Arise Counseling, LLC
Post Pandemic Tips
By: Ardelia Hayward, LCPC
It’s now been over a year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and there is now light at the end of the tunnel, time to move forward, but how? How do we move past the isolation and forced independence we’ve been forced to endure?
As we move forward, we should consider that not only has the world changed, but so have we. We have spent a year of sidestepping fellow walkers as we exercised on trails and paths, mutually chosen not to shake hands, worn masks to keep each other and ourselves safe, and other necessary safety measures. In other words, we used an abundance of caution in an effort to stay healthy and even stay alive.
So after we receive the the second COVID-19 vaccine, continue to see decreases in the rates of infection, and lifting of sanctions in our communities, how do we navigate our re-entry into the world with others respectfully.
Considering others: Acknowledging that despite the scientific advances and improvements in our personal health situation, there may be a reluctance to pursue our activities with our loved ones the way we once did in the past. This idea came because of excitedly talking to my 93-year-old mother in Philadelphia over FaceTime and one-sidedly making plans to visit her. Instead of being met with the same excitement, I was met with a tepid response. I thought it would be great after we got our second Covid vaccine here in Maryland we would drive to see her and spend the day. Unfortunately, that was not a a plan my mother had envisioned, at least not yet due to reservations about safety, which leads me to the second thought.
Patience: Allowing the other person time to decide the hows and when they are willing to interact will be vital to re-establish face-to face interactions. Yes, I would be thrilled to meet my hysterically funny girlfriend over brunch and pick up where we left off pre-pandemic, but I’m just not ready, not yet. Allowing others an opportunity to absorb the scientific information that is presented almost daily, digest it and make the decisions for themselves.
Understanding Risk Tolerance: Each individual has an amount of risk they are willing to take in various situations and honoring that can make for a better relationship. For example, my skydiving daughter (unbeknownst to me until after the fact) knows that mommy prefers to keep both feet on terra firma, and the firmer the better so we spend time in activities we both can enjoy.
Go slow: Not only has the development of the vaccine been exciting but so has anticipating the change of seasons here in the Northeast been something to look forward to. Gone are freezing temperatures, shortened days with sunlight and hello to warmer temperatures, longer days of sunlight, accompany the feelings of endless possibilities and opportunities, but go slow, savor and enjoy. Mindfully meditate on the tree or bush as the buds slowly open, as they are embraced by the sun, bloom and delight us.
Compromising: If the purpose of the gathering is to enjoy time with each other, keep that as the purpose of the gathering. If one person is cautious about a concert venue perhaps going to an outdoor music venue would meet needs of both parties.
Listening Skills: Although our devices and apps like FaceTime and Zoom have been getting a good work out during this time, there are things better said face to face. Remembering good active listening skills such as not interrupting, staying focused, smiling, asking questions for clarification, and remembering the strength of body language will go a long way in re-connecting with others.
Don’t let the isolation become a habit: For introverts, being in their bubble has not been the worse experience, however for ongoing development as a human, isolation can be harmful psychologically due to the lack of stimulation. Give yourself a gentle nudge and slowly get out there again.
The re-integration process may be gradual, different, and even difficult. Be prepared for setbacks, but keep trying, because it’s worth it.