Flourishing Under Our New Normal

  • Savannah Higgins
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As we have been pushing through weeks of “quarantine life” and are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel, I think it is important to address not only the impact this virus has had on businesses and hiring, but also on our mental health. I think this situation is unchartered waters for almost everyone at this point. Not being able to see your friends and family, always being confined to the walls of your house, and not being able to attend any kind of event from corporate settings to a date night out. If any one is like me, you have hit a breaking point and you are excited to see things open slowly but still have a little anxiety of how to do this safely going forward. There is a balancing act between the need for socialization and mental stability as well as our physical health. Here are a few things during quarantine that helped me stay positive during the chaos as well as what I believe I can do going forward to flourish under our new normal.  

Going out to eat  

For many, going out to eat is a way to bring people together. A way to connect with friends and family. A place to go on a date. A place to have a girls night out. A place to relax and not have to cook for yourself. And then POOF….it was gone! This was something that hit hard for me because I love going out to eat. I consider myself a foodie, and Tampa has so many unique places to eat and restaurants are always popping up.  

How I overcame it: 

Not being able to go out to eat was actually a great thing because it forced me to eat healthier and make my own food. It has allowed me to embrace my inner chef and find new recipes (Pinterest is a great resource!). Cooking together had become my new date night because it allowed us to do something together and actually have the setting to sit down and talk about our day without a waiter constantly coming by, or without having the loud background music.  

Flourishing under the new normal: 

With restaurants opening back slowly, many are ready to get back in socialization and contribute back to the local economy. The moment it was announced, I went on OpenTable to see what outdoor seating was available and reserved a spot for the weekend. I believe my excitement level was probably the same as when I was 17 going to prom. In that moment I realized just how much I took the experience of going out to eat before COVID-19 for granted. While I anticipate this experience to be different going forward (face masks, more space between tables, always needing a reservation), I never want to lose sight of how going out to eat should be a treat, an event, and an experience and not the norm for me. 


Going to a Gym  

Gyms were one of the first places to go when social distancing was put into place. So, for some, they may have been going crazy over not having that outlet, their safe place. Although a gym is initially meant for a way to stay healthy and get in shape, it also becomes a place where you can meet people and let out the frustrations of the day.  

How I overcame it: 

I along with many others found some awesome ways to work out without a gym. In the beginning of the quarantine I heard about a guy who ran a HALF MARATHON on his patio. saw people using all sorts of household items such as brooms, chairs, water jugs, etc. to use in their at home workouts. Or for the less creative people, like myself, I just found workout videos online and tried to do them as much as I could and did lots of evening walks. 

Flourishing under the new normal: 

While I do anticipate returning to a gym SOME day, I have learned so many different exercises and enjoy the variety in my workouts. It has really helped me change up from my same routines and I have seen improvement in some areas. I have also enjoyed the evening walks to clear my mind and it has taught me to slow down to appreciate so many simple things like the sounds in nature and beautiful sunsets. As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” 


Self-Pampering (hair, skin, and nails) 

This may sound like something that would only apply to females, but I know men out there that were looking too scruffy and really missed their barber. This was another small thing that you would never think you wouldn’t have access to but luckily, who did you really have to impress… your pet?  

How I overcame it: 

Honestly, there is not much here to overcome unless you or someone you know works in a salon. I had taken the route of just staying positive and thinking about how much money I saved by not getting my hair and nails done. Other people had gotten impatient and tried to take their hair cuts into their own hands. I will admit that it took 5 attempts to get the gel polish off my nails and I THINK I have mastered painting the left hand. I also found a new love for my old hats! 

Flourishing under the new normal: 

To be perfectly honest, I am VERY excited to visit my hair stylist and nail salon. However, through this experience, it has taught me that I really should keep a lower maintenance style for myself as it would help me to spend less money and be able to make my style last much longer. Things like going more towards my natural color and using normal polish can ensure that if it starts to fade or chip, I can fill in the spaces for the in between times.  

I also took quarantine time to buy dog grooming supplies. THAT was an experience. I can’t say I did just as well as the groomer, but I was pretty impressed with myself on the first attempt. What would take a chunk of cash and time every six weeks, I plan to do in between cuts and brushes myself and only go to a professional on a quarterly basis.  

Learning New Things/Adventures  

I have heard from a lot of coworkers and friends that they miss being able to travel or do new things on the weekends. With almost everything closed down you can’t go try that new painting place, or adventure through a new park 

How I overcame it: 

Everything we are going through is a new adventure. But this time allowed us to start doing things we may not have done before (mostly out of boredom, but that’s OKAY!). For instance, TikTok is becoming huge for all ages now and if you are uncoordinated like me it can actually take a lot of time to create one. I also spent more time using Zoom, FaceTime and talking on the phone with family, friends and co-workers. This time also allowed me to start doing puzzles and reading more books in my free time, both of which I never did much of before. So, they may not be as exciting as some of the experiences you had planned, there are still new and fun things out there for you to try!  

Flourishing under the new normal: 

While it’s still too soon for many to think about traveling to a new place, there are many things starting to open up locally to explore (and practice social distancing). Similar to going out to eat, this experience has taught me to not take our local paradise here in Tampa for granted. I also plan to keep up with family and loved ones far away via Zoom or FaceTime. While my preferred method in the past was phone calls or text, now that virtual meetings have become more normal, I realized how nice it is to see my loved ones faces while having a conversation.  


While we continue going forward into the “new normal”, I am sure it will be a similar but different experience as the one thing we have learned is that things are constantly changing week to week. To keep flourishing under these new and ever-changing circumstances I believe will come down to two things: expectations and positivity. We cannot keep looking back and expecting things to be exactly the same as they were months ago. Sure…we should certainly have goals and with that there are expectations but remember to set them forward and not base them only on the past. Perhaps these struggles are bringing out a better change in technology, appreciation for the basics, and challenging us to be more introspective. We need to stay positive in our strive forward and appreciate what we have learned in the process. The way we flourish in the new normal is to keep moving forward.