New normal? Old normal? What even is normal anymore!? By Tracey Schouten


Let’s be honest, the definition of normal has been torn up, sanitised, and washed away – COVID style! These ‘unprecedented’ times have come with a silver lining allowing a little more time in our lives to review and potentially make some positive changes.

Some outcomes may have been;

  • Setting new boundaries for work
  • Prioritising family time
  • Moving your body more
  • Developing healthier nutrition habits
  • Investing in relationships & community

Here comes the curve ball….

Due to our current restrictions, it is possible you have fewer inputs and a little more time on your hands. Potentially less obligations which has allowed you to focus a little more inward and prioritise what’s important.

As the inputs start to increase again, I challenge you to go one layer deeper and start to think and strategise what inputs you’re NOT going to welcome back into your life.


Let me remind you of our pre-COVID statistics.

20% of Australians suffer from mental illness each year (1 in 5)

93% of doctors visits are stress related

WHO (World Health Organisation) predicts by 2030 depression will be the number 1 health concern

WHO now officially recognises burnout as a workplace epidemic

The facts are the facts. The way in which we were living pre-COVID was not serving our bodies, and therefore not serving those around us.

I am a big believer (having walked the walk!) that if you burn yourself out and live in a constant state of stress, worry and anxiety – you’re unable to show up as your best self and also serve those around you. The impact you have on those around you cannot be underestimated.

The 21st century has us mindlessly filling our days, hours and moments with many unnecessary inputs. Leaving little clear space to recalibrate and ultimately allowing us to exist in this constant state of panic. We literally stress ourselves out unnecessarily from all the things we ‘get’ to do.

In a conversation by Oprah and Eckhart Tolle, they said “stress is wanting the present moment to be something that it’s not and all of the suffering comes from that”.

Does this resonate with you?’ It begs us to ask the question – is the present moment really so bad?


The only thing that really matters is right in front of you. The present moment. Being still. Savouring.

I am often guilty of letting my mind wander and do 14 things at once. When we stop to think, which I do everyday in my gratitude journal, it’s little wonder the simplest of things are those that we’re most grateful for. Simultaneously, they’re often the moments we miss when our minds are racing.

The taste and texture of your morning coffee

The smile of your loved one

The still sounds of the morning

The crisp fresh Autumn air

A beautiful sunrise

The laugh and creases around a joyful face


This is a rare time in your life where you have the opportunity to create new boundaries, start to minimise and prioritise your inputs and really take control over the life you want to live moving forward. COVID-19 has given you a golden ticket to recalibrate and the only person who gets to choose whether you become one of the 4 statistics above – is you.

YOUR NEW NORMAL – is YOUR new normal.

Invest in yourself. Take the time to work out what you want to add back in, and what you don’t. What those new boundaries are, and then be completely unapologetic about it. One of my favourite sayings is: ‘to fill your cup first and serve others from the saucer’. Ensure when you develop your new grand plan – that you have some self-care and self-management strategies in play.


Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Creating new habits can be uncomfortable and overwhelming. Remember to start small and even a 1% improvement is something to celebrate. Even if that means a 10-minute walk.  Leaving work 10 mins early. Or spending 10 more minutes doing something you love. Changes don’t have to be huge. You will be surprised the dopamine hit you get when you set a small goal – and tick it off at the end of the day.

Consider this excerpt from Stillness is The Key by Ryan Holiday:

‘Stillness is the key…

To thinking clearly

To making tough decisions

To managing our emotions

To identifying the right goals

To handling high pressure situations

To maintaining our relationships

To building good habits

TO being productive

To physical excellence

To being fulfilled

To capturing moments of laughter and joy

Stillness is the key to just about everything.’

The final piece to your grand plan must be to carve some time out to find stillness. Walk with no inputs. Meditate. Sit with yourself. Be unproductive.

Being present requires all of us. It requires us to create time to be still so we’re better able to be present. It’s demanding. It’s not nothing. It may be the hardest yet most rewarding challenge you can conquer.

The only constant in life is change, so start to set up your plan to be better prepared for when the curve balls come, because that’s life.

If you can continue to find joy in the simple things and focus on the present moment then you’re winning already. It’s that simple.


Introducing Tracey Schouten 

Wellness blogger and creator of Flow by Tracey, Tracey Schouten has created a haven designed for those who are stuck in the vicious burnout, stress, fatigue & busyness trap. Tracey helps you find your FLOW and live a better and more balanced life. 

See more blogs and workshops by Tracey Schouten at 

Follow @flowbytracey 


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