Creeping Normality by Milly Daniels-Young

Hello Brixworthians! I hope you all had a pleasant weekend staying at home, perhaps catching some sunshine in your garden. For the first mental well being post of this week I’m going to discuss Creeping Normality.

Creeping Normality is usually used to describe a political or social move of a big change by doing it in small steady steps. The common example for this is school shootings in America, they once shocked the whole globe and now they are so common that its rare if the news leaves the state. I’m going to explain creeping normality on a more micro scale that might be occurring in your life already. Quarantine and social distancing have shrunk everyone’s day to day world to only include those in our household, this hinders us in separating each day as well as stopping us comparing our lives to others. We start to do more of the things we prefer and what is easy and let the difficult and not-so fun things get left behind. This effect could be something has small as staying in your pyjamas half an hour longer each day, but by the end of the week you are still in your pyjamas at lunch time. It could be drinking one extra beer with dinner, then two days later its another extra glass of wine, over time that new extra becomes the normal and adding another doesn’t seem all that bad. That’s how its “creeps”; time will pass, and you’ll look back at before the lock down and realise you are drinking 3 times as much as before. The big change has happened, and you don’t even know it.

The best way to combat creeping normality is structure and routine. I have discussed the importance of keep routine in my first well being post for reducing stress and anxiety, creeping normality can slowly change your routine so its important to review your routine every week or few days. Writing the routine down with rough times or setting alarms on your phone for prominent events (like lunch or bedtime) can stop it from slipping away from your original plan.

It’s such an easy trap to fall in to, even when you know it is happening it’s tricky to stop it. I know it is occurring in my life, now that I am not leaving for work the same time every day, I have breakfast whenever I can be bothered. This doesn’t sound that big of a deal, but as I take medication with my breakfast, I’ve stopped taking my medication at the same time everyday meaning its less effective. I am trying to remedy this; on a little magnetic whiteboard on my fridge I write the time I take my medication each day so I can track how consistent I am being. Although I’m lacking consistency still, I am actively aware of this, allowing me to be able to improve.

Another technique might be to discuss things you don’t want to “creep” for yourself with those in your household. If you are worried about drinking more than normal or watching more TV than is healthy, let your family or housemates know so they can help you stay on track and you can offer to the same for them. If you agree on this, remember that they will be saying these things out of love and you can’t then bite their head off when they turn the TV off for you or hide the rest of the wine. Use all your will power and remember this is for your well being and your long-term mental health.

Something else that might be “creeping” without intent is our expectation of others, if anything in these unusual times we need to be giving each other more leniency. Some examples of this is expecting children and teenagers to help out more than their normal chores or letting them get away with more (keeping the same routine and rules as before is just as important for them). Everyone is going through this lock down together and whilst it might be motivating you to reach out to your community, your loved ones might find it is causing them to shrink into themselves. Both reactions are acceptable.

Let’s take this post as your reset button on creeping normality. Think about what you’ve been doing over that last few days and compare it to what you would have done before or at the beginning of lock down. Are you still getting dressed? Are you eating healthy and not snacking too much? Drinking more? Smoking more? Reset all of that, undo the “creeping” and get back to your routine.

The long and short of it:

· Creeping normality is big changes happening in small steps

· Lock down increases the effects

· Stick to your routine to combat it

· This post is your reset button

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