Life After Lockdown
Updated: Aug 28, 2020
Nearly five months into the era of the coronavirus, we’ve grown somewhat used to living in a pandemic.
In navigating life after lockdown, we’ve had to concede to some hard facts: for starters, the health crisis is ongoing. As such, masks are required garb for entry into virtually any place of business, and even then, we’re faced with stores’ staggering customers and the long lines that make up aspects of our “new normal.”
Having been repeatedly exposed to these and other restrictions, we’re probably not feeling as nervous about a visit to the grocery store as we did, say, in March.
So with communities slowly reopening, we’re now presented with more options - to go out for a meal or not? To venture into a hair salon or barber shop or resign oneself to “shelter-in-place hair” until things feel safer? People are suddenly faced with determining their own levels of risk tolerance. In fact, you’re probably noticing that your comfort level with certain activities is different than that of some of your friends or family members. You may be keeping up with social distancing, while others around you seem to fall back more easily into gatherings at the park, backyard barbecues or meeting at restaurant tables outdoors.
You may find yourself wrestling with whether or not to relish a restaurant meal with others. The relief of not having to cook, and enjoying a change of scenery while also supporting a local business might feel like a win-win and yet…do the risks outweigh the rewards for you?
Options: they’re a good problem to have, and it’s important to stay mindful that not everyone has the same choices in life.
Still, when the drive to return to normalcy competes with concerns about safety and comfort, we can expect a certain amount of stress to ensue. Just seeing others enjoying social time together can stir up strong missing feelings to resume personal contact with our friends or return to former routines. For some, social pressures or observing that lawmakers and health experts aren’t necessarily on the same page can compound the stress of decision-making.
When confronted with deciding between two courses of action, creating a pros and cons list can help. First, jot down a few positive outcomes for acting on a decision (i.e. going out to eat) and then do the same as you consider the negative consequences. Do you notice one column eclipsing the other? If you’re still not sure, you can list pros and cons for taking the opposite action (i.e. not going out), to help you make the best decision for yourself.
When pros and cons are keeping pace with each other, and the decision in question feels emotionally charged, walking “the middle path” can help. The middle path takes both the facts of a situation (i.e. businesses are open during a pandemic) and your feelings about it (i.e. concern for safety) into account so that you can proceed most effectively.
No matter what your pros or cons, being kind to yourself is key to the process of deciding how to act. We live in difficult times and it may feel tempting to please others whose limits differ from ours. Remember to talk to yourself as you would a good friend. Recognize that the stress you’re feeling right now is common humanity and something everyone else is very likely feeling.
Who knows? You could end up with friends at a table outside your favorite hangout. You might decide to connect over a meal on Zoom. Or you may just decide that getting take-out from your favorite place and going for a social-distance picnic in the park is the win-win of the night!
What’s on your list?
Written by: Olivia Giegerich, LCSW