Seems easy to fall back into a routine, doesn’t it? Most of the time, yes. But when you’ve spent more than a year living through a global pandemic, those once-regular habits seem like anything but. However, with time, patience, and some helpful advice, we can all start getting back to what’s familiar.
Many are ready to get back to the pre-pandemic activities they remember and enjoyed. But for others, jumping back into what was once considered normal can seem overwhelming. This is especially true because so many of us have been out of practice for so long regarding simple things like friendly conversation or social interaction.
For a large number of us, our social skills are rusty, which is completely expected and understandable. And while everything and everyone around us slowly eases back into those familiar routines, it’s okay to feel apprehensive. Not everyone adjusts at the same speed or in the same ways.
None of us has ever lived through these circumstances, so to not feel normal – is absolutely normal. Your readjustment period can’t and shouldn’t be rushed. Pay attention to your comfort level and go at your own pace. If you’re ready to jump in right away, great. And if you’re not, that’s completely okay, too.
Just remember: You’re in control when it comes to what’s best for you.
For more than a year, we learned to adapt to a society in which contact and communication was anything but usual. This became our new normal. And this is how we’re used to interacting – by not interacting.
Now, we need to undo the thinking it took so long for us to accept. Naturally, this yo-yo effect can create stress and anxiety, but we have some tips on how to adjust and alleviate your apprehension.
Lean on family and friends. Talk with relatives or close friends or meet up with them one-on-one or in a small group. The best way to reacquaint yourself with people is to do so with those around whom you’re already comfortable. The people you reach out to first when sharing big news? Those are your people. Find them and connect with them again. As you become more relaxed, slowly increase your social circle to allow your social skills to grow.
Exercise. If you’re feeling anxious, sweat it out. Go for a walk or a run, take a bike ride through your neighborhood, or grab a jump rope or some weights. Exercise can help you feel less tense. Physical exertion helps to relieve mental stress by lowering the body’s stress hormones and releasing mood-improving endorphins. When you’re centered, you may feel more prepared to take on the world. (And even if you don’t, that’s just fine.)
Grab some gum. Crazy as it sounds, chewing gum can help lower anxiety. Not only that, but gum chewing also increases alertness and improves mood. So, get a pack of your favorite fruit-or mint-flavored gum and give it a try. You may just chew your way down a more laid-back path toward familiarity.
Lowering anxiety in general may help you to feel more relaxed about interacting with and being around others. If you still feel stressed, don’t get discouraged. Again, there is no deadline to meet and no rules to follow. Do whatever makes you feel safe and comfortable at a pace that makes you feel safe and comfortable.
Change is difficult, especially when it’s sudden and drastic. We’ve already done it, so we know we can do it again. And this time, we should already be prepared to anticipate and handle changes along the way. As more people get vaccinated and things open up, some individuals and even some businesses may adjust slower than others. Be ready for anything and expect the unexpected.
COVID-19 protocols made us aware that things could change and should change – and maybe for good. Some safety measures that were put into place over the past several months may have been so beneficial that they become the new thing. Standard operating procedures may get overhauled and become new standards.
Time will tell what’s best for our communities, and eventually what’s “normal” may look completely different from the pre-COVID normal. The uncertainty of where we’re headed can seem like a cyclical and unnerving pattern but remember that learning to readjust doesn’t happen overnight.
And this time, we’re (mostly) going back to what we knew – except now we are better equipped because of what we already know.
If the idea of reentering society right now seems overwhelming, you’re not alone. After what the world has been through, feeling anxious about going back to “normal” is justified.
What is normal anyway? Who knows? We will likely need some time to adjust and determine our best path toward getting back to what’s familiar. If you find yourself struggling to adapt, overcome with anxiety, or paralyzed by the idea of reintegrating into the community, The Calli Institute understands. And we’re here to help you find the calm and the balance to allow yourself to ease back into your individual normal. If you have questions or need to talk, reach out to us today.