When was the last time we went out of the house and did not have to wear a mask? When was the last time you saw your favorite diner cashier’s smile? The last time you held your grandparents was more than a year ago. And now that there is a threat of the Delta variant, a highly transmissible mutation of the SARS-CoV-2, there are fears that some states will reimpose social distancing restrictions.
After all of these have passed, there will be a massive study on the anxiety and depression caused by the pandemic. Experts will weigh in on how people suffered from anxiety during this phase in their lives. Remember, you haven’t gone out of the house in the past one-and-a-half years without fearing that you may take home the virus with you. That’s why many employees decided to continue working from home even if it’s not mentally healthy for them (because of the distractions in the house). To keep their families safe, they have to risk their mental health.
The world will go back to normal; that is a given. It’s only a matter of time. So, while you are cooped up in your homes, you better get yourself ready for what comes after these devastating years of your life.
Take It Slow
Go at your own pace. Don’t feel like you have to say “yes” to everything after life went back to normal. Go to where you feel like going. Be very conscious of your comfort level. Understandably, you have apprehensions about getting out of that comfort zone. Take it one step at a time. No one is rushing you, so you shouldn’t force yourself.
Don’t Avoid Things Entirely
You cannot live in this bubble you created for yourself entirely. That is not the way to live. You have to expand your circle now that it is safer to go out (because of the vaccine). Try to do things in small and manageable ways first. Instead of attending online gym classes 100% of the time, why don’t you go out two times a week and work out in an actual gym? If a gym is not comfortable enough for you, find a personal trainer who can work out with you privately. Just make sure that the trainer has an Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) certificate that they can get from an AFAA CEU provider.
Get the Right Information
What’s causing anxiety more than ever is the wrong information being disseminated on the internet. Anyone will get anxious with all the malicious posts and fake news on social media. Get your information from a legitimate government source such as your health department’s or, in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Talk to Someone You Trust
You are not alone in this phase. There are many like you who are suffering from the anxiety caused by the pandemic. Talk to people you trust. Open up to them about your fears and worries. Like you, they might also need someone to talk to. A short conversation will make you feel supported and understood. This is one step closer to your goal of managing the anxiety you feel when you have to go out of your house.
Make Time to Relax
Sure, you’ve been staying mostly at home since the pandemic began, but there is not a second that you were able to relax because of your fears. Be deliberate about your relaxation time. Whether it’s gardening, walking in a local park, or going to a spa, do anything that will help lift your mood. Managing stress is especially hard these days, but you have to do it for your own sanity.
What are the things that are making you anxious? If you are anxious about public transportation, then find another way to travel. If you are getting anxious about the prospect of attending a friend’s wedding, then tell that friend that you might not stay for long. Plan early so that you can quickly identify and solve the issues. By looking at the details of the plan, you will see situations where you might not feel comfortable. You can then try to look for alternatives so that you don’t have to compromise your safety.
All your feelings about the pandemic are valid. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Sure, some are lucky enough not to suffer from severe anxiety because of the pandemic, but many people have very valid fears. Don’t rush into things even if the world goes back to normal. More than anything else, value your mental well-being because it’s what made you survive the pandemic in the first place.