We Go From Here?: Life After the Pandemic
Covid-19 has changed
the way we lived our lives. Almost everything familiar—spending time with
family and friends, taking part in social events, going to work, mundane activities
like buying groceries—became situations that had the potential to result in
ourselves or others becoming sick or even dying. We may not always have enjoyed
the familiar—a trip to the market to get paper towels, for example, or buying
gas—but we never had to weigh the risks we might be taking or find alternative
ways to get things done. Seemingly overnight, the ordinary became
also changed us. We’re no longer who we were pre-pandemic. Some of that change
has been painful and unwanted; some of it may have offered greater insight into
ourselves and what matters most to us. And what matters most may have also
changed. This past year has forced me to recognize that I’m fine with big changes
in my life, like moving to a different part of the country where I don’t know
many, or any, people … when I initiate those changes. But when change that I
have absolutely no control over happens? Turns out I’m not as adaptable as I liked
to think I was.
Covid-19 won’t disappear overnight, neither will the emotions—grief, fear,
anger—we’ve been living with for the past year. Now that an “after” appears to
be in sight, a new uncertainty has been added to the mix: What will a
post-pandemic world look like? How do we reengage with others after so long
apart and whom do we want to reengage with? And perhaps the biggest question of
all, how do we want to live our lives?
Living with the
unknown is never easy and rarely is it comfortable, but all those feelings—the grief,
fear, anger, uncertainty—are normal. We’re still in collective mourning for
lives lost and for those existing in what feels like a perpetual state of
limbo. As we emerge from the past year of unchosen isolation, it’s essential to
remember that we aren’t alone in feeling nervous, ambivalent, and afraid. Here
are a few suggestions to help ease discomfort during this time of transition.
don’t rush, back into pre-pandemic activities—pace yourself.
and respect, that people may have different comfort levels from your own when
it comes to socializing. And recognize and respect your own comfort level.
and maintaining balance is challenging in the best of times. This past year
made that challenge even more daunting. Some often-mentioned practices to help
with balance include yoga and meditation. Two more practices to try are singing
or dancing by yourself (or singing while dancing) or visualizing a safe,
peaceful place, real or imagined, that you can visit whenever you’re feeling
anxious or adrift. And sometimesit’s the small things that can provide unexpected enjoyment and comfort.
The American Psychological
Association has compiled adatabase of Covid-19-related resources on mental and emotional well-being
as have theNational Institute of Mental Health and theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention.