The progression of vaccine distribution offers an optimistic outlook for a return to some aspects of normal life in the near future. While exciting, the idea of returning to public life does carry with it some uncertainty and distress for many people. The return to life, as usual, includes a huge disruption of our now-normal pandemic routines as well as the prospect of being thrown back into a social world after a year of isolation and independence. This sudden upending of our professional and personal lives is daunting, so today we have some tips for managing that post-pandemic life stress.
- Validate your emotions. First things first, it’s completely normal to be freaked out at the idea of returning to hectic mornings, dinner reservations, and in-person meetings. Acknowledge those feelings and give yourself permission to take as long as you need to readjust to the changing world.
- Listen to what your anxiety is trying to tell you. What provokes the most anxiety for you when you think of returning to normal life? Is it the office? Letting your kids go back to school? Narrow in on points of stress and address them strategically.
- Develop strategies to calm your nerves. When you feel anxiety rising up, have coping mechanisms at the ready to recenter yourself. Whether this is meditation, listening to music, podcasting, or going for a long walk. Indulge in the healthy habits that bring you peace when you’re stressed.
- Plan your post-pandemic life with intention. So much of the initial stress of the pandemic lay in the loss of control over daily life, but after a year, this freedom from decision-making and obligations is almost a security blanket. Think about what you want your post-pandemic life to look like and make concrete plans so that when it arrives, you aren’t caught off guard.
- Share your struggles. Your friends and family are most likely experiencing similar feelings of unease. Talk about it honestly and share what you’re doing to create a smoother re-entry into society.
- Go slowly. Just because things reopen doesn’t mean you have to run down to the nearest bar. Take things at your own pace and only do what you feel comfortable with. It’s your life so you get to go at your own pace.
- Set boundaries. Communicate what you are and are not comfortable doing to friends and family. Maybe you’re comfortable eating outside but not indoors or you would love to go for a road trip, but aren’t quite ready to take a flight. Explain that you are excited to see people in person, but are taking things at your own pace.