By Sofi Matzaganian
After the tumult of the last year and a half, reintegrating into society and “normal” life is probably not as easy as you once imagined. Some people (like me) were forced into entering “regular” life sooner than others because of work demands. Others worked from home and had limited IRL exposure to the outside world. For those of you taking your first few tentative steps back “outside,” are some coping strategies I can suggest from my experience “out here.”
- Get vaccinated.
- Try to remember what pre-pandemic life felt like. Try to recall the comfort and safety you felt in the life you lived before the pandemic started and try to get in touch with those feelings as much as you can. Reflect on things you enjoyed doing before the pandemic and try to do them now as you get back into post-COVID life.
- (It’s hard, I know.)
- Take reintegration at your own pace. It is totally acceptable not to feel ready to go back full force. Take it slow and start by seeing one or two people at a time, perhaps even staying outdoors. Don’t require too much of yourself. Participate only in activities that make you feel comfortable.
- Just because bars and restaurants are open does not mean you have to go to them (or sit inside them). Go at your own pace – and don’t judge yourself.
- Hang out with the friends who want to take it at the same pace you do. Everyone has a different level of comfort surrounding the waning of pandemic. If some friends are going full force into post-COVID life and you’re not about that, that is okay. Set boundaries that make you feel safe and secure. This isn’t the time to push yourself.
- Remember that you aren’t alone and that having a lot of anxiety from the trauma of the last year and a half is normal. You’re not the only one experiencing it. Talking about it with others who feel similarly is a great way to start dealing with those feelings.