by Nina Westbrook
Between conversations with friends, family and colleagues, I’ve been hearing the words ‘re-entry anxiety’ quite a lot. What I’m finding is that there are two overarching responses to this post-pandemic return to everyday living, with a mix of people that fall somewhere in between. First, are the people who are excited by regular change. They may crave social interaction, they’re often fueled by being around others, and they’re those friends you see jumping right back on that train to so-called ‘normal’ life. It can seem as though their post-pandemic return is effortless and, from the outside, it may even appear like their lives weren’t impacted at all.
Then we have the group of people who are finding it more difficult to make that return. This may be a person of habit and the habits they picked up during quarantine are harder for them to leave behind. They may feel more safe and secure wearing a mask, prefer to avoid large groups of people, and enjoy working from home. Perhaps they thrive in a WFH environment and are content without that daily commute considering that it might also have a positive impact on the Earth as a whole.
If you’re a member of the group that’s feeling more hesitant about this re-entry to normal life, I’m sharing a few thoughts that I hope ease the transition. Have any thoughts about post-quarantine reentry that you want to share? Drop them in the comments below!
Appreciating All We Learned
Quarantine was a challenge for almost everyone I know and I realize that many people across the globe are still living in quarantine until they have access to a vaccine. Throughout the pandemic, we experienced a great deal of pain and many of us are still mourning significant losses. What’s interesting is that I’ve also seen a lot of you acknowledging the moments of good that were speckled throughout the experience as well. Despite every challenge, quarantine offered each of us time for self-reflection and growth. We undoubtedly learned a lot about ourselves as well as those around us and all of that information is incredibly valuable. If you’re feeling hesitant about re-entry, it’s possible that you’ve grown to appreciate this added sense of mental and emotional space and are worried that all of that will soon be gone. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s simply time to take everything you’ve learned plus the space you carved out for yourself and make them all work for you in the outside world.
Knowing It’s Okay to Take Things Slow
It took time to build up all of these new habits and it’s going to take time to let them go. Over the course of nearly two years, we grew accustomed to an entirely new way of life and changing that up quickly can feel overwhelming. Don’t shock your system by conforming to what people around you may be doing. Ease yourself back into society slowly and only participate in activities that you feel comfortable doing. Be gentle with yourself and focus on returning to the people and activities that bring you the most joy.
Establishing and Reenforcing Healthy Boundaries
All of that time spent at home during the pandemic offered us an opportunity to reset. We were able to assess who we were prior to quarantine and reflect on who we want to be in the future. Reentry can be approached as somewhat of a rebirth and an essential part of making that process less stressful is checking your boundaries. Did you like the way you were living before? Were you surrounding yourself with people who didn’t respect your boundaries? Maybe you were doing things you weren’t interested in just to please others. Remember that you don’t have to pick back up where you left off. This is your opportunity for a fresh start and I’ve found that the healthiest mindsets are often the product of setting healthy boundaries.