Corona crisis and everyday life: How do I find a new normal?

Driving to work in the morning, maybe taking the kids to daycare beforehand or going to the gym, that's what everyday life was like for many people. Our German normality for decades. But that no longer exists. Instead, the corona pandemic is forcing us to find a new normal in our lives. For a few days now, home office has become everyday life for many. We sit at home with our laptops and smartphones and try to concentrate on the tasks that we would otherwise have done at our workplace. In the office it was the colleagues who prevented us from concentrating on work, at home it was the partner or the children. Or: you are yourself.

Some people who live alone can now concentrate better at home because they are not constantly distracted or interrupted. Others may find it more difficult to stay on the job in the home office because there is no gentle social control that prevents you from going to the kitchen every few minutes to eat or drink, play on your cell phone, or but to clean and tidy up – before you really start working.

Procrastination, a tendency to continually push the beginning of concentrated work on a job, is familiar to some from her studies – but had forcedly overcome this defermentitis in working life. And now she is back in the seclusion of the home office, this tendency to postpone everything that is annoying and strenuous until later.

Anyone who is already stressed may come to the limits of their psychological resilience with the new situation at home and with general uncertainty. If you imagine a family with two children, in the old normality it only happened at weekends and during holidays that all family members were at home at the same time. In the new normal, the home office has moved in. Home office does not mean vacation and is not perceived as such. But the structure that everyday office life has given life has not moved in. Therefore, it can easily happen that you slide into an unstructured daily routine. Especially if you think you have to keep up to date with the latest state of the corona pandemic; then the day crumbles, time passes. Result: One becomes dissatisfied with oneself, with one's own performance, is annoyed by the others in the family who are now disturbing. And because they are emotionally closer to you, you are even more upset about them than in the old normality about the annoying colleagues.

It is clear: you have to find a new normal now. You have to structure the time in the home office yourself. This is more strenuous and demanding than when you are at work, because the expectations and requirements are conveyed to you by your superiors, because at 12.30 p.m. you go to the canteen together for lunch and not to your own kitchen 17 times beforehand. It is therefore necessary to develop routines for yourself and with other family members that help to structure everyday life. You should start the day as usual, i.e. not sleep longer than usual, and then start working concentrated. If children are to be looked after, the parents have to take turns. The fact that you also plan non-work phases in which you play, relax, communicate with each other, cook and eat is particularly important because the other pleasant social contacts with friends, the cinema or restaurant visits, etc. are no longer possible.

It is important to talk about this unusual closeness and togetherness at home and to make this situation explicitly the subject: All family members should be able to formulate how they feel and what they have in mind about how to spend time together over the next few weeks should spend together. It can also be a new and good experience to deliberately structure family life in this way, which had previously been so sluggish but not conceived. From a socio-psychological point of view, family life is characterized by the fact that it is organized informally compared to working life or moving around in public. This is what makes this new situation so difficult that two different behavioral patterns have to be reconciled at the same time and in the same place, namely at home. The writer J.K. Rowling initially wrote "Harry Potter" in the café. Many who work creatively have done so, they have been inspired by the atmosphere in the café – and at the same time have focused entirely on the work. It is precisely the contrast between the café's light but unobtrusive exhilaration that puts you in a good mood, which in turn allows you to delve into the creative process in an exhilarating way. So if you think of the home office as a kind of café, then you could read the gentle bustle in the apartment positively – provided that the privacy of the coffee table is respected by the others. This cannot be conveyed to smaller children, as there is only alternate care. Older children, however, for a defined time anyway. In addition, this way of working could also be a model for how the children devote themselves to their own tasks. They are all in one room, at least in one apartment, and everyone is concentrating on themselves and the work that they have in front of them. You experience the presence and concentrated calm of others as a pleasant background, which motivates you to dedicate yourself to your tasks in a calm and concentrated manner. The homework forced by Corona gives enough opportunity to practice this new behavior, and that would be a new normality that could be lived on well after the pandemic.
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