Life, Perspective

Normal: 7 Ways to Nurture Peace When Nothing Feels Normal

Small white flowers growing amid red bark on the ground-one open, others in various stages

@JeanneTakenaka

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ve discovered that I like schedules. I like plans and knowing what’s going to happen in a certain day, how to prepare to walk through each day well.

Of course, small adjustments are sometimes necessary . . . a kid calls from school and needs to be picked up, the spouse locked keys in the car . . . but what about the erasure of “normal” from our days? 

How do we adjust to the life-shifts this pandemic has dictated? 

Peaceful morning sunrise looking over the mountains

Like many of you, I’ve experienced a gamut of emotions—fear, anxiety, unsettledness with everything being beyond my control, and I’m coming to a place of accepting. I’m learning how to function in a world where normal has disappeared

But I still long for it. I still have times when I struggle with the fact that everything feels different. I still feel powerless at times, and it’s unsettling.

Some days I can’t concentrate on anything because I’m distracted, by boys schooling at home, by headlines that flash across my screen, by the uncertainties of how long and how bad this is predicted to be. 

Purple flowers sprouting through the ground, as if trying to carry on as normal

The disappearance of normal from our lives has left many of us reeling as we grapple with the life changes and the vast emotions.  

As much as I crave normal, I’m realizing “normal” has never been a thing we should cling to. Normal, like everything else, is vulnerable to circumstances. How we adapt determines how we’ll fare when big changes, like this pandemic, strike. 

Meme with these words: "When we trust that the Lord is holding us and guiding us, it's easier to have hearts that will bend and not be broken." on a backdrop of a sun-streaked path

If we cling to what we had, we’ll end up frustrated. When we’re inflexible, we snap. But when we trust that the Lord is holding us and guiding us, it’s easier to have hearts that will bend and not be broken. 

When we trust that God’s working in the midst of this difficult and unpredictable time, we can know His peace because the outcome isn’t up to us. What is up to us is how we respond. 

A still pond reflecting peace at sunrise

How do we find peace when nothing feels normal?

1. Get outside for sunshine and exercise, even if it’s only for a few minutes. There’s something about the feel of sunshine on our skin that refreshes our souls.

2. Keep a flexible mindset. Whatever sense of ‘normal’ we have right now will probably morph again. Holding our current “normal” with an open palm helps when things shift.

3. Stay connected. Many of us live far from our families and loved ones. We’ve FaceTimed with our parents. I text with my sisters and friends. Strengthening relationships during this isolating time is essential for our spirits. Thank goodness for texts, Zoom, Facebook messenger, Marco Polo, and the old-fashioned phone call. Internalizing or suppressing every thought and feeling damages our emotional well-being.

Small flower buds caught in the first light of morning

4. Try to continue doing the things we need to do in a day, but give ourselves grace if they can’t be done as often as we’re used to.

5. Find ways to encourage others. This may look like sending a card to or calling someone who’s quarantining alone, with as short a message as, “I’m thinking of you!” This may be the highlight of their week. Send a text, maybe with a funny or thought-provoking meme.

6. Give ourselves permission to spend time doing things that fill us. Making cards. Building things. House projects. Take photographs. Work out. Whatever it is that fills our souls. This strengthens our spirits in a way little else can.

7. Time-block our days. This may not work for everyone, but as one who thrives with structure, this has helped me. I block 1-2 hour periods of time and focus on one thing in that time block. Writing. Organizing a room in my house. Exercising. Electronic decluttering. Etc. This helps me stay more focused and be intentional with my time.

A peaceful, vibrant sunrise with trees in silhouette

So, when life changes again—and it will—let’s remember that any “normal” is temporary. Though we don’t know what’s coming, our Father does. He will guide us through each season of life, especially when we’re leaning on Him.

What about you? What helps you establish a sense of peace when nothing feels normal? What’s been the most helpful thing for your well-being since the pandemic changed our collective lives?

Click to Tweet: When we trust that God’s working in the midst of this difficult and unpredictable time, we can know His peace because the outcome isn’t up to us

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44 thoughts on “Normal: 7 Ways to Nurture Peace When Nothing Feels Normal”

  1. This don’t seem so weird to me,
    but some are puzzled; wonder why?
    There is no great mystery;
    lots of folks are gonna die.
    Where I come from life is cheap,
    death is waiting ’round the bend,
    and you maybe need a faith-leap
    to know that dying’s not the end.
    It’s like back in Bible days,
    apostles chopped up, left and right,
    but pay attention, what they say is
    your gold passport to the light.
    This whole world will pass away,
    but Christ the King is here to stay.

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    1. Andrew, you share a good perspective. Yes, people are dying from COVID-19, but many people have died by the hands of others, from other diseases, from natural disasters. We all have a certain number of days. How will we live them? You’re right. When we remember God’s word and the truth that Jesus is always with us, we can walk through this season with a more healthy mindset. I’m praying for you, friend.

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  2. I don’t have a normal life. I am single. Hurricane Michael wrecked our lives in Mexico Beach, Florida. My bro-in-law abandoned my sister after 21 years for another woman. I was renting the upstairs. After going through a solid year of Jesus Calling readings and the Bible, she came through, bought a new house in our home state, and is happy! Not so much here.

