More than half of the American population has been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of June 2021. Infection rates have dropped to their lowest levels, and restrictions and mask mandates are being lifted across the country. In other words, dare we say it, life is returning to normal.
So, now what?
If you have been practicing social distancing and wearing a mask when in public for the past year and some change, it can be jarring to think of suddenly going back to normal. Being near people in public again without a mask can feel unsafe. Hugging friends may feel strange. Even simply deciding what to do can seem like a daunting task when there hasn’t been much to plan in such a long time.
Don’t worry. This is all just part of being human. We develop and break habits frequently, and all this is learning how to develop a habit of being around people again.
Adapting to normal life after COVID-19
- Baby steps — As with all things you learn to do, you need to start off slow. Even if you socialized a lot before COVID-19, you need to relearn what it feels like to be around people without concern for health and safety.
Take it slow. Hang out in small groups with people you are close with in a familiar place, such as inviting close friends to your home. Maybe you can host a game night so you can focus on having fun instead of worrying in the back of your mind. Then you may move on to hanging out with that same group in a public casual space, such as a cafe. After that, who knows, you may feel more ready to be in public around strangers again before you know it!
- Community — Get back into a community you trust. If you had a church community prior to COVID-19, it may be time to start revisiting them in person. If you didn’t have a church community before, now may be the best time to find one.
A church community is made up of people who love and support one another through good and bad times. These are exactly the kinds of people you may want to surround yourself with as you are adjusting to how to be around people again.
- Counseling — This is an important one. Many of us may scoff at the thought of counseling just so we can hang out with our friends again, but the reality is, many of us need it.
Professional counseling is nothing to be ashamed of, and it is not something we need to wait for something drastic to consider, such as a depressive episode. You can visit a professional counselor now to assist you with your mental health needs, such as anxiety at the thought of being around people right now.
They can get to understand your specific, unique circumstances and work with you to find a solution that is best for your needs.
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