Life after COVID: What is the “new normal?” By Susan Dalen
There is no question that the last year brought many challenges to us all, mostly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As more of the world becomes vaccinated and things begin to open up, there is a lot of excitement to get back to “normal.” However, with eagerness to see family and friends, go out to restaurants and go back to school in person, there also comes new challenges. We were tasked with making serious shifts in our everyday life during the pandemic; adjusting back to “pre-covid” times may be just as stressful for many.
While some are ready to hit the social gatherings full swing, many will experience hesitation and anxiety about entering the world again. Here is a list of some, and certainly not all, common concerns that may be experienced include:
- Worry about getting sick. Some fear that even though many people are becoming vaccinated, there may be a resurgence of the illness or worse.
- Struggle to reacclimate. Making social plans, scheduling activities and returning to everyday life of work and friends can cause anxiety in many.
- Slipping back into old habits. Many of us have discovered new hobbies or learned valuable things about ourselves and may fear the loss of those positive changes as we “get back to normal.
- Leaving the safety of your own home. For many, home became a safe haven from the virus and a space for the everyday rhythm. Leaving this behind and heading back into the workplace may cause general worry or stress.
With the challenges that the post-Covid world brings, here are some ways to take care of yourself during the transition:
- Find a balance. Perhaps you liked working from home and your job will allow you to stick to that schedule, or your employer can work with you to work some days from home and some days in the office. Or, maybe you aren’t ready for big social gatherings but are ready for a smaller get together in a park with a few friends. Examine what your level of comfort is and find a way to support your needs.
- Build in time for self-care. Pandemic or not, it is important to make yourself a priority. Whether that means eating healthy, exercising regularly, setting time aside to read or meditate, or just allowing yourself to relax and be alone, taking time for yourself is vital to ease everyday stresses.
- Practice mindfulness. Focusing on the present moment helps to keep us grounded and focused. Noticing colors, smells, textures and sounds around you can help feel less overwhelmed and stay present.
- Use your own coping skills. Did you learn a new breathing or grounding technique? Find a path near your house to take a needed walk break during the day? As anxieties increase and life’s pace moves faster, it is important to continue using any skills you found helpful over the last year.
- Talk to others. Your feelings are unique but are not alone in this experience. Reaching out to social supports and professional counselors can help to feel less isolated and give you an outlet to open up about what is causing worry.
- Take it slow. The world shut down pretty abruptly and seems like it is opening up with the snap of a finger. This doesn’t mean you have to hit the ground running. Gradually reenter your circles in a pace that feels comfortable to you. Know your limits and honor your needs as we all begin to navigate the “new normal.”