Now that we are beginning to reconnect with our loved ones and the world, many of us are trying to return to "normal" again. Jumping back into our old routine, however, could cause anxiety. People's fundamental ways of relating and communicating with each other and, indeed the world, have been deeply affected by staying home and social distancing. As our daily lives begin to reset, patience has to be at the forefront of everyone's mind as we learn new ways to function and move through the world.
Many of us may experience a sort of shock if we try to return to our old routines. Now is the time to reflect on what we value most in our lives and move from there to establish new routines. By resetting what we value, we can find a new appreciation for what we no longer need and what helps us cope. Enforced distancing measures are not only changing our work, family, and travel routines, but they're also changing how we interact with ourselves and each other. Learning how to cope with isolation has provided important lessons and can help us rebuild our social connections in a deeper more meaningful way.
Though we may crave tangible social interaction, the thought of going out into the world anew might seem scary for some—and that's OK. In fact, it might be hard to re-engage with the world with the same intensity as before. If that's the case, then consider a gradual reentry. As a therapist I know many will be nervous or even feel guilty about reconnecting on some level. It’s important to take your time and gauge your comfort level as you move forward; then you can begin to make healthy choices for your post-pandemic life.
As a therapist, I often talk with my clients about boundaries. You can take steps to place boundaries on your time and environment, as you resume your old activities and routines, and begin to resume your social connection(s). For example, consider eating at a restaurant with outside seating where it's easier to establish social-distancing instead of dinning indoors. For those who used ride-share services pre-COVID-19, the safer decision now may be to drive yourself in order to manage concerns about sanitization and close contact with others in confined spaces. Or if you are like me, returning to the gym is a challenging thought. Ask the staff about the least busy times and schedule your workout times accordingly.
Whatever the case, to gauge your comfort level, and reduce stress levels related to social situations, ask yourself these questions: