Mental Health as We Get Back to 'Normal'

As we have been focused on staying safe and taking care of our physical health through social distancing, mask wearing, and quarantining, our mental health may have become a secondary priority. Both as individuals as well as a collective, we’ve exhausted our efforts to deal with the many adjustments in our personal and professional lives throughout the year, while we wished for nothing more than a return to normalcy. Now that there seems to be a promising light at the end of the tunnel, how many of us are actually ready to be present and active participants of the outside world again? 

Speaking from my own experience: I certainly did gain hope for a brighter future when the vaccinations started rolling out effectively and the restrictions loosened with each week. I felt relieved, optimistic, and excited. However, at the same time, I couldn’t help but notice some anxiety creeping up in me. 

Especially, when I walk down my street and see crowds of people gathered at re-opened bars and cafes, the past year feels like it had just been a dream. It seems as though half of us are so eager to continue where we left off two summers ago that we willingly spend hours in line to get a seat at a way-too-small table to sip on a way-too-overpriced drink. Whereas the other half shivers at the thought of social gatherings and tip-toes around with a newly developed hypochondria.

Whether it’s over-indulgence or crippling anxiety, neither should be considered a healthy reaction to the present occurrences. But they are understandable, of course. The changes we are experiencing are rather sudden and unusual, so it only makes sense that our behavior reflects just that. Knowing this, it may then be a good idea to consider how we can help ourselves, help each other. 

It is important to understand and remember that we all deal with difficult situations (trauma, if applicable) differently. So, let’s give each other the space to decide how quickly or how slowly we re-enter our ‘normal’ lives.