Days at the lake. Barbeques. Warm nights on the patio. In our pre-COVID world, those were just a few of the things that we could look forward to as summertime would approach.
And then, COVID happened. And, just as it had taken so much from us already, it stole our summer too. It seemed a small price to pay, at the time. Sure, there were no festivals or concerts to attend, but nobody wanted to go anywhere anyway. COVID was spreading, a vaccine was a dream that felt a long way off. And so, as we do, we adapted. Summer 2020 was about staying home and staying safe.
And so was the fall. And the winter.
We did see a few false starts and some back and forth, but as we crossed the year anniversary of the pandemic and into spring of 2021, things were finally looking up. The vaccine that had seemed such a long way off was finally here and a return to normalcy (or at least a new sort of normal) actually seemed within our grasp as we began the countdown to our next summer.
Now that you’ve read that, I invite you to pause for a second and take a quick inventory of how that makes you feel. Excited? Relieved? As if we are finally reaching the light at the end of an extraordinarily long tunnel? Maybe all of that.
But is there something else? A bit of anxiety or fear? Maybe something you can’t even quite put your finger on.
If so, you’re not alone.
That, in itself, may be a relief so please take comfort in that, first of all. In fact, as I was putting together notes for this blog, I came across this post on Instagram:
At posting time, it has received thousands of likes and hundreds of comments, many expressing surprise and relief that this is such a common feeling.
Along with the fact that it is boringly “normal”, to feel anxious when anything major changes, we have collectively been through a LOT. Our legitimate concerns for our shared health were enough that the freedoms that we had always been able to take for granted were lost for awhile and that changed things for us.
And what about those legitimate concerns for our health? For a lot of us, our own general good health and that of those closest to us were also things that we could easily take for granted. That has taken a 180. We are not the same as we were the last time we had this freedom. How do we know that we are ready for it all back?
Not only that, but we were forced to face this in a new way – alone Many of us weren’t able to see our closest family members, let alone attend any social gatherings. Humans are social creatures – too much isolation is not good for our mental health in the best of times.
And now, we are, as the post says, supposed to “drop that and move on”?
These are promising times – but they are also scary and a bit overwhelming. And just as we must take extra care of our physical health( with the help of tools like vaccines and masks), we must do the same for our mental health.
Consider some of these to help with the transition, as public health guidelines allow:
- Go for a walk or to a park with a friend. Start getting outside again and socializing before being forced into more overwhelming situations.
- Take your dog to a dog park.
- Consider zoom/FaceTime, if you haven’t yet. A zoom/FaceTime chat is a great way to ease back into social situations.
- Don’t keep it bottled up! So many of us are feeling like this – it’s okay – even helpful – to talk about it.