The last year and a half has been nothing short of a confusing and challenging time for all of us. We have adapted to social distancing and have increased our use of technology to stay connected to friends and family. We learned the importance of self-care and prioritizing our mental health. We continue to grieve for our loved ones that may have lost their battle with COVID-19. Although the pandemic is still present, there have been many steps made to help slow the virus from spreading as quickly as it started. Our country has made steady progress with the reopening of businesses and restaurants, as well as making vaccines readily available.
As the light at the end of the tunnel seems closer and closer, we must begin to evaluate ways to adjust to post-pandemic life. The fall season is just around the corner, which is when many of our children will return to their schools and extracurricular activities. With the help of these tips, we hope that you experience an easier and more comfortable transition back to a new normal.
A Lot has changed since the upbringing of the pandemic. Conversations that might have been interesting to have at the beginning of all of this, may bring about unnecessary stress and anxiety now. The pandemic itself, recent political moves, or even community expectations have become challenging conversations to have with others that may not agree with your stance on a given issue. As you navigate social situations and conversations, be sure to identify your limits of what your mental health can take. Instead of avoiding certain conversations, acknowledge that you are setting boundaries for a given relationship or situation.
Another boundary you can set for yourself is how often you are making changes to your lifestyle. The pandemic has taught us to expect the unexpected and to follow guidelines as they take on new measures. Having experienced so much dramatic change, it may be difficult or even unbearable to think about experiencing any more shifts. We all want our normal routines back- you are not alone in that! Setting goals and expectations for yourself is great, but be sure to make changes slowly so that you limit feelings of overwhelm.
Another tip for adjusting back to life after the pandemic would be to give yourself conscious time to grieve. Many of us have had a close loved one or know someone that has lost their life from COVID-19. Acknowledge the heartache, and know that grief is not linear. Dealing with grief head-on is a complex experience for anyone, let alone losing someone because of the pandemic. Be gentle with yourself and use your loved ones for emotional support.
Grieving is a process of acknowledging loss. With that being said, you may also need time to grieve from the things or opportunities you have lost because of the pandemic. You may have had an internship, vacation, wedding, birthday, or other celebration that was not able to happen. All of us have experienced the loss of something or some opportunity likewise this last year. Giving yourself time to cope with what might have been can allow new space to envision what could be or what will be.
Most of us are no strangers to anxiety and stress, and the uncertainty of the pandemic has surely only added to it. Many of us may be anxious to return to work or school after a year of everything being virtual. As you transition, try to navigate new and useful coping mechanisms that will help assist you in social, professional, and personal situations. Here are some suggestions we have that may benefit you:
Use guided mindful meditations (available online as short as 5 minutes long)
Try mindful breathing
Start your mornings with a walk-in nature
Journal your emotions
Read self-help books
Listen to empowering or compassionate podcasts
Mindfulness is an effective way to alleviate stress and anxiety. The cool thing is, it can be utilized anywhere at any time. Being mindful allows you to focus on the present moment, such as the smells in the air or the rate of your breath, and has grounding properties. You can practice mindfulness on your own, or through guided resources.
As life has been quick to change its circumstances, many of us may neglect to process our emotions. Some people may feel frightened over restrictions, or guilty over returning to a new “normal.” Some may be excited to attend social gatherings, and for others that thought triggers anxiety. First and foremost, understand that mixed emotions and feelings are valid and make sense. Be patient with yourself and open to what you are feeling. If you are experiencing vivid distress about returning to life post-pandemic, and if your symptoms are disrupting daily functioning, you may want to consider seeking outside support and guidance. Therapy options, including virtual sessions, are available now more than ever.
The pandemic has been a challenging experience for all of us. The thought of returning to a new normal may be overwhelming, as the transition seems uncertain. Our world has made progress towards slowing the pandemic, and we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. As you transition back into a new normal, you may find that you need support that works for your mental health needs. SokyaHealth offers clinical counseling and treatment for a variety of needs. We offer services for children, adolescents, and adults in California, Oregon, and Alaska. Allow yourself time to grieve over the people and opportunities that were lost to COVID-19. Foster healthy coping mechanisms for your anxiety and stress, and make time to process your emotions as circumstances change. The pandemic has changed all of our lives in ways that may have left us feeling isolated. Reach out to us at 866-932-1767.