Curb your anxiety and reenter society with hope
|Posted by Jinnene| Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash
We all wish to reenter society with hope, right? Which is to say, we’d like to feel more lightheartedness than stress over it all. A return to normalcy after months in pandemic land is a desire we can certainly find solidarity around. While we’ve patiently waited, the adage-turned-platitude has underscored popular discourse: “we’re all in this together.” Finally, as vaccination recipients increase and COVID case loads decrease in the U.S., we can see some clear light in sight.
But despite the question of when we can return to our lives already and get back to the business of living that has plagued so many of us, new questions have begun to surface:
Is it safe to reenter society? What can I expect? What safety precautions are my employer taking? Are my kids going to be safe at school? What am I supposed to do with this mask–wear it, don’t wear it? Do I remember how to socialize? Do I even want to socialize?
All valid concerns. But rather than get carried away into an anxiety juggernaut as we consider concerns surrounding a return to (somewhat) normal living, it can be useful to take a mindfulness approach: pause, reflect. Then, open up to the silver lining. Remember: yes it is possible to reenter society with ease.
Let’s check out some light-hearted concepts we might contemplate as we prepare for a productive return to face-to-face lifestyles.
COVID has likely irreversibly altered our preferences
“What makes me most stressed is going back to the office and having that first water cooler chat. I hope everyone is just as awkward as I am.” This is from one listener, Michelle Kincaid of NPR’s Life Kit podcast published on April 4 and entitled, “Do We Even Know How To Socialize Anymore?”
If you’re thinking about returning to work in person, or reentering society in any face-to-face capacity, you might give this comforting podcast a listen.
Another listener shares, of her possibly unalterable preferences post-COVID: “I can’t be bothered to wear a bra or pants. I’m going to miss that luxury. My workplace is not ready for how feral I’ve become.” (:30)
I can relate.
But what about the structure of our day-to-day lifestyles? Do we really want to work all day every day in the way we were doing this before? One listener says no:
“I’m hopeful that we as a society will not run back into an office forty plus hours a week.” (1:40)
Do you agree? Have you enjoyed some of the changes that COVID inherently brought about? If so, how can you use your resourcefulness to maintain some of those positive shifts in your life?
We can use humor to put a crisis in proper perspective
If you failed to enjoy the subtle humor in some of the reactions aforementioned, perhaps a well-drawn comic will lift your spirits. I thoroughly enjoyed this one put out by The New Yorker magazine’s Instagram handle (newyorkermag) whereby an ostensibly young woman reports about her dreams about returning to normal after pandemic only to be faced with the inevitable: she’s become drastically anti-social to the degree of morphing into a toad.
She begins her tale:
“Last spring, I had all these fantasies about what it would be like when the pandemic ended… (I’m gonna hug everyone so hard).”
Give this post from April 10 a look–it will undoubtedly make you smile.
The business world may maintain hybrid arrangements
Perhaps about half of companies surveyed said they feel prepared for returning operations in person. Interestingly enough, many business giants like Microsoft report that they’ll return while incorporating hybrid arrangements (partially working from home, partially on site).
You can read up more on this subject in the article, Predictions on returning to work: chaotic?
One thing I’ve found useful as a reflection activity is to think about the work life I’d like to maintain post-pandemic. You might write down some possible questions:
What was working pre-COVID that I hope to return to?
What wasn’t working pre-COVID that I improved upon in my personal life or at work?
How can I work with my employer(s)/clients to maintain a healthy work-life balance for myself?
I’m so glad we reflected briefly on how we can reenter society with hope.
I’d love to hear from you! Learn how you can sign up to my newsletter and/or contact me here. If you’re interested about processing silver linings with regards to sadness, you can check out my article, How to Turn Sadness into a Silver Lining.
We’ve been through a lot, and we should embrace all possibilities. Let’s be kind to ourselves.