Amanda P. Johnson, MS, LAMFT • [email protected]
The past 13 months have been a rollercoaster of emotions with COVID-19 and mental health. It has been a difficult mixture of loss, trauma, anxiety, stress, boredom, peace, depression, relief, appreciation, and gratefulness. As we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel it can feel so good to start to put the past behind us while also feeling anxious about getting “back to normal”. Having both of these feelings at the same time is totally normal and can feel overwhelming in how to navigate life-changing once again.
Here are some tips to help manage the anxiety, relief, and excitement in this transition:
It was a process to get in, it will be a process to get out. We have been in a state of “not normal” for over a year now. It is going to take some time to adjust back to whatever your new normal will look like. It is important to be patient with yourself and your loved ones about this process. Try to pause the judgment of what “it should be like”.
Furthermore, it is really normal to feel anxious or scared about becoming more active yourself or watching others around you become more active. There will be an adjustment period and that is okay! Spend some time sitting with your anxiety (there is probably some really good information here) – What is it saying? What part is scary? What makes it get big? How are you coping with it? Is your coping helpful or keeping you stuck? When we boil it down to what is actually making us fearful, it helps guide our plan of how to manage it.
Make a Plan
It is important to talk with your loved ones about what makes you feel safe, what activities/people/amount of people you are comfortable with and set boundaries around those decisions. Knowing what to expect about your plans in the future will give you time to process your feelings about it.
Balance Needs: Get back to “Normal” and Physical Health
This is going to look different for everyone and that is okay! What parts of “normal life” can you start safely incorporating again? It has been a long time of isolation. Bringing back connection with loved ones and friends will be a mixture of joy and apprehension – this is normal! Again, the most important piece here balancing your physical health and your emotional health.
Your Normal May Look Different
Give yourself space and compassion to deal with how your new normal looks different than your old normal or how it looks different than others. Everyone is doing the best they can with what they’ve got.