Five tips for adjusting to a post-pandemic world
As COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to rise and restrictions are lifted in almost all states, it's natural to feel apprehensive and stressed as well as excited. As people adjust to life in a post-pandemic world, there will be challenges along with celebrations. Need some help adjusting? Here are five expert tips to help you emotionally recover from the pandemic and get acclimated to society reopening:
1. Acknowledge your emotions
The first step in processing something difficult is always recognizing and honoring how you’re coping. You might be feeling stressed, anxious, apprehensive, nervous, excited, upset, a number of other feelings, and likely even a mix of many different emotions. Take time to acknowledge how you’re feeling and give yourself space to process by journaling, speaking with friends and family, walking in nature, and meditating. Remember that there are no wrong feelings to have during this time. Reopening after a pandemic is just as unprecedented as the pandemic itself!
2. Manage expectations
Healing from any life-altering event takes time. Anticipate this process taking longer than overnight. You might even consider anticipating some setbacks in your healing process along the way. And if setbacks don’t occur, you can view it as being pleasantly surprised. Be gentle with yourself as you begin to adjust. For example, it may be difficult to be around large groups again, which may be something you’ve never struggled with in the past. This is normal after adhering to social distancing guidelines for over a year!
3. Listen to your needs and make necessary adjustments
Pay attention to what your mind and body are telling you about what you need. Think about this in multiple spheres of your life. You might think about whether you need more or less social time or more or less quiet and alone time in your personal life. You might think about your general wellness as well, such as diet, exercise, and sleeping habits. Should you eat healthier? Get more sleep? Exercise more? There may be options available that you haven’t considered to aid in the transition to a new normal after COVID-19. Additionally, if you're having a hard time adjusting to returning to work at the office, you should consider reaching out to your supervisor, HR, or your employee assistance program, if these options feel safe and are available to you.
4. Reconnect with others
Everyone needs social connection, whether you identify yourself as an introvert, an extrovert, or a mix between the two. Why? Because social connection is part of being human and is important to our emotional and mental health. Consider reaching out to friends, family, or colleagues at your own pace to begin reintroducing yourself to socialization. If you feel safe doing so, you may consider signing up for an in-person class that aligns with your interests, such as an exercise class, a cooking class, or an art class.
5. Know when to seek help
It’s important to know when to seek additional help. The line is different for everyone, but a good general rule of thumb to go by is that if your mental health symptoms impact your daily functioning for more than two weeks, it may be time to seek help from a therapist. Many therapists continue to offer telehealth appointments, although some are beginning to offer in-person appointments as well. Check with your insurance company to learn about your benefits and to find available therapists in the area. It is completely normal and even common during this time to need extra support.