By Suzanne Grimmesey, MFT, Santa Barbara County, Behavioral Wellness Department
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives, and right now, some are experiencing anxiety over the reopening of our community. As we start to resume some of our previous activities in a safe way, it is natural that this may also create some anxious feelings that need to be worked through.
First and foremost, it is important to understand that some people may be ready to socialize and transition back to previous ways of life more quickly than others.
There may be pressure from friends and family to get out again and to step outside of our comfort zone before some of us are ready to do so.
Here are a few tips to help you safely ease back into life after COVID-19:
Set your own pace and comfort level for resuming activities and seeing friends and family. There is no need to rush back to the way things were and it can be very helpful to take small steps.
It is normal to feel nervous. It may help to talk yourself through these feelings or seek out a professional to process these feelings with you.
Practice getting out in public in way that feels safe for you. Choose activities that do not involve crowds of people; make plans with a friend you feel comfortable setting parameters with ahead of time.
Even though some masking guidelines have been relaxed, you may choose to ask people you are with to wear a mask, stay in an outdoor setting or position your chairs six feet apart. If these actions help you feel safe, you should kindly ask those you are making plans with to adhere to them.
Consider practicing deep breathing or other relaxation techniques so that you are prepared in case you find yourself in a public setting, feeling anxious. Prepare with these techniques to calm yourself down and prepare a plan to excuse yourself from the situation if needed. Sometimes just planning ahead for a way out of a situation can help us feel more at ease in social situations.
Over the last several months, we have had to learn to live with uncertainty and returning to our activities is another step in this process. Be kind to yourself and know that you will get through this!