By Kerianne Lawson, Chief Programs Officer, Beach Cities Health District
After living with COVID-19 for more than a year, Los Angeles County is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. More than 8 million vaccine doses have been administered in the County and we continue to move forward through the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. With more sectors and businesses reopening, people are heading back into the office and students are going back to school in-person.
While getting back to life is wonderful news, this transition to the new normal can feel overwhelming and bring with it a wide range of emotions – excitement, anxiety, hope, stress, even fear. After adapting to a world full of athleisure attire, physical distancing and connecting only virtually with others, you might be caught off guard when you see a co-worker or classmate for the first time in more than a year (in real life that is and not through a screen).
Here are a few tips to help with the transition as we navigate this new normal together:
- Know that things will look different.Whether you are back to the office or school, eating at a restaurant or watching a movie, the process and experience will not be the same as it was pre-pandemic. There will be modifications such as hybrid schedules, limited occupancy, face masks, partitions and one-way walkways to help keep us safe. Stay informed by checking online or calling in advance to ask about safety measures before going to a public place. Knowing what to expect will help you feel prepared to follow the health guidance when visiting.
- Acknowledge that progress has been made. Although things look different, just think about how far we’ve come. Just in the past few months, Los Angeles County has swiftly moved from the purple to red to orange and now yellow tier. New sectors like live events and amusement parks are now allowed to reopen. Fully vaccinated individuals have fewer restrictions and can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing, and participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues.
- Know that you are not alone. Many are probably feeling the same way you do and have the same thoughts you have. Should I just say “hi,” give an air high five, fist bump or a hug?Would they feel offended if I say I’m not ready to do indoor dining or ride on an airplane yet?Your feelings, emotions and thoughts are valid. Keep in mind that others may share your same anxieties. Be kind and know we are all doing the best we can to keep each other safe.
- Practice self-care.While it’s important to be kind to others, it’s also important to be kind to yourself. The experience of reopening and getting back to what life was like pre-pandemic can feel overwhelming. Just the interactions with more than your household members can feel exhausting after not interacting with others for so long. Be gentle with yourself and carve out time in your routine to relax and de-stress. Enjoy your hobbies, practice mindfulness or exercise.
For more information on Mental Health Awareness Month, visit www.bchd.org/mentalhealthawareness.