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    1. Carol, I so appreciate your transparency here. I’m so sorry life has been so hard for you. When everything falls apart and all the things we had either hoped for or leaned on are stripped away, we’re left reeling. It takes time to recover from that. I’m praying for you today.

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  3. Your post is so practical. Thank you! I love the idea of time-blocks. Routines are important to me, too. These last weeks have been hard but in some way really good, too. There has been a lot of time to deepen the important relationships in my life.
    One of the changes is that I have started cooking at lunch time (I used to do at dinner). It has freed me in the evening … which is really nice.
    Thanks again for all you do for the Lord. You are an encouragement!

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    1. Thanks, Heidi. I’m glad you’ve had time to focus on important relationships. I’m finding our boys talk with me more, which I am thankful for. Cooking at lunch . . . I like it. I’m so glad it’s working well for your well-being. 🙂 I appreciate you, friend!

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  4. These tips are so practical and insightful. I especially love the tip to give yourself permission to do something that fills you. That in turn boosts our spirits. Great advice for these times. 😊

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    1. Collene, thanks so much for stopping by! I’m glad the tips were helpful for you. 🙂 I have to give myself permission to do things I want too. It’s so hard with everything else drawing my attention. 🙂 Have a great Tuesday!

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  5. I love the idea of time-blocking! I had just started using 29-minute sprints with a five-minute break, but I need to block out a bigger chunk of time to sprint in :). I confess I’m enjoying the extra time to write, wander, sleep, and think. I needed this. Isn’t one of your boys a senior?

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    1. Anita, the structure of time-blocking has really helped me. I’m still distractible, but at least it’s not as bad because I know what I should/want to focus on. I like bigger chunks of time too. 🙂 I’m so glad you’re getting extra time to write, wander, sleep and think. 🙂 My oldest is a junior this year. Selfishly, I’m glad he has one more year, for a lot of reasons!

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  6. Thank you for the good suggestions, Jeanne. I think flexibility is important in “normal” times. In times of crisis, it is imperative. Usually, my calendar is full. Now there are plenty of wide-open spaces. It is taking some getting used to but I am beginning to like it. Remembering that all is in God’s hands helps.

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    1. Laurie, you’re right, flexibility is important in “normal” times, and imperative in a season like the one we’re in. I’m glad you’re enjoying the open spaces in your days. It’s an adjustment. 🙂 And yes, keeping the perspective that everything is in God’s hands definitely helps!!

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  7. I’ve tried time blocking but my personality feels way too constrained by it! Although it was fun creating the pretty sheets! lol! I do need my lists still to get things done. Very practical and needed tips, Jeanne. Thank you. The Mental Health experts suggest keeping to a routine so I do get up, get dressed, make my bed etc similar to how I did this pre-Covid 19. I miss photography with all the parks closed and social distancing constraints. Still working on figuring out a ‘new normal’ for photography but trust it will come. May your family stay well and find joy in things never expected today!

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    1. Lynn, I may have laughed out loud about you creating the pretty sheets. 🙂 We each have to discover what helps us through this time, don’t we? I haven’t gotten out as much either for taking pictures. Unless I happen to find something pretty on my morning walks in my subdivision. Keeping a routine is something I’ve read and heard in multiple places, so we’ve worked to keep our family on a routine in this time. I hope you’re staying healthy, friend!

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  8. I’m reflecting on the idea that THIS is normal. That humans have been going through crisis and trauma and pain from the beginning. That we are built for it and that in Christ we can remain certain that everything is okay and under control. Even when everything is out of control from our perspective, there is reason and order in it when you take a look from the other side.

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    1. Lily, the idea of this being normal is one that’s crossed my mind. I admit, I don’t want to focus there, because I don’t want this to be “normal.” And yes, I’m grinning as I say that because you’re right. Our times and seasons are in God’s hands. And He is in control. I loved your thoughts. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  9. Jeanne, a good and helpful post. I went through a dark place over Easter weekend but am feeling better now. These are all good tips. I think I’m going to do some time-blocking. I WAS organized before everything fell apart, and I need to get on that again. And not to be afraid. Thanks, KB

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    1. Awww, Kathy. I’m sorry you were in a dark place over the weekend. I had a hard day yesterday. I’m discovering that it takes time to get organized again after something as big as COVID rocks our lives. I hope you’re able to find your new groove soon, my friend. And yes, let’s not be afraid! Great words!

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  10. These are some great practical tips, Jeanne! Like you, I long to return to “normal” but I’m also very aware that our hope needs to be in God and not in our circumstances. I have found building some kind of a time structure helpful too and I’m grateful for all the ways we have to stay connected with others.

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    1. Lesley, yes, that’s the thing God keeps reminding me of too: our hope needs to be in Him and Him alone. I’m glad you’re finding structure for your days. And yes and amen to being able to stay connected with others at this time!

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  11. These takeaways are so good especially right now. I feel being intentional with your time and giving yourself grace is very important in times like these. Thanks for sharing your heart.

