By Bradley Robertson

It has almost been five months since beginning this new way of life due to the coronavirus. We have seen so much change, yet there are still many unknowns that will unfold week-to-week over the next year and beyond.

I have been hearing people say for quite some time, “I just want things to go back to normal.”

I believe we have seen the end what we know as “normal.” Through this pandemic we have experienced something new, and we have new knowledge and a new perspective that has forever changed us. This has also given us new eyes and minds to see and move forward in a healthy manner.

So how can we cope with this life-altering event?

We keep the normal things of life in a not-so-normal situation. It’s simple actually: we divert the unknown thoughts of our future back to the things that hold us to our past.

I’m offering my Top 10 “normals” to help us cope with the coronavirus.

These are in no order and I hope they can serve your family as they have done mine.

1. Watch a sunrise or sunset daily. This is art in its most beautiful form. What your eyes see and behold is not only visually appealing, it is a reminder of a new day and a day lived again. It’s quiet and calm and allows time to stand still. What you experience personally in a sunrise or sunset cannot be replaced and it can bring one a sense of peace and normalcy.

2. Be in nature. Spend as much time as you can outdoors. Whether you are just sitting and staring at fresh flowers on your patio or taking a hike at Lake Martin, get outside. Have your coffee outside. Eat your meals outside. Garden. Do yard work. Chat on the phone outside. Work outside. The eyes and body get to see and feel the Earth. We are connected to our creation and it brings us life and warmth.

3. Keep a routine. This is crucial for some people, but not for everyone. A routine helps people feel a sense of order. It may be time-conscious or maybe just task-oriented. When life feels crazy, the order of a schedule or routine can be calming.

4. Exercise. Find a way to be active. When our heart rates go up for extended time, our bodies release natural endorphins that give us those “good feels.” Walking, hiking, biking, running, swimming, playing soccer, playing basketball and even jumping on the trampoline all work perfectly. Anything goes here; find your favorite and add it to your routine three to five days a week.

5. Have a face-to-face interaction with a dear friend. Find a way to do this no matter what. Even if it’s in a park separated by a bench. Even if it’s a Zoom call on your cell phone. Or just hug it out together and laugh and share a glass of wine. Community and fellowship are part of our culture. Taking it away hurts us more than it helps us. Find your fellowship and enjoy every second of it.

6. Cook. We are southerners, and we love good food! Preparing it is a form of art, and also makes great therapy. Planning the food, chopping, preparing, the people, the tastes, the smells: it is all rewarding for our tired minds. And sharing with the people we love most is even better. This is a normal behavior that will stand the test of time and hardship.

7. Laugh. Find anything and everything to laugh about. This also releases those ‘happy’ endorphins that can calm us. Find a funny movie to watch, play a silly joke or prank on someone in your house, act ridiculous and feel ok about it. My kids’ favorite is to have their dad tell funny stories of his past. They love this and it gives them a sense of connection and family.

8. Create art. We do not all see ourselves as artists; however, art is in us all. Paint, craft, play music, write, draw, be a photographer, make a flower arrangement, sing. You can choose anything your heart desires. Maybe even try something new. I have been dancing with my sweet Sissy. I’m not that good at it, but it sure brings me joy and relief. Tap into your inner artist and have fun!

9. Go to the water. We all know there is no place quite like the ocean. Seeing natural water or being in natural water is life-giving. It could be listening and watching a creek or stream, swimming in a pond or lake or feeding turtles at a local park. Water is serene and grounding and offers peace and gentleness. This is a normal activity that’s been present in humans for ages. Seeing water and feeling the water on your skin reminds us that we are alive.

10. Close your eyes and listen to the birds. You can do this anywhere and any time of day. When one or more senses is closed off, the others open in amazing ways. Hearing the songs and joy of birds is music to our souls. It’s a form of meditation. Whenever you feel tense or heavy, step outside and close your eyes. You will hear the birds and they will bring you peace.

We all have our own ways of coping these days, but I hope these ideas spark new interest for our readers. Taste and see the good in the world around us. I promise, it is there.