It’s been a little over a year since most of the world went into lockdown. For many of us, the change happened overnight. Everything about our lives, our jobs, our habits was changed almost instantly. But now with millions of people being vaccinated, and countries pushing for a sense back to normalcy, we find ourselves heading back to the lives we once knew.
I myself have recently been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and am looking forward to a summer spent traveling and spending time with my loved ones. I feel pandemic fatigue, but I am also apprehensive about the world opening back up. This past week, the CDC announced new guidelines around mask regulations for fully vaccinated people: they do not need to wear masks in small groups outdoors or while partaking in outdoor activities such as walking or biking. However, many people are experiencing anxiety around the world opening back up and getting back to a mask less existence. Here are a few tips to help you deal with going back to our old way of life.
- First, please understand that any anxiety or worry is normal.We all had to adjust to a new way of living. Hypervigilance around our health and those around us, wearing of masks, and social isolation. Now even though we might be looking forward to going back to what we used to know, it is normal to feel anxious around another big change. We don’t know what is going to happen, and that makes us feel nervous. The correct term for this is adjustment disorder. We had to adjust to a new normal, and while we might have finally begun to accept that new normal, we are now expected to adjust to a different normal.
- There is no rush to go back to normal: If you are still hesitant around going mask less or being in large groups, take it step by step. Maybe try walking outside in a park for a while without a mask, or having a picnic with friends outside now that the weather is breaking. You do not need to rush back to social gatherings until you are ready. And understand that it might take time.
- Don’t be afraid to seek help:If the anxiety that you are feeling is so severe that it is affecting your ability to work or sleep, then seeking professional help might be necessary. A mental health professional can work with you to discuss what is causing your anxiety, and hopefully create a plan that will help you to feel more comfortable.
It’s been a long, hard year navigating during a worldwide pandemic. Remember that the CDC still recommends wearing a mask in large crowded outdoor gatherings, washing your hands, and social distancing when indoors. Give yourself extra grace and patience as we all navigate this change together. I wish you all safety, and good health as we begin to head back to normal. Just know there’s no rush, and do it at your own pace!