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Tips for a Gradual Re-entry into a Post-COVID Wor

Gathering again, including returning to work, is going to be complicated and possibly uncomfortable. This short message intends to remind you of some resources and tools that are available.  As the physical risks are better managed with vaccines, however, what will likely still remain is the indelible impact of the pandemic weighing on the collective psyche.

May is mental health month so please take the time to consider checking in on yourself, checking in on your loved ones and checking in with your spirituality or whatever makes your soul feel good.  Let’s amplify your courage by smashing the stigma of asking for help.

Over the last year, we trained our bodies to be hyper aware of external stimuli that we previously ignored. Mask checking before leaving the house was the new normal as well as keeping tabs on who is in our vicinity when out in public and sanitizing our hands and groceries. 

Now as we emerge into a post-Covid existence, the messages we have given our bodies about the danger that exists in the world do not simply disappear.  Our bodies do not know that eating in a restaurant is safe or dangerous—it learns whether or not it is safe or dangerous through our actions.  Our behaviors over the past year have indicated to our internal alarms that a reaction is warranted in certain situations.  The knowledge that the alarm is no longer necessary is not enough for our bodies to stop reacting.  Just as your body can learn to become afraid, we can also help it to learn that it does not need to fear certain circumstances. 

Here are some tips for a gradual re-entry into a post-COVID world:
  • List activities that you would like to start doing again. 
  • Break down more anxiety-provoking activities into smaller steps. 
  • When you are planning on doing something you have not done in a while, notice your thinking.  Are you planning for the worst-case scenario?  Are you telling yourself it will be scary and hard?  Our thinking has a huge impact on our experience.  Focus on the present and try not to engage with worry thoughts. Thoughts are not facts!
  • Acknowledge the uncertainty that still exists in the world. 
  • Make sure to reward brave behaviors! 
  • Seek support from friends and family.