Stay at home orders are being lifted, many have been vaccinated and by a quick glance at things there is a lot to be optimistic about! It’s been over a year since the first lockdown and now it feels like we’re on the home stretch to life that looks very similar to 2020 B.C. (Before Covid).
Although, there’s a new — not so familiar feeling that I can’t say I had in 2020 B.C. When I think about all the normal things I did then, like going to live sporting events, joyously traveling the world and being in a large crowd of more than 20 I get… anxious.
I find myself wondering about the who/what/where/why/when and how of things shutting down again. I also wonder about the long-term impact this pandemic may have on my well-being and those of whom I love.
If you’re feeling these feels too, it’s actually normal — based on the research I’ve come across.
“It’s normal for people to feel anxious about adapting to more changes, including meeting in person again, says Bethany Teachman, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia and director of its Program for Anxiety, Cognition and Treatment Lab.
It’s good to know I’m not alone but I definitely don’t want anxiety to be making decisions for me. So, here are a couple of tips I have found helpful through research and implementation:
Let’s Start Slow
Transitioning back into “normal” is going to be somewhat abnormal because you are not who you were this time last year. Take small steps in the direction you’d like to go, on your timeline.
People can build up “normalcy” slowly, Teachman says — assuming that they’re safely following CDC guidelines. “First, you can meet with one or two people doing something outdoors that you haven’t been doing. Then you can work up to meeting with a few people indoors,” she says. “You can do it step-by-step and build up so that each step adds a little bit of challenge. But you don’t have to go from zero to 100 in terms of level of difficulty.”
Self Compassion and Major Self Love
Taking time for yourself, getting active, eating well and being mindful is a recipe for self-care that we can get behind. Take the time to do the things that make you feel more like you and who you want to be — now.
As we exit our homes and head back into a the world that used to be ‘the danger zone’, showing yourself self-compassion by defining the goal of your social interaction: To reconnect with an old friend, to visit family, to hug another human you love or travel to feel connected to the world again and remind yourself why you value the goal of reconnecting and living life fully and safely again.
Teachman says, “You should go into things expecting that things will feel strange for a while. That’s a very natural reaction in light of what’s been going on, and it doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you if you’re feeling some anxiety or stress at doing things you haven’t done for a very long time”.
A New Routine for A New Me
As many times as “pivot” was said last year, it’ll feel really good to not pivot and get back into the groove of things. Creating a healthy routine is what we as, creatures of habits, love. That’s why when big changes were happening we felt a big shift in our entire being.
It’s always a good time to create a new, healthy routine. We can start doing things like waking up at the same time everyday, making time for some Vitamin D and sunshine, or calling mom every Sunday. Routines help us feel settled, back in control and dare we say liberated again!
If You’re Still Uncertain
Apprehension may cause alarms to go off in your mind and body but asking yourself a set of systematic set of questions can help.
Teachman suggests asking questions like: ‘Am I assuming the worst? Is there another way to look at this situation’ those types of questions will allow you to weigh the actual evidence better instead of asking yourself, ‘Hey, I have this feeling, and that’s what I need to respond to.’”
Asking For Help is Encouraged
If you are struggling tremendously with resuming your life/new life post-pandemic, it’s encouraged to talk with trusted friends and family about your feelings, you may find that you share some of the same feelings. And it’s also encouraged to seek professional help as you navigate through this transition (sooner than later)
“That desire to avoid [it] is really strong when you’re anxious, but it makes the problem so much worse. The more people say, ‘I’m not going to go do this, it’s not OK to do this — all of those kinds of things — it’s going to get harder over time for that individual to re-enter situations.” Teachman states.
I’m looking forward to a summer of adventures in 2021… but first let me make a goal list of why this is insanely important to me because anxiety isn’t choosing my adventures for me.
National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help/