Going Back to “Normal”

I abhor the word “normal.” Nothing in this godforsaken world is “normal.” Of course, it is definitely more along the lines of a spectrum of what is socially acceptable. When you meet someone new, you shake their hand, give them a fist bump, or at least introduce yourself by name. You do not go up in their face and begin screeching like a dying ostrich before running away; I hope not anyways.

With that being said, our “normal” was tossed upside down and thrown around during the pandemic. Over the course of a year and a half, we got into a new routine as a society. I carried my professional license with me to prove I was an essential worker. I spaced myself six feet away from people. I anticipated longer waits at stores and restaurants. I kept a stash of masks in my car. It became a way of life and engrained in our culture unfortunately.

Over the last two months, COVID-19 restrictions lifted rather quickly. People pushed for life to go back to the way it was. However, what a lot of people did not see coming was the adjustment period. Not gonna lie. I was confused as fuck when and where to wear my mask when restrictions were lifted. I grew so accustomed to wearing it that I kept it on out of caution for at least a week after even though I had been fully vaccinated for several months at that point.

Traffic patterns picked up again. Stores and restaurants pushed their 100% capacity once more. Those thin plastic barriers at the cash register slowly disappeared. It was weird.

In the following weeks, my anxiety peaked, and I could not put a finger on it right away. My typical high alert symptoms were at play. I felt scatterbrained and could not focus for the life of me. I could not sit still without feeling like I left something unfinished even if my entire to-do list was crossed off. I spoke to my therapist about it, and she made a good point. She said that every time I experienced significant change that my anxiety spiked. Duh. There was change occurring all around me, and a bunch of societal level changes that I had no control over. It was a huge adjustment.

I needed to be a bit nicer to myself. There was a lot going on that I had to roll with all at once. It was a lot for anyone, even a therapist, to manage. I pulled out some old tricks/advice for myself.

Focus on what you can control. During a time when everything out of your control is constantly evolving, focusing on your to-do list reduces some anxiety and fear of the unknown. It provides some sense of stability.

Talk about it. None of us are alone in this transition. Venting to your loved ones may help provide some normalization to this adjustment period. Also, your loved ones may be able to provide some powerful suggestions on how they are handling it themselves.

Remember that it is temporary. Just like how we all adjusted to the pandemic, we will adjust back to the “old normal.” It usually takes a few weeks at most, and things feel more at ease.

-The Caring Counselor

P.S. I still hope we can keep the six feet social distancing. I like having my personal space.

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