employee hanging open sign in window

Adjusting To The “New Normal”

A Glimpse at Life after Safer At Home

Now that Wisconsin’s Safer At Home order has been rolled back, many people wonder how a “new normal” will impact the way we work and engage in social activities. As businesses and stores begin re-opening and workers return to offices, factories and other workplaces, we will all face a period of adjustment. How we handle that adjustment – and its potential impact to our physical and mental health – will be up to us.

Proceeding with Caution

As society reopens, it’s important to continue following the guidelines offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local health agencies and medical professionals who are knowledgeable about infectious diseases and COVID-19. Additionally, being aware of the level of viral activity in your area – or any area you may have to travel to – is a good practice to follow.

“It is a time for all of us to be good social citizens and follow the health guidelines that we have been discussing over the past few months,” said Kelli Heindel, MD, Medical Director of Primary Care for the ThedaCare Clinically Integrated Network. “Just because Safer At Home measures are being relaxed doesn’t mean that the threat of the virus is gone.”

ThedaCare asks community members to continue practicing safe behaviors by:

  • Staying home as much as possible and practicing good hygiene, such as hand washing and sanitizing.
  • Not touching your face.
  • Disinfecting frequently used items and surfaces, including mobile devices.
  • Remaining 6 feet apart from others and wearing a mask or face covering if you must go out.

There are also other good habits to practice including, getting sufficient sleep, eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and finding ways to reduce stress in your life. Those over the age of 60 or those with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems should continue staying at home as much as possible.

Managing Stress
Many things we do every day will likely look different. The coming months will be a time of uncertainty for people of all ages.

“Change can cause stress,” said Catherine Langdon, Licensed Professional Counselor and Mental Health Clinician at ThedaCare Behavioral Health in Menasha. “It’s important to recognize our reactions to that stress as we move forward.”

Langdon recommends that people establish the boundaries in which they will feel comfortable interacting socially and recognize and accept that others may have looser or tighter boundaries.

“Respect for one another’s comfort zones is going to be very important,” said Langdon. “We all get to do what we feel is best for ourselves while recognizing others have different opinions. Don’t allow social pressure to push you into behaving in a way that’s not in your comfort zone.”

Langdon acknowledges that people may find themselves in uncomfortable situations and suggests that they visualize how they might handle such situations before they experience them. For anyone experiencing significant distress, she recommends seeking help from a medical provider, a counselor or reaching out to a friend to talk through his or her problems. It is not showing weakness to ask for help.

Safeguards & Resources

As part of ThedaCare’s unwavering commitment to the health, safety and well-being of the surrounding community, safeguards remain in place, including:

  • Visitor restrictions
  • Screenings and temperature checks at entrances
  • Universal masking
  • Testing of patients prior to procedures and surgeries
  • Isolation of COVID-19 cases and creation of five respiratory care clinics
  • Online health resources and video visits
  • Phased reopening of essential surgeries, primary care and other specialties and diagnostics

Additionally, options are available for anyone experiencing mental or emotional distress. The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) has chapters in the Fox Valley for peer-to-peer support, and The Center for Suicide Awareness offers the HOPELINE – 741741 where individuals can reach out via text to receive guidance from a trained specialist. Helpline workers are available 24/7.

“This current pandemic is unlike anything we’ve experienced in this country – or the world, for that matter – in many, many years, if ever,” said Dr. Heindel. “It is normal for all of us to feel anxious about the change we’ve experienced and may experience in the future.”

We all truly are “in this together.”