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Normal? After more than a year of being hypervigilant during a pandemic, I’m not too sure that I remember how normal works. Do you?

Now that the CDC says that fully vaccinated folks can start to do most of the activities that we did before the pandemic, there is an unusual stress that many of us are feeling. The stress of normal. Let’s consider a few things about this stress and see what we might be able to do to make ourselves feel a little better.

Many people are uneasy about life without masks. If we are fully vaccinated, then the mask isn’t as necessary in most situations as it has been, but if it makes you feel more comfortable, then who cares, keep it on. Even if you are fully vaccinated, it’s perfectly OK to continue to wear your mask if it makes you feel less stressed. Of course certain businesses and workplaces may continue to require masks, so it’s best to keep one with you anyway.

Accept that you are stressed. Don’t try to deny that you are feeling stress. All change, good or bad, can come with stress. As much as we try to avoid it, life can just be stressful sometimes, and it is best to acknowledge it and talk about it. Talk with your doctor and also consider starting a meditation practice. Many doctors and therapists will suggest incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine. I suggest starting a daily gratitude journal and listing the things that you are grateful for each day. I also find practicing loving kindness meditation to be a great way to add balance to a stressful time. If you’d like to give this practice a shot, I have recorded some guided meditations on the Insight Timer app that you can try for free.

Support your adrenal glands. When we are under stress, our adrenal glands may suffer. These important glands have a hand in our stress response, energy and focus. I suggest supplementing with a blend of adaptogenic herbs like holy basil, ashwagandha, rhodiola and others. Some adaptogenic supplements will be more calming. Some will be more energizing. Talk with a knowledgeable health food store staff member to see what product fits your needs.

Practice good sleep hygiene. Sleep and stress go hand in hand. If we aren’t getting quality sleep, then the odds are that we will be more stressed. Set a sleep time and stick to it as best you can. Get your brain and body ready to sleep. Turn off your screens a little before bed, read a chapter in a book or meditate for a few minutes instead of binging another episode. I also suggest taking a nightly magnesium supplement to support deep sleep.

At this point “normal” is a change, and our brains don’t take to change all that well. It’s OK to be stressed. It’s OK to go slow. Life has been weird for so long that it might be even weirder to get back to normal and that’s fine. Go at your own pace. Do what feels safe for you. Stress is stress, and even if it feels a little silly or odd to be stressed about getting our normal back, your stress is valid. Get some sleep, be mindful, support your adrenals, get vaccinated if you haven’t or at least talk with your doctor about it if you have questions or concerns. We’re all in this together even if we’re all going at our own pace.

Travis Lemon is a certified herbalist and co-owner of Tulsi at The Market in Huntington. He has worked in the natural health and wellness industry for over 14 years. He can be contacted at travislemonmh@gmail.com.

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