Too Comfortable with Quarantine?
So it took you what feels like forever to get used to quarantine and social distancing, now things are opening back up and you’re not sure if you’re ready to adjust to normal life again.
Don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone, and some people even prefer this way of life.
To be honest, sometimes I forget there was a life before COVID-19.
Whether you’re worried about feeling pressured to jump back into the same routine and social life you had before, or you’re still concerned that the pandemic is still actually happening and things are opening for economic reasons, not because it is finally safe, these are all valid reasons to be a little freaked out.
Feeling scared of what’s next is totally normal. No one came into 2020 expecting a pandemic to completely come in and uproot our entire lives, and that uncertainty is going to follow us until this thing is officially over.
States and cities across the United States are all in various phases of reopening, but one thing hasn’t changed, people are still being infected and the curve hasn’t flattened.
Our Best Advice
I reached out to the clinicians at Telebehavioral Health.US to ask what their best advice would be for someone who may have gotten “too comfortable” being in isolation, or for someone who is just nervous for their health during this pandemic and the uncertainty of public places and events opening back up.
Sarah Dubicki, LMSW from Telebehavioral Health.US told me her best advice would be to think of the people you could potentially infect if you’re going out all the time, especially if you’re not wearing a mask, and to not jump back into the social scene if you don’t feel comfortable.
Just because your favorite local bar is opening back up doesn’t mean you have to go if you’re still worried.
Teresa Hurtgen, LMSW also from Telebehavioral Health.US said her best advice for someone who has gotten comfortable being socially isolated and is nervous to begin normal-life again is to reflect on how they adjusted to quarantine in the first place. “The idea of adjusting to quarantine was scary and terrifying too. All the while, they were adjusting to a stressful situation, so much so that now going back seems scary. They’re clearly very capable at adapting to changes-a lot of times things feel scarier and bigger, until we get to them and discover that we can do it. One step at a time.”
Another therapist with us, Jade Autumn, LMSW shared her thoughts and advice on this topic. “Most people have a tendency to think of things as all or nothing (myself included), for example, either total social isolation or total social immersion. In actuality there is a LOT of space for different levels/variations of social interactions between these two extremes.
Managing our expectations and setting personal boundaries about what social interactions we are comfortable with can help ease anxious thoughts and feelings. I would also encourage those struggling with the idea of reengaging in social situations to start small and set reasonable expectations of themselves. It's okay and normal to feel nervous and hesitant.
Start small by meeting one, trusted friend in the park for a picnic or a walk while maintaining safe distances & wearing masks and see how you feel. Having something else to do while meeting with others (such as navigating a hiking trail, walking the dog, coloring/crafting, shooting hoops, etc) can also be helpful distractions from social anxieties, and help ease us into becoming more comfortable being around people again.”
Back to Reality
So whether you’re scared of what’s to come, or itching to get back to normal, remember that we are still living through a pandemic, and it is best to just be careful and listen to the guidelines provided to us by the professionals.
Just take it easy on yourself in the next few weeks/months and remind yourself that it is okay to reenter normal life at your own pace. The states may be on a reopening timeline, but that doesn't mean you have to. Do whatever makes you comfortable.