Reframing: finding a ‘new normal’

We are all facing a time of great uncertainty. What do practices of care look like from our homes, our sofas? How do we cope (emotionally and practically) in times of uncertainty? When income disappears? When we find ourselves distanced from our loved ones, the people who care for us and who we care about and for? When we need to carve new ways to go ahead? As we try to flesh out a new normal?

Many of us are currently exploring ways to withstand or move through the challenging times, now and ahead – as well as the feelings of stress, anxiety and loneliness caused by it. We take care, of our situation, ourselves and our loved ones, by coming up with creative solutions that help us overcome current obstacles and challenges, routines that keeps us sane, new ventures that can keep us occupied and inspire us.  Or we use this time of social distancing to reflect on our lives and rethink what matters most to us and what we want to do differently, both individually and collectively. In other words: we are all, in one way or another, trying to give shape and adjust to a new normal.

We would love to hear from you! Please help us think about how we could reframe the current situatio by answering the following question:

What do you do to take care (emotionally, socially, financially), how do you give shape to this new normal, and what can we learn and take with us while imagining the future?


  • Karina says:

    I create a nice and loving environment at home, by cooking, by keeping things organised, by spreading good vibrations, using scents, music,… I keep a routine of work: planning the future, shrinking activity and costs, rethinking the processes, communicating with partners and preparing the institution for the days to come. Keeping silliness and also not taking everything too serious… And leaving space for the unknown!

  • Dafne says:

    Voor mijn mentale welzijn (en daarmee dat van degene met wie ik samenwoon) heb ik mezelf een structuur opgelegd van dagelijkse yoga en meditatie, dagelijks werk (al dan niet ‘voor mezelf’) en dagelijks schrijven. Sociaal gezien probeer ik in contact te blijven met vrienden, met name diegenen die nu alleen zijn. Ik denk dat je een situatie als deze het best per dag kunt beschouwen: het is al overdonderend genoeg. Gek genoeg went dat snel genoeg en wordt het inderdaad het nieuwe normaal. Ik merk dat ik het het beste volhoud door trouw te zijn aan mijn optimistische aard: door, met empathie voor al het leed wat wereldwijd ontstaat – helaas zoals altijd het meeste voor de minder geprivilegieerden van de wereld – te hopen op een systemische verandering. Te hopen dat mensen de rust waarderen, de schone lucht, de wereldwijde verbroedering, de kansen die een crisis biedt. In deze tijd kunnen we niet langer naar buiten ontsnappen aan onze demonen: laten we ze onder ogen zien, en beter worden, waarmee we een betere wereld kunnen zijn. En dan bedoel ik met name het deel van de wereldbevolking waar de meeste macht ligt, het meeste geld en de meeste uitstoot.

  • Tjeerd de Vries says:

    We go out to walk a lot, as nature and the elements provide us with new insights and fresh thoughts. This also helps us to accept each other’s space during days of working remotely. We’ve made clear agreements on when we should leave each other be, as for where and how. Luckily we are both free spirits and we understand the urge of providing love to one another- for us this is key in surviving a joint isolation.

    In terms of taking care of others, we call our relatives a lot to check how things are going. Also, as time passes, I feel an increasing need to physically and mentally take care of people in need, luckily local and national care taking initiatives pop up to contribute.

    The new normal for us is taking care of ourselves in providing the bare essentials, and not consuming like before. Social contacts are limited to keeping in touch with our loved ones and closest friends. Everything else just falls off the wagon, which is one hell of a releaf so it seems now.

    Let’s shape the future kindly and thoughtfully, as it should have been shaped.

  • Taking care of myself is mainly pivoting around healthy food, daily meditation, enough physical exercise. Not only does this increase my health, but it enables me to look at what the world throws at me with a clear mind.

    To decrease the number of negative impulses I turned off the news notifications on my phone. We’re being bombed with news, freighting updates, ongoing infographics, more variables, more comparison, more, more, more…

    But luckily, not only the COVID-19 news, also highlights of kindness, love and humor are being experienced through a looking glass.

