After a full year of isolating at home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, as more people are vaccinated and immunity develops, the world is beginning to open up again. Although people have been longing for face-to-face socialization, many may be feeling concern about participating in group activities and wonder if they will struggle with post-pandemic anxiety with a return to “normal” life.
For months most people, especially older adults and those with health conditions, have tried to stay vigilant about wearing a face mask, distancing from others, washing hands and avoiding crowds. Once vaccinated, people will be able to hug and kiss their distanced loved-ones and gather with groups outside their household or COVID bubble. But it may take time to readjust and feel comfortable doing these things that just weeks ago were forbidden.
According to a recent Washington Post opinion piece by Lucy McBride, a primary care doctor, the transition to a post-pandemic life may be complex for many people as they conquer fears or anxiety related to reentry. But just as we coped with the worries and stresses of quarantine in the early days of the pandemic, talking about our feelings with others and using the techniques we have learned to quell panic will help ease the shift into this next phase.
Although eating in a restaurant, travelling or returning to a place of worship may be cause for celebration, there are some shifts in lifestyle that many people will continue with long past the reopening of public life. Eating nutritious home-cooked meals, spending time outdoors in nature, exercising, getting more sleep and using slow breathing or meditation to calm anxiety will be tools to rely on as we move through what comes next.
Taking care of mental health, and seeking professional help if needed, promotes overall well-being. Worry, panic, or feelings of apathy and hopelessness are common following trauma like the pandemic, and if left unchecked can contribute to an increased risk for chronic health problems.
Read more about mental health and the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic by following this link to the Bent Not Broken project presented by HuffPost media.