Life After COVID-19
Many of us have heard the news- mandatory lockdowns for coronavirus, shelter-in-place, and curfews have been lifted. We, as a nation, are starting to rebuild, and most of us are getting back to work, while others—essential workers— have been working on the frontlines. If you are someone that is just now getting back to the workforce and are having to leave the comfort of your own home and get back into the world, you may be feeling a flood of emotions taking over you. You are not the only one. I am right there with you. These are trying times and it is not going to be easy. However, it is doable and together we will get through this. We will find that at this precise moment many of us are finding the pressures of meeting certain expectations may be taking over us. The re-opening of the country, our individual states, and cities means we ourselves have to find a way to re-balance and re-adjust our own expectations, duties, and self-care.
As we all find the courage and balanced comfort level to get back out, we may see that this endeavor has its ups and downs. In particular, when it comes to getting back out into the workforce and settings which were habitual to us prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. We are living during unprecedented times, where we as a nation have experienced one of the world’s scariest and deadliest epidemics. Getting back to our new “normal” seems to be something that may have some of us, if not all, feeling an increased amount of anxiety and hypersensitivity to the idea of getting out and being around others. This is normal, again—you are not alone. We have all had our own experiences with COVID-19, whether it’s been the tragic and sudden loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, an adjustment of life in of itself, and now a societal and global adjustment as states and cities start to re-open.
During these times, we may be seeing that getting comfortable with being uncomfortable may be our new method of survival. We as humans are primed to biologically adjust to new environmental shifts. We were once considered a prime species that were hunters and gatherers, and throughout the years have morphed into civilized professionals, experts, and frontline workers looking for jobs, adjusting to our new roles in our families and society- all while mourning the many losses we’ve experienced during this pandemic. Finding our balance through this all is going to be essential for staying healthy.
What does re-balancing look like right now? Well, it can look different for us all. However, the key overarching similarity is going to be prioritizing and really taking heed over our personal well-being and needs. According to Maslow, we have five categories of needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. In this theory, higher needs in the hierarchy begin to emerge when people feel they have sufficiently satisfied the previous need.
How can we manage to re-balance while considering our needs during this moment? Well, first and foremost we want to make sure that we have the basic essentials such as shelter, food, water, sleep quality, and clothing (our physiological needs) and from there move up in the hierarchy of needs. You can see that the second need is safety. This is precisely what each and every one of us is striving to get a grip on right now. Self-reflection and self-check-ins to make sure that we ourselves are safe throughout the set-out precautions is key. Remember that safety precaution that is always uttered when we get on a plane? “In case of an emergency please put on your oxygen mask before helping someone next to you to put on theirs.” This is the same thing. You have to take care of yourself prior to re-engaging in other needed activities. And how can we do this right now? Wearing a face-mask, washing our hands periodically, maintaining a safe distance from others, and continuing to safely social distance.
We will re-balance as we keep checking back and reflecting on our personal values, morals, and beliefs. Asking yourself, “Should I…or Could I go back out there? And how?” This is a process, and will not happen overnight. Staying positive, future-oriented, and motivated during this practice is something you can choose to do alone or in collaboration with others (i.e. family, friends, religious leaders, or a therapist). Most therapists at this moment are continuing to see clients, whether through telehealth or in person, taking into account guidelines and safety precautions. This is an excellent option as you are able to work through triggers and can learn how to understand and stay thoughtful during times where anxiety may be at an all-time high.
Our new normal is going to look different and we are all going to have to face that truth together. Re-adjusting to life after COVID-19 isn’t going to be quick, but rather we will see many changes worldwide. My suggestion is that we as families come up with our own safety plans. Planning ahead can help one feel more secure and safe. As parents, we can continue to teach our children hygiene and the importance of it, the importance of personal space and what that may look like moving forward, and the relevance in staying healthy (physically, mentally, and spiritually). It is important that these lessons start from the home and are embedded into our being, where it becomes only a natural instinct to get to a location and wash our hands or implement boundaries where we may not hug and kiss everyone we see. And that is okay.
We are evolving, and we will make it through this, we will be whole again.