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Take it easy on yourself and others as the world starts to open back up.

With so many Americans getting vaccinated from COVID-19, there are many more opportunities to be social. For some, this is an exciting prospect, but even if you are excited, it may bring up some feelings of anxiety to get out there and socialize.

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 If you have been socially distancing for the past year, even the most social people can experience anxiousness when you “get back out there” among friends and family. With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s important to think about how the pandemic has impacted us and the world around us. Here are some quick tips to dive back in.

  • Focus on what you can control. Our lives are filled with uncertainty and things that feel like they are way out of our control. While you can’t control everything you experience, there are things you can control- like considering if you feel comfortable in a maskless environment or deciding how long you feel comfortable visiting with someone. Be honest with yourself about what you want and need. Focusing on what you can control gives you the ability to feel like you have some control over what you’re experiencing, even though there may be other difficult things that you have to navigate.

  • Think about your social plans and events and consider how they’ll work for you and your needs. We’re all so excited to go out and visit and do all of the things that we couldn’t do for so long. Excitement and anxiety can feel very similar. So, try to make a list of the most important things you want to do as the world starts to open up again. Whether it’s visiting a family member, going on your annual fishing trip, or finally riding a roller coaster with your adventurous granddaughter, having an idea of what you really want to do might make it easier to deal with FOMO (fear of missing out) and help you focus on what you can control.

  • Give people grace. The pandemic has been hard on all of us for any number of reasons. Even if you weren’t greatly impacted by the pandemic personally, it has had an impact on everyone to some extent. Just as things might feel difficult or confusing or even scary to you, others may be feeling or experiencing the same things. Now is a great time to think about the grace you can give others and you can give yourself to slowly find our way into a new reality.

It’s completely normal to feel abnormal about the world and how you fit within it now that so much has changed, but still so much has stayed the same. Just take it easy on yourself and others and hopefully you’ll go into this next chapter with the tools to be happy and healthy and in a good place with your mental health. If you find that is difficult to do, you may want to consider talking with a therapist who can help you navigate these new challenges and opportunities. Being honest about who we are and what we need is always a great tool to live a longer, healthier life.

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