    If I look at caring for others, what has surprised me most since the start of the isolation period?
    The incredible nationwide sense of caretaking. Creative initiatives bloom like flower bulbs, in an equal color palette. People contribute to other’s happiness with simple gestures, and personal standards of joy are re-evaluated. There is a great sense of feeling: WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER! From a simple smile to the opposite person in the supermarket till the ongoing humorous forwarded messages in my digital social groups. We all care.

    But I am also afraid. I am greatly moved that the most vulnerable people are hit hardest by this crisis, people with mental illnesses, physical disabilities, elderly, single mums with multiple kids and just people who are lonely. This makes me strive to contribute to people’s safety, love and joy where I can.

    An example as to where I can help, is that my partner and I are starting to perform garden duets for elderly homes. Let’s say that we hope to do whatever we can, wherever we can.

  • Rik Dijkhuizen says:

    Adjusting to the new situation was, at first, relatively easy. I managed to trace possible pitfalls that could cause negative responses (emotionally) and I decided to withstand possible feelings of financial stress and loneliness by making things as uncomplicated as possible. I remember to have a rigorous cleaning session at home, to install a home office, to reach out to friends, to ensure relative financial stability (by making a financial overview), to try to keep as much structure as possible and to allow myself #selfcare moments. Also, I really saw this as an opportunity to do things better, to use the extra time to reflect, to create a window and momentum for a better future, for myself and others.

    Once the honeymoon phase was over, about two weeks in, I started to really shift between adjustment and rebellion. I tried to keep my cool as much as possible by actively trying to keep my focus, to take more breaks from work if needed, and by working on my own creative projects, biking, reading and by doing the things I never had enough time for. As mentioned in the first forum, my mantra is: this time is to TAKE CARE. I became the more aware that it is of key importance to me to have some sense of purpose during the day, that things have been lacking, also before, and that this should be a time for change.

    At times I can use this mindset as fuel for my engine, but I also experience moments being bothered that things are totally on a standstill right now. Now, one month in, I’m becoming really impatient and lacking momentum/energy. I hope this just is another phase in the process of ‘growing’ towards ‘new normal’. I cope by not reading too much news, to try to inspire myself creatively and to focus on projects that give me energy. Also, I take regular baths (because, water) and bike rides (because, water) to cleanse myself from negativity. Why stress about things we can’t change right now?

    Finding a new normal is something I’m actively exploring since day 1. Already before corona I grew a bit weary of the rat race (being a young professional in the cultural field), but I never found time to reflect or to make constructive long-term choices. Now we’re kind of forced to think of it, instead of just continuing the b*llsh*t. For me a new normal entails being more content with less, being more aware that we don’t need much, to be more considerate towards others, animals and the environment, but on the other side, that everybody has the right to have a reasonable standard of life.

    A new normal, to me, is moving away from neoliberalism, capitalism, nations, status, performance, alienation, freelancing, overworking, overproducing, overconsuming, the rat race, buying more, burn-outs, lacking agency, ambition, anxiety, stress – towards quality, community, friendship, security, inspiration, commitment, engagement, being valued, resourcefulness, sustainability, sensibility, sensitivity, consideration, mental stability, rest, nature. On top of my list: invest in true friends, buy less, think, feel secure (stop full freelancing), focus more on things that give me energy (creatively), and APPRECIATE THE SMALLER THINGS.

    Have you noticed that people are nicer nowadays? My neighbor says ‘Hi’ with a gentile smile. Have you noticed the animals are less stressed out? A pigeon visits me daily on my window sill. Have you noticed that being alone isn’t actually that bad? Have you noticed all those amazing initiatives? Have you visit the local flower shop? Have you noticed the sun? Reading a book? Enjoying the reflection in the water? Reconnecting with friends from years ago? Being closer to your colleagues? The benefits of a slower pace?

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