June 2021 looks vastly different from June 2020, in the United States at least. We went from the uncertainty of what COVID-19 would bring, the difficulty of facing social distancing, and scrambling to find or make masks to having hope that we are finally getting a handle on this whole “COVID thing.”
Many states are lifting restrictions on masks and social distancing, and more and more people are getting vaccinated every day. So, why are some people struggling with more intense fear and uncertainty? There is hope and our nation is recovering, yet here we struggle.
Giving Up What Made Us Feel Safe
We were so busy trying to survive that, now when we finally get a chance to breathe, all that accumulated fear, uncertainty, isolation, and grief might try to overwhelm us. We’ve had to ignore intense feelings to make it through the day – to take care of our kids, house, work, and family.
It also might be scary to consider giving up the things that protected us over the past year, but why would anyone want to continue wearing an uncomfortable mask? It seems ridiculous, and yet, it’s scary to consider taking it off in public.
Perhaps it has to do with the illusion of control that wearing a mask gives us. That mask, or those steps we took to protect our loved ones, was our shield over the past year. If we wore that mask and isolated ourselves, we were supposed to be safe. Now, though, we’re supposed to lay our shield to the side, disregard it, and move on without worry.
Perhaps it has to do with the expectation that we’re supposed to trust the strangers around us whom the media has portrayed as selfish opponents. Perhaps it has to do with having to, once again, reevaluate our levels of comfort and safety. It’s tiring to think about when we’re an already exhausted nation.
Struggling to Go Back to “Normal”
I’m struggling with the idea of returning to “normal.” This time last year, I was in the hospital giving birth to my daughter. Since then, I’ve been diligent about trying to protect her as best I could. I got groceries delivered, wore masks, bought too much hand sanitizer, didn’t see most of my family or friends, etc.
Maybe I went overboard, maybe not, but I’m happy with my choices, though I wish I didn’t have to make them. I’m still evaluating what my next steps are, though I expect to take my own advice.
My Advice to You
The building or rekindling of relationships can mitigate stress, sadness, and/or anxiety. Try to reconnect with friends, family, and coworkers with whom you haven’t spoken as much as you’d like. Phone and video calls can be a great first step to reconnecting and don’t require laying down any shields yet.
Get those endorphins flowing by getting out of the house. Consider going to the mall, an outdoor festival, the gym, or a park. Resume hobbies and things you used to enjoy. I love dancing and baking but have not done either in over a year. Recognize when your thinking is unhelpful and challenge those thoughts. For example, if you’re vaccinated, your risk is much lower than it was in June 2020.
Talk to Us in Tampa
Finally, if this change is too much to handle on your own, reach out to someone who can help with these strong feelings. Our team of licensed psychologists and therapists in Tampa is trained to help with depression, anxiety, or adjusting to change. Small steps can lead to big returns, so give it a try by setting up your appointment with us today.