Masks may be out and vaccination cards may be in, but sometimes I still feel strange entering stores without a mask on. Admittedly, I, like many others, still need to stifle the sense of fear sparked when myself or a loved one wakes up with cold symptoms. Vaccine rates, re-openings and summer 2021 in full swing are a cause for celebration, but it still may be difficult for many of us to return to a sense of normalcy in this post-pandemic society. So, with the summer solstice already in our rearview mirror, let’s discuss healthy, mindful ways to move forward out of the pandemic and into the long-awaited summer season
A Post-COVID World
After the extremely long year and a half of lockdown, the idea of a post-pandemic world sounds too good to be true (remember when quarantine in March was supposed to last two weeks?) As we safely begin to return to our daily routines, it is important to keep in mind all that we learned during this pandemic, as well as acknowledging the continued existence of the COVID-19 virus. Check out this article from Healthline that outlines our future in a post-pandemic world. The article predicts that we will enter an “endemic” phase, which means that according to experts, “the virus is always present in the population in some form, albeit under controllable levels.”
The article also urges that people need to remain educated and practice normal safety measures because there are still many unknowns about this virus. It also predicts that in the future, COVID-19 could be similar to the influenza virus in the way that it re-emerges every year in a slightly different form. This should not be cause for alarm, especially if you are vaccinated; it simply means that we need to collectively practice healthy measures like washing our hands, covering our mouths and noses when sneezing or coughing, and staying away from others when not feeling good.
Returning to “Normal”
Are you hesitant about stepping out in public and facing crowd again? This feeling is affecting many of us, whether or not we consider ourselves introverts. In an article from CNN, experts calls this fear “cave syndrome,” and believe that shifting towards a positive mindset can help you transition with ease.
“A great way to develop this positivity is to imagine all the great activities you participated in prior to the pandemic, such as eating indoors with friends or attending concerts,” the article reads. “The last step is to visualize your goals and what you can accomplish when you leave your ‘cave.’” Read the full article for more advice on accepting the reluctance to go out and strategies for facing your fears.
For more encouragement to venture out into the social world, this article by CNN’s Matt Villano described the importance of face-to-face interactions. The article cites a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience that found that meeting face-to-face and “real-life familiarization stimulates the brain differently and yields stronger and faster connections.” Villano added that “constructive ways to ease back into the swing of face-to-face get-togethers might be outdoor gatherings such as [an outdoor] book club, outdoor yoga or hiking in a park.”
Mindfulness to the Rescue
I have found some more helpful articles and items that offer many different ways to calm your mind and ease back into the new normal. Are you finally returning to work in the office and still feeling a little uneasy after all those months at home? Try mindful walking. Healthline offers six ways to make your commute more mindful, and Yahoo outlines the many health benefits of walking meditation and how to make that practice a daily routine.
Especially in this post-pandemic world, practicing mindfulness is something that I constantly urge others to at least try out to help cultivate a healthy, positive mindset. This will not only help you re-adjust to “normal,” but it will equip your mind to prepare for future stressors. If you’re looking for more, check out these five reasons to start a mindfulness practice and the benefits by CNN’s Jen Rose Smith.
One of the many components of this new normal is the dependency on technology. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that there are many jobs that can actually be performed from home thanks to the power of the internet (and Zoom.) If you are not returning to work in person, don’t worry, I didn’t forget about you. Check out this advice from Real Simple on “how to thrive when working from home permanently.”
GOOD READS – SLEEP EDITION
It’s a well-known fact that a good night’s sleep is essential to a healthy life. However, the excitement of life opening up and summer plans paired with post-pandemic anxiety can take a toll on our sleep patterns. This week’s good read’s section features recent articles on sleep, with recent studies and advice on both what to do and what not to do to get some rest.
Summer Sleep. Ironically, falling and staying asleep can be difficult after an exhausting summer day. Healthline explains what factors of the season affect our sleeping patterns as well as eight ways to get a better night’s sleep.
Wake Up Happy. A recent study by the University of Colorado at Boulder found that waking up just one hour earlier a day can decrease one’s risk of depression by 23 percent.
What Not To Do. Listening to music before bed may not be helpful after all. A recent study from Baylor University found that listening to music near bedtime can be disruptive to sleep. And if you don’t catch enough Z’s, don’t rely on your morning coffee. Experts have found that while caffeine can help you stay awake, but it won’t improve your performance on daily tasks. Read more about the study here.