Re-entering the world: Mediating anxiety and finding yourself in a "post" Covid World

~By Hannah Lipschutz, Graduate Clinical Intern

For over two years, we have lived in a world full of unknowns and uncertainty. Like many of you, COVID-life became my new normal - the fear, hypervigilance, and putting much of life on hold. As quickly as it arrived and took over, it seemed to dissipate - leaving me lost and uncertain. The simplest tasks prompted anxiety, the most basic activities felt overwhelming, and I didn't know who I was anymore. I was left asking, "how do I learn who I am now and embrace this new beginning?" This is what I came up with:
  1. It's ok to be scared: Let's make one thing clear, a global pandemic is scary! It was scary not to know what was happening; it was scary to watch the world shut down, and it was scary not to know if you and your loved ones were going to be ok. That fear is real; it was trying to keep you safe. So now each time you notice the fear that comes up... honor it, thank it for keeping you safe, and then visualize letting it melt away like the snow from a long winter giving way to a new beginning.
  2. Acknowledge the unique ways COVID impacted you: COVID impacted everyone differently. Maybe you got really sick, lost people you were close to, struggled with your mental health, or maybe you lost your job. These challenges may have shifted your understanding of the world. It's okay to mourn what you have lost. Allow yourself to grieve by yourself or with friends and family. Create rituals to help you process what you have been through. You can create a list of how COVID impacted you and then rip it apart and throw it away. You can plant a tree or flowers to honor what you lost and represent new beginnings. You can talk to your therapist and process your grief in a safe and supportive place.
  3. Like reconnecting with an old friend, embrace getting to know yourself now: Who is the same as before the pandemic started? I know I'm not. Really take the time to reconnect with yourself. Be intentional about how you want to meet the new you. Take yourself out on dates, go for walks with yourself, journal...try new things and see if the new you likes them.
  4. Ground yourself: Getting caught in an anxiety tornado is easy as we re-enter the world. Finding ways to ground yourself daily is essential for getting through the storm. Meditations, breathing practices, journaling, and mindful art practices are accessible and good ways to incorporate grounding into your day-to-day life.
  5. Embrace what you love and find your joy: Social, emotional, and physical deprivation was a big part of quarantine. Not being able to do the things you enjoyed, not being with the people you loved, feeling disconnected from the world. Many people still find themselves feeling socially and emotionally starved. Taking time to connect or reconnect with the things, activities, and people we love and that bring us joy is essential for this new beginning. Give yourself that intentional care and healing as you move forward.
Remember, whatever you are experiencing post-pandemic, you are not alone. So allow yourself to feel whatever comes up for you: overwhelm, fear, excitement, or confusion. Reach out to people and organizations that can help you process, heal, and find yourself again. Post note: Some people are still at high risk for covid and complications from covid. We respect and support those people's experiences and choices to protect themselves and others. This post is not meant to dismiss their experience or their feelings. The author acknowledges that some elements of this post may not be accessible to those people at this time.