There is a large amount of uncertainty in the world right now.
Do I wear a mask or not? Should I shake their hand? What if someone tries to hug me? Are they vaccinated? Will they be okay if I want to eat outside? When will I have to go back into the office to work?
We do not quite know what this summer will look like, or even what the rest of the year will look like, but there is one thing that is certain- it will be different.
This different for you might be positive or it might be uncomfortable.
So, how do we handle the uncertainty?
There is certainly no manual to explain how to handle a “post-COVID” world and all that comes with it. However, there are a few things you can focus on that might provide some guidance in approaching the next several months.
There is no perfect way to ease back into the world. Some might be more hesitant than others, and that is absolutely okay. Start where you are and start small. Haven’t gone out to eat in a restaurant yet? No worries! Maybe start at a small restaurant and sit outside. You could even order your meal online so you only have to go inside to pick it up. Instead of going home to eat, maybe sit at one of the outside tables. This will give you some exposure to having others around you but will allow you to maintain a safe and comfortable distance. When you begin to feel more comfortable, build from there!
Boundaries are important for you and your family. These can include who your family will spend time with, what locations you will go to, and how you will interact with others in public. There is no shame in setting a boundary and keeping that boundary. You might need to remind others about the boundaries you have set, and that is just fine.
Take your time
There is no rush to jump back into life in the same way you were living before COVID. Would it be nice to go back to “normal?” Absolutely. But that is just not realistic. Pace yourself and understand that the fear and hesitancy about re-entry is both real and valid. This is not a race to win. Go slowly and go where you feel comfortable.
Know that during this re-entry phase you will be uncomfortable. One way to be prepared for this discomfort is to have some coping skills on hand. These could include deep breathing, a playlist to listen to while going out into public, meditate by focusing on an object around your while you are in public, say the alphabet backwards, or hum your favorite song. These are quick things you can do when experiencing anxiety in public.
This might seem contradictory to the others, but is still very important. Being in isolation for the past year makes staying in isolation a little easier. It might be easier to stay in and order take out. Or choose not to go to that function because you haven’t had to for the past year. As stated before, re-entry will be uncomfortable. So sometimes, give it a try, with the things needed to keep you healthy and safe. Don’t be afraid to phone a friend and have someone help you along the way. Find someone who can be an accountability partner and will lovingly encourage you to venture out in ways you might be more hesitant.
Remember, there is no manual. There is no perfect way to enter back into the world. Start small, set boundaries, take your time, be prepared, and don’t forget to push yourself a little! The fear, anxiety, and hesitancy you might be feeling are valid.
If you feel like it is too much for you to carry alone, reach out for help. We are always here to provide support and help! Call to make an appointment to see one of our clinicians.