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  12. I really like the idea of time blocking our days. I thrive on schedule and routine…and have been trying to establish at least some time of new routine. But I have way too many extra hours:) Time blocking seems practical, helpful and doable! Great tips, Jeanne!

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    1. Jennifer, I had a feeling we were probably pretty similar when it comes to having routines to help us stay sane. 🙂 I’m so glad you found these tips helpful! I hope you find time-blocking helpful, friend!

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  13. Getting outside has helped me understand what we are going through with the pandemic is SO MUCH BIGGER than me and my single life. The world and all of creation are in God’s control!

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    1. Jessica, on the days it’s nice enough here, I’ve been trying to get outside too, even if for only a little while. I love your words about the perspective that the pandemic is so. much bigger than my single life, and that God’s even bigger still. And I’m grateful He’s in control!

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  14. As always, Jeanne, your photos breathe hope into my heart. I especially love the sunset and those flowers still faithfully coming up in spite of all the changes around us. I particularly pay attention to nature as it’s often how God sends me peace and helps me remember He is still in control. Saturday it was nice enough for us to go for a walk, so we went to a pond near here and watched the ducks and geese. But on Sunday we had a snowstorm! A lot of it is already melted, but it’s still cold. Hopefully the warmth will come to stay soon. After the storm, a robin has been hanging out outside my office window warming himself in the sun and eating from the feeder. Little does he know how much encouragement he’s bringing us. 🙂 Thank you also for all the tips! Wise insight. The positive cases in our city are rising so quickly, the worst in SD. So I’m trying to intentionally focus on the beauty in this situation. Our pastor said in a live service on Sunday that other years our churches would have Easter programs, choirs, etc., some trying to liven things up more, but now we only have the Word of God in front of us which is a good focus for us. I’m so grateful God and His faithful character and His Word never change! Love and blessings to you! Thank you again for your ebook!

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    1. Trudy, I always love hearing about the ways God shows up in your days. The robin didn’t know how God was using it, did it? Good for you on focusing on the beauty. We can see God’s fingerprints, if we’re looking, can’t we? I loved what you said about how, instead of having programs and activities, we have a greater opportunity to focus on God’s word. I’m so glad His word—and He—never changes. I’m sending love and blessings back to you, sweet friend!

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  15. Jeanne, I love the warmth of that word, nurture. And I love the practicality of your words. Sometimes we need 1-2-3 in front of us so we can take the next right step.

    We can’t help another until our own oxygen masks are firmly in place and our heads are clear. Thanks for taking us there today, friend.

    Bless you!

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    1. Linda, please forgive the tardiness of my response! I feel like I’m still somewhat unfocused with our new state of living. 🙂

      I love the word, “nurture,” too. I also appreciated what you said about needing to make sure our own oxygen masks are in place before we work to help others. There’s a lot of truth in that. Thanks, friend!

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  16. Great ideas Jeanne! I especially appreciated the fresh air and the block scheduling! I love planning and being organized, and getting out and away from all that (on a planned schedule of course!) to be refreshed! Thanks for your encouraging and helpful posts during this time!

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    1. Kathy, fresh air is so uplifting, isn’t it? And yes, time blocking helps this organization-loving woman out immensely. I hope you’re finding time to do both in these days!

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  17. Jeanne, I totally agree with Linda about the practicality of your words. I can relate to so much of how you’re feeling and am finding solace and help in many of your steps. Writing also is a big help for me … There are more distractions than usual, of course, and I don’t have large chunks of time to devote to it. But the snatches of time I do get go a long way toward settling my heart and calibrating my emotions. Hugs, friend.

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  18. Jeanne, it is so interesting that our normal routines and daily life were interrupted. But I can see that people are adjusting and a new normal is shaping up. People are finding ways to stay occupied, remain in contact, work from home, deal with being together in a more intensive, on-going way. It is amazing to me, how humans adjust and adapt.

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    1. Anne, I think you’re right. People are adjusting to this new life we’re living in. It’ll be interesting to see how “normal” is redefined when restrictions are lifted. I agree, it’s amazing how God has given humans the capacity to adapt. 🙂

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  19. Powerful reminders, Jeanne. I am practicing several of your tips, but especially getting outdoors. My husband and I went on a long neighborhood walk yesterday. Just the other day we went for a beautiful drive and stopped off at a river and hiked a trail. We plan to do the same thing today in a different area. Appreciate your thoughts here.

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    1. Karen, please forgive my delayed response. I agree that getting outdoors is so refreshing, especially during this time. I’m glad you and your husband are able to get out and hike. I love hiking near water! It must have been beautiful.

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  20. You voiced a lot of what I am feeling and thinking about these days. There is so much unknown and so much out of my control that I find myself grabbing to hold onto something familiar. Thank you for calling us to remember that “normal” is temporary. That is what I hope to hold onto going forward as well as the truth that God is in control.

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    1. Mary, I think you and I are both “normal-loving” women. We like the predictability, the knowing of what’s coming. But God has given us many chances these past weeks to look to and trust Him, hasn’t He? May we both continue to yield control to the Lord going forward from here. I always appreciate your wisdom, my friend!

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