing by suitcase, however, have caused me both amusement and perplexion. That something so innocuous as packing a bag could induce these feelings. Something so normal. But the circumstances are different. So much has changed. And so my emotions have also changed as a result. And that’s ok. I’m not the same person I was two and a half years ago.
Some tips when you face difficulty through change
- Breathe. Take a deep cleansing breath and bring yourself back into the present. So often we are carried away by the what if’s that we fail to see the what is. Catch yourself before you spiral and calm your response.
- Acknowledge how you feel. Whatever it is that you are feeling in that moment, accept it. It’s ok to feel what you do. You are feeling it for a reason.
- Decide how you want to respond. Are you going to ignore the feeling or are you going to be proactive and seek a solution? Don’t ignore it. It will only get worse!
- Seek a solution to how you feel. Speak to someone, remove yourself from the situation, break it down into manageable chunks, practice some self-love. There is always a way to cope with difficulties in change. Finding ‘normal’ takes action if we are to find a solution.
- Don’t worry if it takes some time to get past it. Change can take time to adjust to and we must allow ourselves the time we need to grow, learn and adjust. Finding normality after great change is not easy and we must afford ourselves grace as we find it.
It’s been a strange time this week as I’ve come to recognise how I’ve actually felt. Acknowledging the fact that I’m doing something quite normal but that I feel quite differently about it has been odd. But life is full of little and big adjustments that we all must make. It’s up to us how we choose to deal with them. Finding normality after big changes can seem daunting, and it is. But it is also possible. Change brings about new opportunities, personal growth, challenges, joy, compassion, and awareness that we would be without if we didn’t experience it. Even after great sorrow, we can be reborn and live life to its fullest. Finding normality is possible and wonderful, even if it looks a little different on the other side.