After a year spent adjusting to restrictions and new regulations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might finally feel like you have a handle on things. With vaccines available, the call to get things back to a semblance of normalcy has become the focus. If you have been managing your recovery successfully through telehealth services, online chats with friends and family and working from home, the thought of transitioning back into the life you lived before could feel intimidating or even premature.
You are not alone in your response; many others are experiencing anxiety and stress over the thought of returning to work, attending crowded social events or even attending small social gatherings. Still, you might question if your anxiety is valid and therefore feel as though it is unhealthy not to want to return to “normalcy” as quickly as others. Understand that your concerns are valid. Let’s look at how you can better prepare yourself to transition back into the in-person world while successfully managing your recovery.
Control What You Can Control as You Transition Back into the “New Normal” of COVID-19 While in Recovery
When you feel anxious, you might go out of your way to try and control everything you encounter to feel like you are protected. From this, you not only try to control things you can’t, which leads to more anxiety, you could also make your loved ones feel as though they are doing something wrong because they don’t approach it the same way you do. It is important to remind yourself about what you can control and what you cannot control.
If you are planning to see friends for the first time, you can write a list of relevant factors that you have control over. These may include getting a vaccine, transportation, social distancing, wearing a mask, etc. It not only helps you transition back to a sense of normalcy more comfortably, but it will be reassuring to understand that you can control how you approach it and remove yourself from a stressful situation at any point. Think back to uncertain times in your recovery. You’re likely to find examples where you have been resilient before, and you can rely on the same resilience now as you control what you can control.
Don’t Wait for Anxiety to Go Away as You Transition Back into the “New Normal” of COVID-19 While in Recovery
As long as the things you want to do are considered low-risk or safe, don’t wait until the day when you have no anxiety about doing them. Feeling anxious does not mean that you are in danger or that something is wrong. It is a normal response to entering post-pandemic life. Therefore, if you are slowly getting comfortable doing certain things like going out shopping, going to a park or even sitting outside on your porch, you should do them. The idea is that the more you can safely and comfortably participate in these activities, the less power your anxiety will have over you. Your nervous system will start to recognize that you are not in any certain danger.
Alternatively, you want to be responsible about what activities you introduce back into your lifestyle. Overcoming anxiety does not necessarily mean that you need to overwhelm yourself by going to a crowded event. You might begin with making plans to see one or two people. Over time you will develop more comfort and confidence to handle more. Understand that moving at your own pace is okay so long as you are working toward growth. However, if your anxiety brings disproportionate stress and interferes with your life, then it is probably time to speak with a professional.
Make a List of Things You are Excited to Do Again as You Transition into the “New Normal” of COVID-19
Creating a bucket list of things to do can help shift your perspective to a more optimistic one. Looking ahead to the positive experiences that await can create a sense of hope, optimism and relief from the anxiety you might currently be experiencing. Your list does not need to involve high aspirations or unreasonable or unbelievable goals. It could be as simple as having a picnic at the beach, walking around a shopping mall or camping with friends. The idea is to help you realize that there will soon be possibilities for joy and normalcy in the future.
Accept Your Feelings About Transitioning into the “New Normal” of a COVID-19 World While in Recovery
Don’t judge yourself for how you feel. Emotions are a range that can happen simultaneously. Therefore; you should not be harsh on yourself if you feel certain ways about things that worry you. You might be excited to reenter the world while simultaneously feeling the collective grief as a result of COVID-19. However, these seemingly incongruent emotions are normal, so it is important to let yourself feel everything.
You can use meditation or mindfulness to get in touch with the root of your feelings. Or you might talk with friends, family, peers and professionals in your support network. The key is to be easy on yourself and be accepting and compassionate of the things you feel.
At New Hope Ranch, just outside of Austin, Texas, we provide the treatment and therapies to not only help you realize that your anxiety is a normal response but to help you cope with anxiety if it starts to overtake your life. If you are currently struggling to manage your recovery or in need of help for an addiction, then the time to reach out to a professional is today. Find out more and call us at (737) 600-8565.