NORMANTOWN NEWS - By Lisa Hayes-Minney

In conversations about the great “re-opening” of 2020, I have heard several folks note difficulty getting their groove back. Listlessness, inability to focus, frustration over projects or work that built up during quarantine. We are expected to step out into our “new normal,” and I feel like many of us have not had time yet to mourn the loss of the “old normal,” much less time to recover from the mental stress and trauma of the changed world we are experiencing.

Could staying home be traumatic? Is it traumatic to sit on the couch watching death tolls rise, political accusations and protests become riotous? Yes. “Trauma occurs when you are overwhelmed by an event that you cannot process,” says Julia Samuel, grief counselor and bestselling author. “While the crisis is happening, you are in it and everything is uncertain and unpredictable. You don’t have the emotional freedom to allow yourself to process the trauma, so it is held in the body. The most common reaction is to shut down and just exist somehow.”

It comes as no surprise then that we are listless, feeling as though we are just existing. Uncertainty is frightening. Daily death reports, now commonplace, still affect us, even if these deaths don’t affect us directly. Though we may not have been infected, we have been affected by the shift that has happened. Sometime, between the beginning of the quarantine and the end of the quarantine, chaos has seemed to rule. We may have been safe at home, stuck with extra time and with ourselves, but even so, we have been overwhelmed by an event that is difficult to process. How immature and weak does it sound if/when we claim we’ve been traumatized by what could be seen as a three-month vacation? How wimpy are we to be affected by isolation, or loneliness?

National surveys conducted this year show that nearly half -- 45% -- of people in the United States have reported distress during the coronavirus pandemic.

We are emotionally fatigued, living with a kind of mental and physical exhaustion, carrying a level of exasperation. COVID, murder hornets, police violence, riots. We ask ourselves, “what’s next?” and we do not know the answers. Mental health specialists expect over the next year or more, we are going to see a lot of people who thought they were okay suddenly realizing that they are not. The Guardian notes, “The global virus has, in the most insidious and cruelly indiscriminate way, turned our world upside down, denting our faith in the infallibility of science and medicine, global capitalism and in progress itself. It has made us fretful for our lives and the lives of those around us.” While we were sitting at home, the world changed, and our foundational faiths failed us.

Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling helpless, sad, angry, irritable, hopeless, anxious, or afraid. You may have trouble concentrating on typical tasks, changes in appetite, body aches, and pains, or difficulty sleeping, or you may struggle to face routine chores. Busyness has been glorified in our country’s past, and it’s time for us to learn to enjoy quiet time. Being still. So go easy on yourself. This is normal. This is to be expected.

Here’s what you can do to ease yourself back into this new normal:

1. Reduce stress triggers. Keep your regular routine. Limit exposure to news media and negative people. Stop comparing yourself to others.
2. Stay busy. Doing something positive to manage anxiety. Focus on positive thoughts. Use your moral compass or spiritual life for support.
3. Set priorities. Set reasonable goals each day. Give yourself credit for every step in the right direction, no matter how small.
4. Connect with others. Avoid social isolation. Make connections by email, texts, phone. Do something for others. Find purpose in helping. Support a family member or friend.
Quarantine may be (currently) behind us, and we can expect current strong feelings to fade when the pandemic is over, though some anxiety may linger. In the meantime, be patient with yourself and practice some self-care. Bake and eat brownies, take a bubble bath, spend time outside in the sunshine, or walking in the shade of the woods. Tinker with a hobby, reach out to others you haven’t seen in a while. If you still find yourself stressed or anxious, take three deep breaths, filling your lungs and diaphragm as full as you can get them, then breathing out to empty them as much as possible. This has been proven to lower your blood pressure, quell the “fight or flight” response built into all of us, and calm the nerves.

Don’t let the world rush you into this new normal. Take your time, be patient with yourself (and others), and breathe. The virus has rocked our world, and not in a good way. Don’t set your expectations too high, and try to make gradual changes. Give yourself time to process and recover.

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Normantown Historical Community Center will be seeing a different Food Pantry program on the second Friday of June, the 12th, with more information out on social media as they get it. Mountaineer Food Bank is beginning an "In this Together Food Box" distribution. These are on a limited basis and the boxes will contain 10-12 food items. Local volunteers will be adding the NHCC box to the MFB box.

Repairs and building upgrades are happening, and the contractor is putting a new roof on the little brick building. NHCC got a grant from the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation to cover most of the cost, with donations to make up the rest.

Donations to NHCC can be made online at or mailed to NHCC, 3031 Hackers Creek Road, Jane Lew 26378, c/o Margaret. Donkey Basketball has been rescheduled for October 17th, 2020.

If you have any 25267 news to share, send mail to, or leave a message at 304-354-9132. I also have an email newsletter that includes links to this column online. You can subscribe at