Over the past two years, we have been forced to learn how to manage and tolerate uncertainty. This can be difficult for many people. The pandemic prompted a series of emotions on a rollercoaster that just wouldn’t end. Fear and uncertainty were common. Is this really happening? Confusion was also widespread. Who should I believe? As the weeks turned into months, and then years, many people continued to feel stress and anxiety. For many, it also felt surreal. This is especially true now, as we are finally in a lull of COVID activity and mask mandates have come to an end. Is it over? Truthfully, we are not sure. What we do know, is that your flurry of emotions over the last two years were real. You are not alone, and it is perfectly normal to continue feeling conflicting emotions as we come out of COVID (hopefully).
You wore a mask for the better part of two years. It is completely normal to experience anxiety about shedding a layer of safety that we have relied on to protect us from the pandemic. Just remember, this is also a sign that we are finally returning to some level of normalcy. New normalcy. Below are some tips to help you manage anxiety during this time.
Do what feels right for you. Maybe your mask makes you feel comfortable in some settings. That is completely normal and fine.
Masks are still optional. If you are not ready to unmask, don’t. It is your choice and you can take things slow.
Use grounding techniques. Observe, listen, describe, smell your surroundings. Using your senses can be a great way to de-stress and get grounded.
Just Breathe. You’ve been through a lot. Some people made major sacrifices during the pandemic. The time it takes you to get comfortable with less mandates and fewer mitigations may vary from others, and that’s okay. Just breathe and take things at your pace.
Reach out to someone. You are not alone. Even if it feels like everyone around you is on a different level than you are, there are others who feel exactly how you do, too. Talk about your feelings. If it makes you both happy and scared to unmask, own that. You are not alone in how you feel.
Enjoy the new normal. While it is okay to be afraid and uncertain, it is also important to realize that we have made it to a safer place regarding the pandemic. Allow yourself to relax, reflect and when you are ready, regain your sense of normal.